Unbirthday Cake

Oct 24, 2015

Cake is joy! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I love to make cakes and I enjoy eating them as well. And it gives me great pleasure to bake a cake when it’s nobody Birthday; and eat it too.

Such was yesterday evening’s cake, a cake fit for a Birthday, yet no Birthday was in sight. So I baked it anyway. And we’re talking about the real deal layered chocolate cake with ganache spread in between the tiers after which the whole things gets covered in a nice Nutella buttercream, followed by the optional sprinkles. This cake is not light, it’s got all the heavy stuff that we’re being told isn’t healthy for us, thus making it highly delectable. I think every once in a while, we need something like this in our lives and since I despise the expression <guilty pleasure> that we’ve all been allured into embracing lately, I’ll go ahead and say a slice of this was pure guiltless pleasure.

If you decide to make this heavenly chocolate cake, you can make it a day ahead and store it in the fridge. If you’re making it in the morning and planning to serve it after dinner, you should start by making the cakes, then the ganache, assembling those first and then make the Nutella buttercream, store it in the fridge and use it to cover the cake one hour before serving.

For the cakes:

113 g/1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

250g/2 cups flour

200g/7 oz chocolate, min 70% cocoa solids, finely chopped

250ml/1 cup coffee/espresso

80g/⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 free-range eggs, at room temperature

250 ml/1 cup milk, room temperature

Juice from half a lemon

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

tsp fine sea salt

tsp baking powder

tsp baking soda

500g/2½ cups coconut sugar or lightly packed brown sugar

60 ml/¼ cup sunflower oil

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Butter and line two cake pans (if you only have one, you will bake in two batches). Place the milk in a large glass and pour the lemon juice over it, allow to sit for 5 minutes. In a bowl set over a medium saucepan of simmering, melt the chocolate, coffee and cocoa. Once melted, remove from the hob and allow to cool. Once cooled, whisk in the eggs, milk & lemon mixture and vanilla. This is your chocolate mixture.

Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer, start mixing salt, baking powder, baking soda and flour in a large bowl. Add brown sugar, oil, butter, and 120ml/½ cup of the chocolate mixture; beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth, for 3 minutes. Add remaining chocolate mixture in 2 batches, making sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as to incorporate everything. Once smooth, divide batter between prepared pans, smooth the top with a spatula and place in the oven for 35-40 minutes. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. They should feel firm, but springy to the touch. Allow to cool in the pan 10-15 minutes before taking out on a wire rack and allowing to cool completely.

For the syrup:

For the syrup:

250ml/2¼ cups water

3 Tblsp sugar

Zest of one orange

1Tblsp dark rum

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Place the water and a sugar in a small saucepan set over low heat. When the sugar has dissolved and the mixture starts to bubble, remove from the heat, add the rest of the ingredients and leave to cool until using.

 For the Ganache:

220g/8 oz. chocolate, min 70% cocoa solids, finely chopped

200ml/1 cup heavy cream

¼ tsp fine sea salt

56g/½ stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature

Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl, along with the salt. In a saucepan set over medium heat bring the heavy cream to a boil, then remove from the hob and pour over the chocolate. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then mix with a spatula until the chocolate is melted and your ganache is smooth and glossy. Allow to cool completely for another 20-25 minutes, then with a hand-held mixer, incorporate the butter, one piece at a time, until the ganache is light and fluffy.

For the Nutella Buttercream:

3 free-range egg yolks, at room temperature

1 free-range egg, at room temperature

½ tsp fine sea salt

150g/¾ cup regular sugar (feel free to use any sugar you like)

280g/2½ sticks cubed unsalted butter, at room temperature

280g/1 cup Nutella

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Sprinkles, optional

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with the aid of a hand-held mixer, beat the egg yolks, egg, and salt until they resemble ribbons, for about 5 minutes. In a saucepan set over medium heat, bring sugar and 45ml/3Tblsp water to a boil, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to bubble for about 4 minutes, then remove from the hob and with the mixer running, pour the sugar syrup in a steady stream on the side of the mixing bowl and mix on low speed. Once you’ve poured all the syrup, mix everything on high speed for about 8 minutes. Turn the mixer on medium speed and start adding the butter, a piece at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Add the Nutella and the vanilla and mix until well incorporated and smooth.

To assemble:

Using a serrated knife, cut the top of your cakes, to get two nice smooth tiers. Set your first cake on the dish you will be using to serve and spread half the syrup all over the cake, allowing the cake to absorb it; start from the edges and work you way to the centre. Next, spread the ganache evenly on top of the fist cake, smoothing it well. Place the second cake on top, spread the rest of the syrup on top just like before. Then, spread the Nutella buttercream all over top and sides of the cake, decorating it as you please. I used sprinkles, for the fun of it. Refrigerate for 4-8 hours before serving.

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Also, there are some new awesome plates in town and one in particular goes so well with this cake and the philosophy behind it; check it out here!

Recipe adapted from here


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