For Friends

Baking for friends is one of the most pleasurable and stressful times!

I am working on perfecting flavour combinations for a Chocolate, Ginger, Coffee and walnut cake.  I know, it sounds like a lot of flavours in one cake, but they complement each other so well!  Different layers of sponge, different buttercream flavours, all moulding together under a light chocolate ganache.  This weekend was the perfect time to try out the cake again, (it has already had one incarnation which came out too dry), so with a slight adaptation, I re-made the cake for some friends who were celebrating birthdays.  One Birthday is today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY FIONA!!) the other is on Monday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY YVETTE!!).

This is a decadent three layer sponge, each sponge has a different flavour element.

So here is my recipe for my “Special Friends” Birthday Cake

Chocolate Sponge

150g Self Raising Flour
150g Butter
100g Caster Sugar
50g Coco Powder
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder

Add all ingredients into your mixing bowl and mix on a medium to high speed until combined.

Walnut Sponge

150g Self Raising Flour
150g Butter
150g Caster Sugar
50g Chopped Walnuts
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Baking Powder

Mix in the same method as the Chocolate Sponge

Ginger Sponge

150g Self Raising Flour
150g Butter
150g Caster Sugar
2 pieces of Stem Ginger (I use Opies Stem Ginger in Syrup available from most supermarkets)
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Baking Powder

Mix together in the same method as the above sponges

Line and grease three  7″ cake pans, and pour your cake batters into their respective tins, cook on gas mark 4 for about 25 minutes until all three cakes are lightly browned, and spring back to the touch.  Remove from the oven, leave in their tins until completely cool before turning out on a wire rack!

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The fillings are a simple mix of butter creams in a coffee flavour and a ginger flavour.  To make the Butter cream:

250g Good quality butter.  Many people call for unsalted butter, I use salted.  For me it just adds some flavour depth.
500g Icing Sugar
3 Table Spoons of Double Cream

Dice and place your butter in a mixing bowl and mix on high speed until the butter is smooth.  Add, 1 tablespoon at a time the icing sugar, mixing on a fairly high speed and also making sure each table spoon of icing sugar is incorporated before you add the next one.  Finally add the cream and continue to mix until all is incorporated.  You will now have a fluffy light buttercream.

Split this into to bowls, and to one add 3 dessert spoons of the ginger syrup from the stem ginger jar, mix well.  To the other bowl add 3 dessert spoons of strong black coffee and again mix well.

Assembling the Cake

Now for the fun part.  Before we start assembling the cake, make your chocolate ganache.  For this use 200g good quality chocolate.  Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl.  In a saucepan add 200ml of Double (heavy) cream and 1 dessert spoon of butter.  Set on a medium heat until the cream starts to boil.  As soon as it does, remove from heat, pour over your chocolate pieces, and whisk until all the chocolate has melted.  Set to one side until you have finished decorating the cake.

Now, take your chocolate sponge and place on your serving board/plate.  Spread the chocolate layer with the butter cream.  You will want a fairly generous layer of butter cream, but will find you only need to use half of the butter cream you have.

Lay the walnut layer on top and cover with the Coffee buttercream. Again you will only use about half of the butter cream.  Now gently lay the Ginger sponge on top, then using the remaining coffee and ginger buttercream, spread a thin layer over the top, and then around the sides of the cake.

Make this layer of buttercream as smooth as you can, use a palette knife to achieve a smooth top and to spread the cream around the sides.  Place the cake in the fridge for about 10 minutes to allow the buttercream to set.

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Now, remove the cake from the fridge, take your ganache and pour onto the centre of the cake.  Very gently using your palette knife spread the ganache from the centre to the outside edges.  Try to create a smooth finish, then using the ganache that runs down the side of the cake, spread this in an even layer around the edges of the cake.

Dont worry too much if some of the buttercream shows through, after all this is a homemade cake but do try and keep the layer of ganache even.

Now for the fun part, the sprinkles!  I used some ready made milk and white chocolate cherubs, to decorate around the top edge of the cake, then white sugar pearls which I literally tool handfuls and sprinkled randomly on top, then “chucked” them at the side of the cake letting them hit and stick in a random pattern.

The final touch was pink sugar crystals which were scattered over the top and edges of the cake, again in a random pattern.  I have a feeling I will be finding little bits of sugar and pearls in random places around the kitchen for days!!

The end result is a decadent, delightful treat!

Happy Baking!

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4 Comments

  1. Woolly says:

    Looks YUMMY! My birthday’s in March!

    1. I will remember, if you remind me 🙂

  2. For happy friends I’d say, lucky them – sounds yum, and looks fab!

    1. davidwhipps says:

      Ah thank you, it was rather nice even if I say so myself! Was the first time I managed a really smooth finish on the Ganache!

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