Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Hannah's Big Choccy Cake


I'm no cake decorator. This was proven at the weekend when I was asked to bake a chocolate cake for a friend's mother's 60th birthday. When I told my friend that I was no fancy cake decorator, they said, "Don't worry, just make it nice and chocolatey". Then they said, "Can you also put Happy 60th Pat Love From Jim, Tony and Donna?". Why of course I can Donna, not a problem.

The cake wasn't the problem. I've made hundreds of them. Then again, I've never completely covered one in icing or a ganache. It requires a steady hand. Oh, so does the writing. Then it is going to look a little unspectacular with just brown icing and a few words on the top. And now I'm committed to it. AAAGGGHHH!!!

It is times like this that I'm glad I met a certain Hannah Miles, the number one cake baker in the West. Nobody does cakes like Hannah, loud and proud they are. So it was onto the cake hotline for a few tips. Before I knew it, a few loud feathers with hearts on and a nice ribbon or two had arrived registered post. Just in time I may add. So, after a nerve wracking 20 minutes or so perfecting the smothering of my own chocolate fudge 'ganache', and a further 15 minutes wobbling the requested wording onto the cake, ("Eeeeeh, it looks just like your own hand writing Davey", exclaimed my surprised wife, good detective work Helen), it was time for the finishing touches. With great trepidation, I rammed a giant 6 and 0 into the surface then skewered behind with Hannah's magnificent feathers. Then, like a professional cow herder, I lassoed the cake with the matching ribbons and expertly tied them into a giant bow. Always one for melodramatics, I'm obviously exaggerating here. I think I just about got away with it. The mother cried when she saw it, (with happiness, not fear I've been promised) the family finished it within minutes and my first stint as a special event cake baker was over.

So I've decided to call this one Hannah's Big Choccy Cake, as it was big, covered in chocolate and had Hannah's stamp all over it. The cake is simplicity. A basic recipe for a Victoria Sponge recipe with some of the flour replaced with cocoa powder. Thanks for the decorations Hannah, you are a true star.

Hannah's Big Choccy Cake
Feeds Lots

6 eggs
Butter
Caster sugar
Self Raising flour
Vanilla extract
A splash of milk
A pinch of salt
50g Cocoa powder

For the chocolate fudge coating
100g sugar
100ml evaporated milk
150 g 70% cocoa chocolate
50g butter
Vanilla extract

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C, GM4. Butter and line 2x 20cm round baking tins with removable bases.
2 - Weigh the eggs whole and take a note of the weight.
3 - Weigh out exactly the same amount of butter as the eggs and cream until soft in a large bowl. Weigh out the sugar, again to the same weight, and beat into the creamed butter until light and fluffy.
4 - Weigh out the flour to the same weight as the eggs but omit 50g of flour and add 50g Cocoa powder. Add a pinch of salt.
5 - Add the eggs one by one to the butter and sugar mixture, beating until thoroughly mixed each time. Then beat in the flour and cocoa, and a tablespoon of vanilla extract, until thoroughly combined. Do a drop test. Take a tablespoon of the mixture and hold above the bowl. If it drops off reasonably easy, then it is ready. If it doesn't, add a splash of milk and beat in thoroughly until you get a mixture that drops off a spoon easily. This is scientific stuff.
6 - Split the mixture between the two baking tins and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Once baked, upturn both cakes onto a wire rack to cool.
7 - To make the chocolate fudge coating, put the sugar and evaporated milk into a pan and bring to the boil, stirring. Leave to simmer for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate, butter and vanilla extract. Leave to cool.
8 - To decorate, simply (I say simply!) smear the coating into the centre making a sandwich with the two cakes and outside of the cake using a palette knife. Scribble on some words using a piping bag with icing sugar in and of course, some extravagant decorations courtesy of lovely friends like Hannah.

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