This week, I had a little birthday and a lot of cake. Somehow, I ended up with 5 birthday cakes. I’ve never had 5 cakes to mark one birthday… and maybe it was a bit excessive… but it tasted good!
I must say that this extreme burst of sugar following my sugar free diet has not made me feel particularly well. But, I’m sure I will be back to an equilibrium next week.
I can admit to having made 2 of the 5 birthday cakes (yes, it has been described as pathetic), both of which were new recipes for me, and both of which were amazingly easy to make and delicious to eat. Firstly, I made a Buttermilk Chocolate Cake to have on my actual birthday, and secondly I made an Almond and Honey Spiced Syrup Cake for a little dinner party we had to celebrate last night. I’ll share those recipes with you shortly. The other cakes, were made or bought by dear friends (who double as work colleagues).
I already knew that I worked with amazing people. But still, I was totally blown away at how thoughtful and generous my colleagues were on my birthday. One brought in the most delicious Almond, Chocolate and Cherry Tart. Three of my favorite flavours of all time. It was like a Frangipane Tart had been given German Steroids. It was divine – and certainly something I’m going to try to recreate in the future. I do believe it came from the fabulously renowned Silo Bakery here in Canberra. Extremely luscious. Another made an amazing Apple Cake. Apples are so delicious at the moment, and this cake made great use of them. I’m hoping to snaffle that recipe for future use because it was so light and flavourful! And finally, my supervisor made me an epic Five Layered Rainbow Cake with a Maple Meringue Frosting. Unfortunately, the photos from the morning tea didn’t work out so well, but this one gives you an idea of how deliciously fluorescent the rainbow cake was. The Maple Meringue Frosting had a most hypnotic sheen about it too.
The sugar over load was definitely worth it. I’ve never felt so spoilt for cake choice in my life!
I’ll share with you the recipe for the Buttermilk Chocolate Cake now, and post again soon with the Almond and Honey Spiced Syrup Cake, which was part of a middle-eastern themed dinner party. I’ll share the full menu to recipes from that occasion soon!
This Buttermilk Chocolate Cake has the most delectable texture and taste. It almost feels like you’re eating a mud cake cloud. It’s not at all heavy like a mud cake, but it does have the rich, feel-good chocolate characteristics of a mud cake.
I had some issues with temperature and my ganache icing, which caused it to go a touch marbled looking. I made this quite late at night and left the ganache on the bench to come to room temperature over night so I could beat it to a spreadable consistency in the morning. But, it’s a Canberra winter, and when I woke on my birthday morning, my kitchen was about 2°C. Needless to say, I had to remelt the ganache and let it cool again. By which stage, I was running late for work and didn’t have time to beat it, which is why I went with the drippy look. The ganache then cooled a little too quickly again, as I walked with my cake box in the 1°C weather to work. So it didn’t look the best… but it tasted good!
I don’t blame the ganache recipe. It’s not a volatile recipe. I’m on the ganache’s side. It’s perfectly reasonable to seize up which such dramatic temperature change. I feel empathy for the ganache because I feel a bit marbled every morning when I get out of the warm bed and into the freezing world.
I found this cake recipe on The Paper Seed. You’ll need two 9 inch, or 23 cm, cake tins for this recipe. I think I actually used two 20 cm pans by accident, but I just left the tins in for longer (about 10-20 mins longer) and it wasn’t a worry.
You can either make this recipe to have 2 cakes on hand. I’m certain they would freeze well (before icing), but haven’t tried that yet. Or you can do what I did and layer chocolate ganache in between to make a giant cake! It was so tall that I had to trim the tops off the cakes so that the tower would fit in my Tupperware for transport to work.
3 cups plain flour
2 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarb soda)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups canola oil (I used olive oil and it was fine)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups freshly brewed, extra-strong coffee
1 vanilla bean’s worth of seeds
For the ganache
400g dark chocolate
250g unsalted butter
4 tablespoons icing sugar
1 vanilla bean’s worth of seeds
Preheat the oven to 160°C Fan Forced (approx 175°C if you’re not using a fan forced oven). Oil and line two 9 inch cake tins (or 8 inch if you prefer, as I did, which will make an even taller cake).
Place flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, mix on low to combine. Keeping the mixer on low, add oil, buttermilk, then eggs one at a time.
Then, add the coffee in a thin stream, pouring it down the side of the bowl. Add vanilla and mix until batter is smooth. It is a very runny batter – so don’t be put off by that.
Divide into pans and bake until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs, about 30-35 minutes in a 9 inch pan, or 45-55 minutes in an 8 inch pan. I opened the oven door a few times to check if they had set yet and it was a very resilient batter. The cakes rose like troopers despite my constant checking to see if they were still wobbly.
Let cool in tins for at least 20 minutes before turning out onto a rack for final cooling. I left these out overnight to cool as it was getting late and they didn’t dry out at all.
For the ganache, melt butter and chocolate together gently. Add the vanilla and sifted icing sugar and stir until well combined. Don’t let the mixture get too hot, it just needs to come together. Once melted together, pull off the stove to come to room temperature. By room temperature, I mean the type of temperature a room should be (i.e. not 2°C). You’ll see it thicken and get to a stage when you can beat it with a wooden spoon so it becomes luscious and spreadable.
When the cakes are completely cool, trim if required to fit under your cake dome, or in your Tupperware, and then sandwich together with ganache in-between (whipped cream would also be lovely as an alternative). Then with a palette knife spread the ganache all over the cake. Or you can impatiently pour it on and let it drip down before it gets too stiff, like I did.
This recipe is so easy to put together and has so much wow factor, that I think it will become one of my regular go to recipes.