Sunday, 30 June 2013

Looking for the Perfect Chocolate Birthday Cake Recipe

This week it was my sister's birthday. I volunteered to make her birthday cake and was quickly instructed that it must be a chocolate cake. I wanted to do something a bit more special than a victoria sponge recipe with cocoa powder and quickly thought of a Lorainne Pascale cake I made in the spring. I have linked the recipe above but it can also be found in the book below.

A quick note about the book- there are some great, classic recipes in this book but there are quite a few of them on the BBC food website so I would bear that in mind if you are considering buying it. Another small issue I have with this book is that for some of the recipes there are no photos. This is not always a problem but I was put off making the 'Red Velvet 3 Tier Cake' when I had no image to give me an idea of how my creation should look.

Lorainne Pascale cake I made in spring. 
I had a few issues with this recipe. Not really with the cake itself, more with the decorations Lorainne suggests and the buttercream. As you can see in the picture above, I did not use the chocolate cigarillos that look so beautiful in the picture of Lorainne's cake. This is because of how expensive they are! Lorainne reckons that you would need around 75 chocolate cigarillos to go round the cake and the cheapest I have found for that quantity for is on Amazon and they would come to £19 including delivery- ouch. I opted for Cadbury's chocolate fingers instead which don't look nearly as elegant but came to around £2.50. For my sister's birthday cake I wanted to find something more attractive than chocolate fingers but less expensive than cigarillos. I also wanted to change the buttercream to chocolate ganache- far more luxurious and suitable for special occasions. As pretty as the strawberries look on the cake above, they quickly made the cake slightly soggy and meant that the cake had to be kept in the fridge rather than the cupboard after the first serving. With this in mind, I quickly came up with a 'compromise cake'.

 For the chocolate ganache I  looked to Nigella's Lawson's book How to Eat for help and chopped up 120 grams of milk chocolate and 120 grams of dark chocolate and put it aside in a bowl. I then heated up 230ml of double cream (or heavy cream if you're American) until it was almost boiling, then poured it over the chocolate until a beautifully glossy mixture was achieved. Once the cake (Lorainne's recipe above) was cool, I spread the ganache generously across the sides and the top of the cake. I decided to use Mikado chocolate biscuit sticks instead of chocolate fingers around the side of the cake and they looked far more elegant. I then added these milk chocolate and white chocolate stars but they'd be pretty easy to make if you'd prefer. For the finishing touch, I tied the bright pink ribbon around the cake. So there you have it, my adapted 'I can't believe you made that cake'. Thanks Lorainne for the great recipe inspiration!

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