Goodness we’ve been busy!
There’s a string of birthdays at the end of August and beginning of September, and I’ve been baking cakes. Lots of cakes. I’ve simplified the process this year by baking in the paper pans I bought from Southern Cross Supplies…
I always use our Chocolate Slab recipe, and for Small Man’s cake above, I divided the batter between two of the 8″ pans (I’ll include another copy of the recipe below).
For Carol, Lily and Maude’s cakes, we made a batch of dark caramel in our new copper pot and squiggled it out onto an oiled tray. Once set, it was broken into shards (or “wings”, as Nic called them) which were positioned on top of the cakes after frosting…
We still have to work a bit on our presentation, but overall we were pretty happy with the result!
Chocolate Birthday Cake
- 1¾ cups (440ml) boiling water
- 170g (6oz) dark chocolate, chopped finely (we use Callebaut 811/54% dark callets)
- 1 cup (110g) Dutched cocoa
- 2 cups (300g) plain (all purpose) flour
- 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), sifted
- good pinch salt
- 285g (10oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 1¾ cups (packed) (380g) brown sugar
- 4 large (59g) free range eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (we use homemade)
1. Preheat oven to either 165C (330F) with fan (if baking in paper pan) or 175C (350F) with fan (if baking in a metal pan). Spray two 8″/20cm paper pan with oil. Alternatively, line two 8″ round pans with parchment paper. Note that the original Mrs Fields’ recipe specified 9″ pans for a wider, flatter layered cake.
2. In a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over the dark chocolate and let it sit for five minutes. Add the cocoa and stir with a whisk until the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the cake.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, sifted bicarb soda and salt.
4. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, then add all the flour mixture and half the chocolate mixture. Beat on low speed to combine, then on high for 1½ minutes. Add remaining chocolate mixture and beat on low to combine.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 40-50 minutes (time will vary depending on the thickness of the batter and your oven temp), until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Be careful not to overcook. Remove the cakes from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once cool, carefully tear the sides and base of the paper pans away.
This quantity of batter is sufficient for a very large double-layered cake. For the cakes we were giving away, I made single layers (each using a half batch of the batter) and decorated them with chocolate frosting and toffee shards.
. . . . .
Chocolate Frosting (makes enough for one large double layered cake)
- 315g (1¼ cups) unsalted butter, softened
- 500g (4 cups) icing sugar mixture (powdered sugar), sifted
- 110g (1 cup) Dutched cocoa powder, sifted
- 10ml (2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
- Milk as required to make a spreadable frosting – start with 65g (¼ cup) milk and add more as needed
1. Sift the icing sugar mixture and cocoa together in a large bowl. Be warned – if you don’t sift, you’ll end up with lumpy icing!
2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter in a large bowl, then beat in a third of the icing sugar/cocoa mixture and the vanilla. Beat in the remainder of the icing sugar/cocoa mixture alternately with as much milk as needed to create a spreadable frosting.
This recipe is a family favourite, and I find that it always works. When baked as a large sheet cake, the texture is a little tenderer (possibly because I top it with a chocolate glaze while still hot). As round layers, the crumb is a bit sturdier, which makes them perfect for stacking and decorating with frosting.
Oh, and a note to my friend Sally – we did try making spun sugar. I ended up with hard toffee stuck to my hair, on my fleece vest, on my slippers, concreted to the floor tiles…suffice to say it didn’t go all that well the first time. We’ll have to try again!