Dark Chocolate and Ginger Cake

Ginger and chocolate cakeI  wanted to try out a new baking tin I recently bought (Alan Silverwood loose base tin) and was going through my larder trying to figure out what kind of cake to bake. I saw a bag of candied ginger that had been there since last year before Christmas and I never got round to doing anything with it so I thought something with ginger…. trusty google gave me thousands of recipes. But I didn’t want just ginger, I wanted something with it. Why not chocolate? I found several different recipes with ginger and chocolate, but I didn’t have all of the required ingredients at home (ground almonds? No, only flaked. Fresh chilli? No, only dried. Fresh ginger? Used the last bit up for dinner! And so on!).

So this cake is really based on a concoction of recipes I saw online and I mentally filed the cake under “experimental cakes that might need improvement!”, but it turned out better than I thought.

Here’s what I used on ingredients:

50g dark brown sugar

2 tbsp black treacle

75g golden sirup

85g unsalted butter

100ml milk

75g chopped candied ginger

1 large free-range egg, beaten

225g plain flour

¼ tsp sea salt

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

80g of dark chocolate

20g of milk chocolate

Heat your oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

Put the sugar, treacle, honey, milk and ginger into a saucepan and slowly melt it all together. Let it cool down to room temperature while you measure out the dry ingredients. Chop the chocolate into small pieces.  Add the beaten egg to the saucepan and stir it in. Then add the dry ingredients. Lastly add the chocolate pieces and fold them in. Don’t overbeat the batter.

Spoon it into either a loaf tin (450g) or into a 7inch round cake tin and put it in the oven for approx. 40 minutes.

I wanted to make a buttercream with it and by searching for “fluffiest vanilla buttercream ever” I came across this blog and reading “believe me when I say this is the lightest, fluffiest buttercream frosting you will ever make” convinced me to give it a go.

The frosting is very unusual as it contains flour. Here are the ingredients from the website:

1/2 cup whole milk (I used semi-skimmed because that’s all I had)

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vanilla (I used vanilla paste)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)

1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used caster sugar)

Here’s how I made it:

I added the flour to the milk and whisked it in while over a low heat. Once it had thickened I took it off the stove to let it cool. Then I whisked the butter with the sugar in my trusty kitchenmixer until it had a soft creamy consistence. I added the vanilla paste to my cooled down milk and added it to the sugar/butter mixture. Turn your mixer up to high speed. And as the original blog post says, it’s true, you will look at this buttercream mixing in the bowl and think “that’s not going to work out” and then “how much longer does it need whipping?” That’s when you need to step away from it. Make yourself a cup of tea (or in my case, I opened a bottle of wine, seeing that it was evening!) and set my timer to ten minutes. When I came back I had this wonderfully creamy, merengue like, shiny, fluffy and light buttercream in the bowl.

It may take more than ten minutes to beat the hell out of this buttercream and you may also see it split/curdle… don’t despair, just whisk it longer and it will be alright in the end.

For the ginger and chocolate cake I added half a teaspoon of Sicilian Orange flavour to the buttercream.


Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

Peanut Butter Crispy Bars as seen on Unique Sweets (channel 262 on Sky) and based on the Cooking Channel TV recipe (because I forgot to print out the recipe from The Galley Gourmet).

I made some slight changes to the recipe and I changed the quantities of the original recipe because I used a big baking tray and not just a little 8×8 square tin.  I also weighed most of my stuff, so here is the recipe how I made it:

For the crispy layer:

1 bag Organic Puffed Rice Cereal

170g caster sugar

About 6tbsp golden syrup

125g salted butter, melted

For the peanut butter layer:

2 bars of milk chocolate (I used Tesco Luxury Britannia Milk Chocolate 150g), coarsely chopped

½ bar of Green & Black Organic Cooking Chocolate (72% cocoa), coarsely chopped

2 jars smooth peanut butter (340g jars)

For the chocolate layer:

1.5 bars of Green & Black Organic Cooking Chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 dollop of golden syrup

125g salted butter

For the crispy crust layer: Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside. Line your baking tray with baking paper. If you cut it bigger you will have two “handles” to lift the finished crispy bar in one go out of your baking tray.

Into a small saucepan, pour 150 ml water. Gently add the sugar and golden syrup and use a small wooden spoon to stir the mixture until just combined. Put a candy thermometer in the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage, 235 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and pour the mixture over the cereal. Working quickly,  stir until the cereal is thoroughly coated, and then pour it into the prepared pan. Using your hands, press the mixture into the bottom of the pan (do not press up the sides). Let the crust cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.

For the milk chocolate peanut butter layer: In a glass bowl, stir together the chocolate and the peanut butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for about 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the cooled crispy crust layer. Put the pan in the refrigerator until the top layer hardens, about an hour.

For the chocolate icing: In a large glass bowl, combine the chocolate, golden syrup and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the chilled milk chocolate peanut butter layer and spread into an even layer. Put the pan in the refrigerator until the topping hardens, about an hour.

Cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly, for up to 4 days.

The longer you leave them the softer the rice crispies get but it still tastes absolutely moorish!

Double Chocolate Loaf

I came across this double chocolate loaf via foodgawker the other day (have you been on foodgawker yet? OH MY GOD, this is such a cool website, you HAVE to have a look… it’s foodporn, honestly!), anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I wanted to make some kind of chocolate cake and while I have some trusted recipes that always work out and always taste delicious I wanted something different…. So I stumbled across the recipe for a Double chocolate loaf by Mehan’s kitchen.

I had all the ingredients at home and followed the recipe exactly (even though I thought there was a lot of chocolate going in) and while I know that every oven is different I was a bit surprised that after an hour the cake was still liquid in the middle but the rest was baked all around. I added ten more minutes to it and then I took it out. I made a simple sour cream frosting and once it was all set I cut into my cake. The first slice was, mhm, a bit dry. Very chocolaty no less. The next few slices were fine, slightly over baked around the outsides and the chocolate pieces had melted into the batter but in some places it had gone hard. After the forth slice I encountered a big hole right in the middle.

I don’t know what went wrong. Oven temperature too high? Too low? Left it in too long?

The cake tasted delicious, dark and chocolaty and not too sweet and the sour cream frosting added a nice taste to it.

I think I will make this recipe again but this time I will blitz the chocolate to a coarse powder instead of cutting it in small chunks. Maybe I should have used chocolate chips? But I don’t like the chocolate chips you can buy in this country, I rather use a bar of Green & Black’s cooks chocolate bar and chop it up!

It’s bugging me when a cake goes wrong.

This was so much fun to make…

A few months ago I saw a Lego cake in my baking group on Facebook and it looked fabulous. If only I knew someone I could make that cake for, I thought. Fast forward a couple of weeks and Jim’s birthday was looming on the horizon. I asked his girlfriend what Jim likes (hoping she’s give me an idea for a present for him) and all she said was “Lego”. Me: “But he doesn’t eat cake, does he?”. Julie: “Oh, he loves chocolate cake”. Me: “Oh My God, yesssss, I can finally make this cake I’ve been wanting to make for months”.

The Lego cake looks more difficult to make than it actually is. I baked two chocolate cakes (Recipe from Barefoot Contessa) Friday afternoon and on Saturday I made the chocolate butter cream and started on assembling the cake. The butter cream frosting was seriously adult material though, dark and only slightly sweet and containing rum. For serious chocolate cake lovers! Using my trusty mat I rolled out the Royal Icing and covered the cake with it. I learnt from previous cakes not to roll out the icing too thin as otherwise you’ll get cracks in it after a while. I made the top bricks using an ice cube tray and the side bricks were simply rolled out coloured sugar paste. Yes, a plasterer would be appalled by how wonky some of the bricks are and they are not uniformly sized but who cares? It’s a cake! A homemade cake! It’s supposed to look homemade and not factory made!

I was very happy with the end result and so was Jim when I gave him the cake later that day.

One must kiss many frogs to find a prince….

…luckily in this case the little boy whose birthday cake this is doesn’t have to do that, he’s already a very charming prince! Two years old and absolutely adoring. He celebrated his birthday party on Saturday with a bunch of other kids and I made some frog cupcakes for them:

His birthday is actually today so tonight the family comes together to celebrate and for this occasion I made a chocolate cake with raspberry jam and vanilla buttercream. Covered in ivory fondant and decorated with green fondant leaves with hand painted patterns, tiny sugar flowers and of course, a frog!

I think it turned out well!

Chocolate frosted tray bake

I baked this quickly on Sunday afternoon … I was in the mood for chocolate cake and remembered that The Pink Whisk had an easy one the website. I followed the recipe exactly as Ruth wrote it (with the exception of adding half a teaspoon of instant coffee to it) and this is how it came out:

Wonderfully light and velvety and yet moist… simply delicious. The only thing I will change next time I make this cake is the frosting, it’s too much for my liking! I think half the ingredients will be sufficient.

Nigella’s old fashioned chocolate cake

I wanted to try out a new chocolate cake and came across this one from Nigella Lawson: It’s her old fashioned chocolate cake and what convinced me to try it out were her words “because it is, for me, the essence of chocolate cake: melting, luscious and mood-enhancingly good.” How could I resist this recipe? It all went well, the cakes turned out a bit flatter than I thought but judging by the picture of the cake on her blog it wasn’t meant to be a tall cake. The only issue I had was with her icing, I had to use a lot more icing sugar than in her recipe to keep the icing from running down the cake. I’m also not sure about the use of Golden Syrup in the icing… maybe that’s the reason it was quite runny to begin with? I think instead of using 300g of icing sugar I must have used 500g. It still tasted good (when does icing ever taste bad, no matter how much sugar you use when it’s combined with chocolate?) but I will use a different icing recipe for future cakes.


Flourless chocolate cake

This was our Christmas dessert and against all expectations it turned out to be an absolutely awesome cake. When I made it I thought, uh, it’s quite a thin cake batter and I wondered if it was too liquid but when I took the cake out it looked like a real cake (even though there is no flour in it!). The outside is slightly crumbly and uneven and there was a crack running across the cake just as the recipe said there would. The inside was gooey and fudgy yet still light and heavenly chocolaty.
I can totally recommend this cake. It’s really easy to make and tastes great. You will need some berries with it though, as it’s quite rich and it needs some sharpness to cut through this. I served it with a layer of whipped double cream and fresh summerberries piled on top of the cake. I tried to get currants as well as they look like red jewels (or white and black ones depending on which fresh currants you get) and would have been perfect for Christmas but the raspberries, strawberries and black berries did the trick aswell. Finished with some chocolate stars and a bit of gold shimmer (spray) it was indeed a very festive dessert!

300g broken plain chocolate
225g caster sugar
180ml boiling water
225g salted butter, cut into cubes
6 free-range eggs, separated
1tsp instant coffee powder
1tbsp vanilla extract

Double cream for whipping and fresh summerberries to decorate

Grease and line the base of a 9 inch round cake tin. Preheat your oven to 180ºC /gas mark 4.
In a food processor pulse the chocolate and sugar fine. If you’re like me and you don’t have a large food processor but only a small one do it in batches and put the chocolate/sugar mix into a mixing bowl.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff und put in the fridge.
Add the boiling water, butter, egg yolks, coffee powder and vanilla extract to the chocolate/sugar mix and whisk until all combined. Then fold the egg whites into the mixture.
Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake in the oven for about 45-55 minutes. The top will crack during baking!
Once you take the cake out of the oven it will collapse into itself a bit, but that’s ok, it’s meant to be like that. Plus, you can hide all “sins” under the cream and berries!
Let the cake cool before you put it in the fridge for a few hours. Take the cake out of the tin shortly before you want to serve it.

Drummroll, please!

On Saturday I had to bake a cake in the shape of a snare drum for the 50th birthday of a drummer in a band and it was the first time I covered a round cake in fondant. I had known for a few weeks that I had to bake this cake and after the previous experience of trying to cover a square cake in fondant and how difficult it is with just two hands I wisely invested in The Mat.

(Sorry, I tried to embed the video but for some reason it won’t work!)

Ok, I’m not as good as Kathy (the woman in the video) when it comes to rolling out the fondant, in fact, that needed a lot of elbow grease but my rolling pin may simply not be up to the job (it’s a wooden one with no handles, not a good buy actually); however, once you’ve rolled it all out the next steps are as easy as shown in the video. I am so pleased that I bought this mat!
I had googled images of snare drum cakes and there are fantastic looking cakes out there… but waaaay too over the top for my skills. I was particularly worried about the lugs (I thought they were called brackets actually) but thanks to printing out several pictures of actual snare drums and a sudden burst of courage I just went ahead and improvised and used whatever tools I had in my kitchen to add finishing touches. Plus edible silver glitter spray and liquid silver paint. The last bit that went on yesterday was the badge on the side. I didn’t know what kind of drum the birthday boy used so I assumed he had a Pearl drum (which turned out to be correct). I kept the “Pete” in the same writing style as the Pearl logo.
The cake itself is a two tier chocolate cake with a raspberry jam and vanilla buttercream filling.

And here’s the end result! It’s not as sharp lined as I hoped it would be but I am actually very pleased with it! What do you think?

Wiff Waff!

I had to make a ping pong table cake a few weeks ago for a friend’s birthday, who organised a wiff waff competition. I baked two chocolate sheet cakes and used a chocolate fudge buttercream for the filling… that was the easy bit! The tricky bit came when I had to cover the cake in green fondant. The cake was huge so at first I had to clear my kitchen counter from all the stuff that usually stands around (sugar, tea, various coffee pots, kettle etc. etc.). Rolling it out was no problem but lifting the big fondant sheet over the cake was! I tried five times all in all, every time the fondant either tore or I couldn’t get it all the way over and in the end I had to step away from it and go to the pub to calm myself down with a couple of drinks! I must have had a pound of icing sugar in my hair and all over me, not to mention all over my kitchen floor and appliances!
When I came back I covered the two long sides in fondant strips and then just did one big one and smoothed it over the short sides. Easy! 😉
Cutting the white strips and making the bats were no problem whatsoever. Finding the right net/mesh however was one. I briefly played with the idea of making my own net with spun sugar but decided against it when I found a pair of white tights that I didn’t know I had. I cut a small strip off the thigh and just wedged it between two kebab skewers! Voila, the cake was done.