Food

Triple-Layer Chocolate Celebration Cake

Those of you who read this blog regularly may have noticed that I’ve slacked off a little bit in the past few weeks, and there has been a serious lack of baking and cooking posts. The lack of these posts on the blog reflects a lack of activity in the kitchen, and J has been a fantastic provider of last-minute-I-really-need-to-do-this-so-please-can-you-cook-tonight meals as well as a support in countless other ways, whilst I finished my PhD thesis, which I submitted at the end of last week. God was so good to me throughout my research and provided in countless ways so that things worked out right to the end.

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A few weeks ago, whilst in the midst of formatting and editing, I started planning how I might celebrate submitting my thesis in baked form. It didn’t take long before I decided it had to involve chocolate and I really fancied trying a cake with more than two layers (but you know, maybe a bit more normal than nine layers of rainbow cake. A coffee cake with mascarpone icing made by my grandmother quite a while ago convinced me that it had to have mascarpone icing, and well, ganache … ganache is just one of the most awesome, delicious things ever. And so this cake was born in my mind long before it materialised in my hand, and shortly thereafter in my tummy. Unfortunately, this chocolate cake turned out a bit dry – in an earlier version I added half a cup of milk and I’d recommend doing the same if you make this, although I’ve not included it in the instructions below (if you do, beat it into the mixture after mixing in the eggs and then carry on as described with the flour and egg whites). I made this using 9-inch round cake tins. All the cup measurements below were made using a 250 ml mug as equivalent to 1 cup. Apologies for the quality of the method photos – I made this in the evening and the light was not good. Now, all I hope is that it keeps in the fridge until Saturday when I’ll have some calorie-consuming help …

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For the cake:

What you’ll need:

2/3 cup margarine or butter

2 cups light brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

3 eggs, separated

2 cups self-raising flour

Pinch salt

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

What to do:

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5 (190º C or 375º F) and grease the cake tins (I only had two so did them one at a time and washed and re-used one part way through).

2. Cream together the margarine or butter and sugar.

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3. Mix in the vanilla essence and then beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. If you want to add milk, add half a cup (not included in the ingredients list) after the eggs and beat in thoroughly.

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4. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt into the marg/sugar/egg mixture and fold in. If you don’t add milk in the above step, the mixture will look quite dry, as you can see from the photos – don’t worry about it but do make sure the whole thing is mixed thoroughly (and all looks a bit damp) before moving on to the next step.

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5. Beat the egg whites until stiff and then fold thoroughly into the marg/sugar/egg/flour/cocoa powder mixture.

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6. Divide the mixture into three and spread (it is more a spreading or coaxing operation than pouring because the batter is quite stiff) in the three prepared cake tins.

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7. Bake one at a time in the middle of the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes or until just baked. When each layer is done, remove it from its tin and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack.

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For the mascarpone icing:

What you’ll need:

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

4 tablespoons brown sugar

10 tablespoons cold water

500 gram (or 2 x 250 gram) pack of mascarpone

What to do:

1. Thoroughly mix the cocoa powder and sugar with the cold water until it forms a runny paste/mixture thing.

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2. Tip the mascarpone into a mixing bowl and add the cocoa powder and sugar mixture.

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3. Beat together thoroughly with an electric mixer and set aside until needed. The mixture should be spreadable. If it starts to get too runny, put it into the fridge for a few minutes to cool.

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For the ganache:

What you’ll need:

200 gram bar milk chocolate

300 ml carton of double cream

What to do:

1. Heat the cream over a low heat in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over boiling water. As it is warming up, break up the chocolate into small pieces and then add it to the cream.

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2. Stir the cream and chocolate together occasionally until the chocolate has thoroughly melted and been fully incorporated into the cream.

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3. Remove the cream from the heat and set aside to cool. I’m not sure exactly how long I put it aside for but it need to get quite cool as if it is too hot it may melt the mascarpone icing during the assembly stage.

To assemble the cake:

1. Put the first layer of the cooled cake on a plate. I put strips of wax paper around the edge of the cake, between the cake and the plate to make tidying it all up later a bit easier, but you don’t have to.

2. Generously spread about half of the mascarpone icing onto the first layer of cake. Add the second layer of cake and then the rest of the mascarpone icing. Top with the final layer of cake.

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3. Gently pour the (now fairly cool) ganache over the top of the cake and coax it down the sides if necessary. My ganache was probably still a bit too warm and so melted a bit of the mascarpone icing. I put the plate with the cake on it on more wax paper on a tray, to catch all the run-off of the ganache – it made cleaning up a bit easier!

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4. Decorate as desired and then leave in the fridge for at least a couple of hours for the ganache to set before eating. Yum!

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