First Try - Gilt Dots
Whew, busy past week what with making my first practice cake prototype. It is almost a direct copy from Cakewalk, except my dots are more randomly placed and less of them. I loved gilding the dots with pearl dust.
Also made a birthday cake, or rather, three.
Cake number one was the Chocolate Coffee Volcano Cake from How to be a Domestic Goddess, by the ever lovely Nigella Lawson.
Cake number two was actually two dozen cupcakes made with the same cake recipe from Lawson's book, but iced with irregular breast-like mounds of chocolate buttercream topped with a smidgen of vanilla butter cream, (making the mounds even more breast-ish), then drizzed with melted bittersweet chocolate. (I forgot to take pics, so you have use your imagination here).
Cake number three (as seen above) was the same cake recipe filled with chocolate butter cream and iced with Nesquick flavoured whip cream, then liberally sprinkled with chocolate rocks. Those rocks taste good...gotta get some more of those!
The cake component of this recipe is very versatile, it worked for all three above variations quite nicely.
Chocolate Coffee Volcano
for the cake:
300g caster sugar
140g plain flour, preferably Italian 00
80g cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated, plus 2 more egg whites (from the yolks you need for the cafe creme)
125ml vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
for the cafe creme:
225ml double cream
6 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons light muscovado sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
for the topping:
approximately 12 teaspoons (i.e., 4 tablespoons) Tia Maria or rum
125g chopped walnuts
4 tablespoons demerara sugar
25cm bundt tin, oiled
chef's kitchen blowtorch, (Instead I popped mine under the broiler with no problems.)
It makes sense to get on with the custard first. So, warm the double cream gently in a saucepan. Mix the yolks, sugar and espresso powder together in a bowl, and pour the warm cream over this mixture, whisking to combine. Pour the mixture back into the rinsed-out suacepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens; with this ratio of yolks to liquid, it won't take any time at all. Pour into a bowl, cover with wet baking parchment and leave to cool.
Get on with the cake as soon as you've made the custard. It, too, must cool before assembly. (Indeed, you may well find it easier to make both cake and custard a day in advance.)Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 (not that that means a hell of alot to us here!), putting in a baking sheet as you do so. In a large bowl, mix together 200g of the caster sugar, the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt. I don't bother to sift if I'm using 00 flour; otherwise, you should. In a measuring jug, whisk together the yoks, oil, water and vanilla. Pour over the dry ingredients gradually, beating to combine.
In another bowl, whisk the 6 egg whites until they are foamy and forming soft peaks. Add the remaining 100g of sugar, a spoonful at a time, still whisking, till the whites are thick and shiny and hold their shape. Briskly beat a large dollop of whites into the cake mixture to lighten it, then a thrid at a time, fold in the remaining whites.
Pour the mixture into the oiled tin and place on the baking sheet in the preheated oven. Bake for 40 minutes, by which time the cake should be springy and coming away from the sides of the tin. Let the cake cool in its tin on a rack for 25 minutes before turning it out.
Pour or sprinkle the Tia Maria - or rum - onto the top of the cake, letting the liqueur soak in after each teaspoon. Of course, you could use tablespoons or just pour from the bottle, but you do want to make sure the cake's moistened rather than drenched.
When you are ready to serve, place the cake on a plate with a lip - or an almost-flat wide bowl - and fill the centre with the walnuts. Pour the cold custard into the remaining space in the centre, letting it overflow a little over the shoulders, so to speak, and the sides. Sprinkle the demerara sugar, a little at a time , so that it doesn't soak in, on top of the cake, and use the blowtorch to caramelize the top.