I must have been mad to bake this cake on the hottest day of the year so far! There’s not only chocolate ganache involved, but also chocolate icing! This is also my last recipe from the ‘Chocolate Cakes’ section of this book!
The oven was reluctantly put on at Fan 160°C and a 20cm (8″) round deep cake tin was greased and the base lined with parchment.
Reading through the recipe, this looked as though it was going to take quite some time to prepare. The first thing required was to melt 200g plain chocolate, together with 100g unsalted butter. It was so warm, I honestly think that if I’d have put my bowl in the sunshine, the chocolate and butter would have melted within minutes. However, I got a tiny pan out of the cupboard and filled it partially with water. This was brought to a simmer and the bowl of chocolate and butter was put on top, stirring the ingredients occasionally until they had melted. This was put to one side to cool.
Into a large mixing bowl I put 3 large egg yolks (keeping the egg whites to one side for later), together with 100g dark muscovado sugar. This was to be whisked until it was pale and creamy. I must admit I had my doubts at first, this was dark muscovado sugar that I was using, not golden caster sugar. The initial mix proved me right, there was no way this was going to go pale and creamy, but I was to be proved wrong, after a few minutes the mixture did indeed turn a very pale colour – but it took some time due to the hard lumps that I had in my muscovado sugar. Even the electric mixer was struggling at first to break them up, but eventually we got there and the mixture was pale and creamy in colour, just as Mary says it would be.
To the egg mixture I added the cooled melted chocolate mixture together with 50ml dark rum. I was surprised to see just how much 50ml of rum actually was. It was extremely overpowering when I poured it in and I hoped that the cake wouldn’t just taste of rum as it’s not one of my favourite flavours. The chocolate and rum were mixed into the egg mixture until combined. It was then time to gently fold in 75g sifted self-raising flour together with 50g ground almonds. I hate folding in, I usually end up with big pockets of unfolded flour which normally show themselves as I pour the batter into the baking tin. I spent a little longer than normal folding the flour in to ensure that it was all mixed in evenly.
The last thing to be put into the mixture were the three egg whites which I whipped up until they were stiff but not dry. These were lightly folded in and the mixture was turned into the tin. Mary says to level the surface, but my mixture was runny enough to level itself. The cake was popped into the oven and I set the timer for 45 minutes.
I actually left my cake in the oven for 45 mintues and in all honesty I think it was slightly overdone. It had risen well although the top was slightly cracked. I did go and sit in the garden (in the shade I hasten to add as it was 32°C outside) and I forgot all about the cake. I normally look at my cakes 10 minutes before the end (my timer lets me know when there are 10 minutes and 5 minutes left), but I didn’t hear it. It was only when I could smell the cake baking from the garden that I realised just how long I had been sat outside for! The cake was left in the tin for a couple of minutes before I removed it to finish cooling on a wire rack. The parchment was also peeled off the bottom at this time.
It was time to make the filling/icing. 225g plain chocolate was broken up and melted. Mary says to do this the way I melted the chocolate above, but I cheated and put it into the microwave, heating it up in 20 second bursts. Once it had melted I added into it 100g unsalted butter which had been cut into small cubes. The chocolate mixture was stirred until the butter had melted and the chocolate resembled thick pouring cream.
The cake was cut in half horizontally and a little of the chocolate icing was used to fill it. In another bowl I measured out 4tblsp apricot jam. Again I melted this gently in the microwave. Once melted it was pushed through a sieve and brushed over the cake top and sides and allowed to set. At this point the cake was moved into the dining room, the only room in the house which is north facing and so stays lovely and cool in the summer. This also allowed time for the icing to cool and thicken a little more, which I felt I needed in the heat of the day.
I decided to do the next stage in the dining room where it was lovely and cool as I had visions of the icing all running off the cake into a pool underneath if I attempted to cover the cake in the kitchen (the windows in the kitchen face south and west, so it is normally full of sun from around 10am until sunset). I carefully poured the icing over the top and using a palette knife smoothed it over the top and sides. I was pleased to say that it remained on the cake! I also had quite a lot of icing left over, I think I could have put more into the middle of the cake, although Mary does state “to use a little of the icing” – oh well I’m sure it will be put on another cake! The icing was again left to set.
The next part of the cake is optional, but I thought if I’m baking every recipe in the book then I’ve got to go the whole hog and do everything, even though I was dreading how many calories there were to be in each slice. All the recipe seems to consist of is chocolate, butter, cream and alcohol! For the chocolate ganache 175g plain chocolate was broken into a bowl to which I also added 4 tablespoons of single cream (I actually added double cream as I didn’t have any single cream and it didn’t appear to make any difference to the finished product). The mixture was stirred occasionally until the chocolate had melted. This was left to cool slightly and then 50g diced butter was added and beaten in a little at a time. Two large egg yolks and 1tblsp dark rum were added and beaten in. The mixture was left to once side until it had cooled and thickened, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture was firm enough to hold its shape it was put into a piping bag with a star nozzle and rosettes of the ganache were piped over the top of the cake.
Tastewise it was very, very rich, although I was surprised that the rum didn’t appear to come through that much. It was certainly very, very chocolatey! The next day, however, the rum appeared to be a lot stronger. We all liked the cake and I think it would be one that I’d bake again, probably for a special occasion though as it’s a little too rich for an ‘every day’ cake!