Recipe 217 – American Chocolate Wedding Cake

If I’m honest with you, when I first started baking from this book, I always thought this recipe would be the last one I would bake, and if I’d pulled my finger out over the past few months, it probably would have been!  If it wasn’t for the fact that yesterday was my son’s 16th birthday and he requested a chocolate cake, I probably wouldn’t have baked it, but as soon as he said chocolate cake a little bell began to ring in the back of my brain, telling me that there was a chocolate cake still to be baked from the book, but it was rather elaborate!

I said to my son that I’d gladly bake him a chocolate cake, in fact it would be a big cake with three layers and did he want to see it.  When I showed him the picture his face dropped, he said there was no way he was having a birthday cake with flowers on it, and if I did he wouldn’t eat it!!  As a compromise I said I could decorate it with sweets, to which he agreed (but deep down I really wanted to decorate it with flowers – perhaps I will).

Baking for the cake started the day before his birthday.  I’d been out and walked the dog, my daughter was at work and my husband and son were at rugby so I decided whilst the house was quiet it was time to put the task in hand.

The first thing I noted was the fact that you needed a 15cm (6″), a 23cm (9″) and a 30cm (12″) cake tin.  I knew I didn’t have a 30cm tin – I’ve always borrowed one off my mum before, so I thought I’d have to adapt the recipe somehow.  As the cake serves about 100 people I knew this was far too large for what we would require – even though my son loves chocolate cake, there was no way he’d eat that much, surely!  I decided to use the 23cm cake as the bottom layer and the 15cm cake as the middle layer.  It was what to use for the next layer, when suddenly I had a brain wave.  I decided to cut a circle out of the 15cm cake, fill up the hollow with sweets and then place the piece I had cut out on top, therefore making it into 3 layers!  Now I had decided what I was going to do it was time to get baking.

In this recipe Mary states that you can either bake all three cakes at once (which I would imagine would require a HUGE mixing bowl as it needed 38 eggs in total).  I did think about making the cakes separately, but as I was only baking two of the layers (the middle and top in the original recipe), I felt that the mixture should fit in my largest mixing bowl.

I’ll give the quantities for the individual cakes at the end to make it easier.  If you want to make them all together, then just add the quantities up.

The oven was preheated to Fan 170°C and the tins were greased and the base and sides lined with parchment.

A large quantity of chocolate was broken up and placed in a bowl which had been set over a plan of simmering water.  There was rather a lot of chocolate,so it was stirred every few minutes and eventually it had all melted.  This was put to one side to cool.

Whilst the chocolate mixture was cooling it was time to get on with the tedious task of separating the eggs, the egg white are also required in the recipe, so at least I wouldn’t be making thousands of meringues with them!  A few whole eggs were also added to the yolks.  It was then time to add the sugar.  The egg and sugar mixture was mixed together with my electric hand mixer, I did think at one stage it wouldn’t cope with the large quantity but it did (I’ll keep on saving up for my KitchenAid).  Once the mixture was thick and light in colour it was time to add the melted chocolate, together with the ground almonds  and the coffee.  Using a large spatula this was folded in and boy was it difficult.  The amount of mixture in the bowl made it very difficult, but it also seemed to weigh a ton.  Eventually it all came together.

Next the egg whites were whipped up until they were stiff but not dry.  These too had to be folded in to the chocolate mixture, very gently in order not to let any air escape – I didn’t want flat cakes after all this trouble.  Once these had been folded in the mixture was poured into the two tins.  To ensure the cakes would be the same thickness I stood the tins next to each other and filled them to the same height – something I realised afterwards wasn’t going to work!

Mary says the cakes can all be baked in the oven at once.  The large cake on the middle shelf and the two smaller ones on the top shelf (in my case both cakes on the top shelf).  I’ll put at the end how long to cook everything for.  The cakes themselves didn’t actually take as long to bake as I thought they would.  I did have to put a sheet of foil over the larger cake as it appeared to be browning too quickly, although in the ‘Tips’ Mary does state that because the cakes have a high sugar and chocolate content they are susceptible to burning.

The cakes should be done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out nearly clean.  From this I assumed that they would be of a fudgy texture.  Once they had been removed from the oven, they were left in the tin for a few minutes and then removed from the tins, the parchment removed and left to cool on a wire rack.  I was surprised to see that my small (15cm ) cake had risen considerably and it looked more like a Chocolate Panettone when I took it out of the tin.

Looking at the cakes once they had cooled, I realised that I could actually get two cakes out of my 15cm cake as it had risen so much.  I cut the cake to the same depth as the 23cm cake and was surprised to find that the off-cut actually measured the same depth!  This meant that I didn’t have to cut a piece out of the 15cm cake and fill it with sweets.  I was really pleased with this.  Using a slightly smaller tin, probably about 10cm, I put this on top of the cake and cut around it to get a smaller cake for the top-tier.

The cakes were packed away in tins for the night, with the icing to be carried out tomorrow.

After taking the dog for his early morning walk it was time to finish the cakes off.    The first thing to do was to warm up some apricot jam and brush this over the top and sides of the cake to seal them.   I actually turned the cakes upside down in order to get a lovely flat surface to ice.  It was time for the icing.  I did think of making all the icing in one go, but decided against it and thought I’d make up the icing for the 23cm (9″) cake first.  The plain chocolate was broken up in a bowl and it was put over a pan of simmering water.  Once melted the butter was added and stirred until it had all melted.

I did as Mary said and stood the cakes back on the wire racks and put a baking sheet underneath to collect any drips.  A small amount of chocolate was poured over the top and spread out with a palette knife.  At this point I realised the chocolate was far too runny and if I let if go over the sides it would completely run off.  So I waited a while until it had cooled and thickened.  I was surprised to see that I had more than enough chocolate to cover both the top and sides of the 23cm cake.  In fact I had enough chocolate to cover both the other two cakes too, so I was rather pleased I hadn’t gone ahead and made all the icing as this would have been a dreadful waste of all that chocolate (and butter).  The icing on the cake seemed thick enough to me.  The cakes were put to one side to allow the icing to set.

It was now time to assemble them.  Mary states that the cakes are firm enough to stack as they are, so fingers crossed I hoped she was correct.  Once they were all stacked up the cake was beginning to look good.  It was now time to decorate.  Around the sides I placed some Smarties.  I really wanted to do something pretty and not put sweets on them, but I thought it’s too late now.  But then I had an idea, what if I put some ribbon around each layer of cake to hide the Smarties and then placed some flowers on to the cake, I could take a photo of it and then remove the ribbon and flowers and finish putting the sweets on it for my son’s birthday.

I was so pleased that I did this as although my son thought the cake was huge and loved the sweets, I wasn’t very happy with it!!  The cake with the ribbon and flowers on however looked completely different and it was just as I had imagined the cake to be.  I used the flowers that I had kept from our wedding cake as I didn’t have any fresh flowers in the house.  If I had thought of it, I could have made some flowers to go on the cake, as the lady who made the flowers for our wedding cake actually taught me how to decorate cakes some 18 years ago.  Although we used fondant to cover the cakes, everything else was done in royal icing!  Although I’ve made a few flowers etc in the last 18 years, they wouldn’t be as good as these and I’m glad I thought of them.

The cake itself was as I thought very fudge like, almost like a dessert cake and you can see why Mary suggests serving it with a Raspberry Coulis.  Well there’s so much of it still left and I’ve frozen raspberries in the freezer picked from the allotment this year, that I may just do that tomorrow…

American Chocolate Wedding Cake - flowers

As promised, here’s the quantities required for each cake:-

Ingredients

15cm (6” Cake)

23cm (9” Cake)

30cm (12” Cake)

Plain Chocolate

175g

525g

900g

Large Eggs (separated)

3

10

17

Large Eggs (whole)

1

2

5

Caster Sugar

150g

425g

700g

Ground Almonds

75g

275g

475g

Freshly Made Black Coffee

½ tsp

2½ tsp

4½ tsp

Apricot Jam

2 tbsp

75g

100g

 Baking Time

45 mins

1-1.25 hrs

1.25-1.75 hrs

Icing
Plain Chocolate

225g

350g

550g

Unsalted Butter

75g

150g

225g

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2 thoughts on “Recipe 217 – American Chocolate Wedding Cake

  1. Amazing, you should be happy with it! That looks delicious, love the idea of having the a tier hollow and filling with sweets, might pinch that idea for the next kids birthday cake!

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