I had been invited to lunch at Le Manoir by a very good friend. One of her friends was celebrating her birthday close to this day, so she asked me if I’d make a cake to take with us. I’d been given a hemisphere cake tin for Christmas from my daughter and as yet hadn’t used it, so we decided that I’d make a round cake (or I’d try) to take with us.
Looking at the cover the tin was in it stated that a four egg sponge recipe should be made. This is the chocolate cake recipe I made twice, although it was slightly too much – well I also made 6 cupcakes as well, so it you had two tins, I reckon you could probably get away with a 3 egg mix per tin (6 eggs overall)
- 225g unsalted butter
- 225g golden caster sugar
- 200g self-raising flour
- 30g cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 4 eggs
- 1tsp vanilla essence or paste
- 2 tbsp milk
- 50g dark chocolate
- Quantity of fondant icing
Fan 140°C, 275°F, Gas Mark 1
- Medium Hemisphere Cake Tin
- Flower Cutters
- Button Cutters
Preheat the oven. Grease the tin with cake release.
Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixer until pale and fluffy.
Gradually add the beaten eggs and vanilla.
In a separate bowl weigh out the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Sieve this into the mixture, add the milk and fold in.
Melt the chocolate and add to the mixture, stir through until combined.
Put the mixture into the tin – only 2/3rds full to allow the cake to rise. I made cupcakes with the excess mixture! As I said above, I think you could easily get away with a 3 egg mixture.
Put on the bottom shelf of the oven and cook for 1 hour. Don’t open the door or else the cake will sink in the middle. Test to see if the cake is ready by inserting a skewer in the middle if it comes out clean, the cake is done!
Leave the cake to cool in the tin.
Once cooled remove the cake and make the next one if you only have one tin!
I haven’t given the quantities for the buttercream here, as you really don’t need very much as the cake is itself very rich. Spread one of the hemispheres with a thin layer of buttercream and put the other on top. I did intend on cutting a slice off the bottom of one of the cakes to make it sit flat, but I found that once the cakes were together, the weight of them actually flattened the bottom!
Spread a very thin layer of buttercream all around the outside of the cake and place in the fridge to chill. This makes it easier to put the icing on.
I used two packs of Renshaw Green Icing each pack is 250g) to cover the cake. Once kneaded to make it supply, roll it out, big enough to cover the cake. To help me I use a piece of string and hold it on the bottom of one side of the cake and take it over to the other side. This is the diameter I require the icing to be rolled out to. Once on top of the ball, use your hands to smooth it out and cut any excess off. I had quite a bit of green icing left over, but think you would find it hard to use just one pack of icing.
To ice the board, I used Renshaw Pastel Green Icing. Again it was rolled out to just over the size of the board. The board was brushed with water and the icing put on top.
It’s really up to you then what you want to decorate the cake with. I used yellow, pink and white icing with daisy and sunflower cutters, together with button moulds which were filled with fondant and then left for a little while before peeling back the mould. The easiest way I felt was to make eight or so flowers, leave them to dry for a while and then attach them to the cake. You can either attach them using a little royal icing or, by brushing the backs of the flowers with a little water and attaching them to the cake. Cover as much or as little as you like. For the tiny flowers, I added a little sugar ball to the centre of each one.
It did take quite a while to make the cake, but I must admit I loved it once it was finished. We managed to get it to Le Manoir without my friend seeing it. She actually thought she was going on an assault course for her birthday surprise and was told to bring her welly boots, so when we pulled in to Le Manoir’s entrance she was thrilled (we did tell her there would be lunch so dress smart!!). A couple of the petals did unfortunately break on the journey, but never mind.
After a glorious lunch and a walk round the gardens, we came back into the hotel for tea and cake. The lovely staff served us my cake and I was actually asked whether I did commissions, as somebody wanted a cake for their brother’s 21st birthday! What an honour, I’ve never been asked by a stranger before if I could make a cake for them. Perhaps when my kitchen extension is built and I’ve got my hygiene certificate, etc etc I may bake cakes for other people apart from friends and family…
It was a wonderful day and I was so pleased that the cake went down well too!