I wanted to make a really special cake for a friend’s 30th birthday and also thought it was a great opportunity to share my favourite ever chocolate cake recipe.
This recipe uses sour cream so manages to stay incredible moist but still have a butter base. I always find that butter based cakes can be a bit heavy and dry while so you end up having to weigh up flavour (butter) and consistency (usually achieved better with an oil based cake).
But this one is perfect, and even better layered with fresh cream and raspberries.
So my big lesson re-visted was splitting and layering cakes. You may remember my original post from January last year which ran through the process of splitting, filling, masking and icing cakes.
Again I’ve copped out of the masking and icing stages, but I promise to take on the challenge this month.
Another thing I tried for the first time with this cake was tempering chocolate to get my little heart decorations. This isn’t something easy to do in the Queensland climate and I laughed the other week when people on Great British Bake Off were complaining that it was 25C inside the tent.
The tempering itself wasn’t too bad but it certainly tested my piping skills (I think my biggest challenge was making the icing bag out of a piece of baking paper!). To temper chocolate you simply need to heat half of your chopped chocolate to 53C in a bowl over boiling water, stirring constantly. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the remaining half of chopped chocolate and continuing stirring gently until the chocolate cools to 31C or lower and is thick enough to pipe.
Chocolate layer celebration cake
1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup good quality cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon bi-carb soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup water
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
Preheat oven to 175C. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans, knocking out excess flour.
Into a bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bi-carb soda, and salt.
In a separate bowl whisk together sour cream, water, and vanilla.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in batches alternately with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating until batter is blended well.
Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth tops. Bake layers in middle of oven 25 to 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on racks 10 minutes before turning out onto racks to cool completely.
Carefully split each cake in two, then assemble the cake by placing a layer of fresh whipped cream and a dozen fresh raspberries on each disc of cake. Top with a final layer of cream, fresh raspberries and tempered chocolate hearts.