Thursday, 14 August 2014

Best-ever Chocolate Sandwich!

Today was A Level results day in the UK. My super clever brother did AMAZINGLY well (A*AB and an offer from his first choice University!!! :D :D :D :D ) All this celebration called for cake, so I grabbed my trusty cooking book,500 Fabulous Cakes and Bakes.

When baking for my brother you can rarely have too much chocolate, so when I stumbled across the 'Best-ever Chocolate Sandwich' I knew I was on to a winner. It turned out pretty well, so I thought I'd share the recipe. Its a bit fiddly, but nothing too hard, and is brimming with chocolaty goodness.

The recipe came from quite an old book, but I think you can still buy it second hand. I'd really recommend it if you want good comprehensive baking guide. If you follow the recipes, then everything I've tried turns out as you'd expect. It has a good balance of simple ideas and more technical bakes, as well as some ambitious decorating. It's a great place to look for inspiration.

This recipe makes a beastly three teared cake, so if you want something more modest you could always scale down the ingredients.

For the Cake

You need:
115g of plain flour
50g of cocoa powder
1 tsp of baking powder
A pinch of salt
6 eggs
225g of caster sugar
2 tsp of vanilla essence
115g of unsalted butter (melted)

Three 20 cm/8 inch cake tins, some greaseproof paper, a sauce pan, a load of mixing bowls and some spoons are also pretty handy.

Start by lining your 3 tins with greasproof paper. Then grease the tins with butter and sprinkle them with flour, shaking off any excess. Then preheat your oven to 180'C/350'F/Gas 4. (Although if you want to save on power you could do this a little bit later, maybe after the next two steps)

Now its time for the exciting stuff! :)

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. The recipe told me to do this 3 times. I don't own a sifter, so I just chucked it all in and took extra care to mix it well and remove any lumps and bumps with my hands. This turned out alright!

They also wanted you to divide your mixture into 3 batches, ready for your 3 tins. I didn't have enough bowls at hand to do this, so I ignored this too. (opps) I think it is probably worth doing if you want your cakes to really rise and be extra light and fluffy, but if you want to get around this step like me, just make sure you really really fold the mixture well at every stage, and you should be okay :)

Now grab your eggs and sugar, and mix them in a separate heat proof bowl.

Put this on top of a saucepan of simmering water and beat the mixture until it doubles in volume. This will take about 10 mins. This may sound like a lot, but it gives you a nice arm workout at the same time, which basically gives you guilt free cake eating at the end, perfect!

(If you haven't already, preheat your oven now! This should give you enough time to get it nice and hot - depending on how speedy your baking skillz are. Worst case scenario, you have to wait a few mins at the end.)


When the eggy sugary mix has doubled, take it of the heat, and add the vanilla essence. Now fold the flour mixture into this. If you split the flour across three tins earlier, keep it that way. If not, fold fold fold, get that air in.

Now melt your butter (you could do this over a saucepan of boiling water, but after the 10 mins of
sugar and egg mixing I was lazy and used the microwave. Sorry Mary Berry) Then fold this evenly through your mixtures.

Put the mixtures into tins, making sure its evenly spread and put your cakes in the oven!

Bake for about 25 mins (though a quick heads up, my fan oven got it done around the 20 min mark)
When the cake sides start to pull away from the tin sides, your done!

Leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack.

For the Icing
You can get started on the icing as soon as the cakes go in the oven, as it takes a little while to cool.
I forgot to get my whipping cream and eggs from the fridge for this picture,
BUT I did leave a nice spot for them in front of the caster sugar.
Imagine a small green pot and 3 eggs and
you're there, who needs photoshop?

You need:
225g of chopped plain chocolate
75g of unsalted butter
3 eggs (separated)
250ml of whipping cream
3 tbsp of caster sugar

...and anything you fancy sticking on the top. I opted for chocolate stars to represent all my brothers A* amazingness, and some chocolate sprinkles.

A whisk is also a must.
Melt the chocolate on top of a saucepan of boiling water, stirring now and again to keep everything nice and smoooothe.

Then take the mixture off the heat and stir in the egg yolks and butter.

To separate the egg yolks from the whites, I cracked the eggs over a different bowl, and tipped the yolk from shell to shell, letting the whites fall in to the bowl below, and then dropped the yolks into a mug. I gave the yolks a quick mix, before pouring them into the chocolate.

Now return the mixture to the heat, and keep on string it until it begins to thicken.

In a separate bowl you need to whip the whipping cream. It helps if the cream is cold, so leave it in the fridge up to this point. You can also put the bowl and whisk in the fridge for 10 mins or so before to keep everything chill.

If your using an electric whisk, then make sure you start on low power, and gradually build it up. Otherwise everything happens a bit too quickly, and the cream goes into panic mode.

Whip the cream until its firm and starts to look more like a solid. It will start to bubble, and them a few mins later it smooths out. If you start to see crumbly cream, STOP! If you keep going you'll get a half buttery mess.

Now whisk up the the egg whites, again in a separate bowl. Keep going until the whites look nice n' stiff. If you lift the whisk up, the whites should keep their shape, and make little points. Like this:

Now add sugar to the egg whites, and whisk them again until the mixture looks nice and glossy.

Now fold the cream, and then the egg whites, into the mixture. I'd be lying if I said I knew why, but it's important to keep to this order. I assume its some complicated baking witchcraft, but please let me know if you do!

The recipe said to chill the icing mix for 20 mins, however I found mine took a bit longer, so leave yourself a bit more time to get everything finished. The icing should start to harden up a bit.

When everything nice and cool, you can sandwich the cake layers together using the icing. Then cover the cake top and sides.

Now its up to you! You can leave it as it is, or go crazy with decorations. At this point I got very sprinkle and star happy.

Theeenn, you're finished. It's time to tuck in and enjoy! :)

Many thanks to the self appointed Sous Chef. He didn't move from this spot and kept his eyes fixed firmly on the kitchen counter. He was also a great help when it came to clearing up a little flour spillage.

If you have any questions or tips, feel free to leave a comment. I'm by no means an expect and advice is always welcome :) I'd also love to see how you get on if you give this bake a go.


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