For my glamorous mum’s 70th birthday, I had to make a cake as stunning as her. But it also had to be a cake that my brother and his family would like even with their very conservative food tastes, so no exotic flavour combos. It also had to be a cake that I could take on the train from London to Newcastle. Not an easy brief.
The recipe for this cake came from Lorraine Pascale, (http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/recipes/i-cant-believe-you-made-cake.html) who also saved my life with my brother’s Malteser cake. For my mum’s cake, I incorporated raspberries into the layers as well as creme fraiche to cut through the sweetness of the chocolate butter cream which held the chocolate cigarellos in place. I bought the cigarellos and striped chocolate triangles online at http://www.chocolatetradingco.com
To decorate the top, I made the meringue kisses with freeze dried raspberries and the pale pink balls were strawberry filled truffles from Marks and Spencer. I also added extra-long birthday candles and three star shaped sparklers which set off the smoke alarm when we lit them. The cake was a huge success; mum really loved it.
200g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
140g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
400g plain, milk or white chocolate cigarellos (about 75-80 in total) (I bought 2 boxes)
For the buttercream
250g butter, softened
500g icing sugar
100g good dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), melted and slightly cooled
For the layers
1 large tub (600g) of creme fraiche
750g frozen raspberries (use fresh if you like)
For the decoration (optional)
Fresh flowers, fresh raspberries, raspberry meringue kisses, chocolate strawberry filled truffles, painted chocolate triangles
· Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/ Gas Mark 4. Line the 20cm round deep cake tin with baking paper and brush or spray with oil.
· Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until they begin to go pale.
· Add half the eggs and half the flour and mix well. Add the rest of the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder and beat for a minute or two until the mixture is uniform.
· Dollop into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.
· Meanwhile, make the buttercream.
· Put the butter and icing sugar into a bowl and whisk together until the mixture begins to go fluffy. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and whisk for a further 2 minutes.
· Once the cake is completely cool, remove from the tin. Carefully cut the top flat with a large serrated knife, then turn the cake upside down on a 20cm cake board so that the bottom now becomes a nice flat top.
· Split the cake horizontally and sandwich the top and bottom together with a layer of creme fraiche. Then place the defrosted raspberries on top, don’t worry if they get smashed up. Spread half the buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake, making it as smooth as possible.
· Put it in the fridge to set before spreading a final layer with the remaining butter cream. This makes it easier to get a smooth, crumb-free finish.
· Gently push the cigarellos vertically onto the sides of the cake, positioning them as straight as possible and making sure they touch the bottom.
· Then decorate the as you like!