Chocolate Orange Mousse Cake

I remember watching the Great British Bake Off episode where one of the contestants (Mary Anne, if I’m not mistaken) created this beautifully complicated cake and left the judges amazed at such precision and skill. Back then, I thought I didn’t stand a chance. But then I gave it a try. And it might not look exactly like the one she made, but believe me it was a blast and it went down a treat with my work colleagues.

It’s not an easy cake and it takes long to make, mostly because of all the stages involved and the chilling times needed for the cake to set. The original recipe required me to decorate the top with a jelly-like concoction made with orange juice and arrowroot but, as I didn’t want to have to buy another ingredient for a one-off cake, I decided to leave it plain. The mousse has a strong orange flavour anyway, the jelly top can easily be left out.

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Ingredients (for the paste)

  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g icing sugar, sifted
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 110g plain flour, sifted
  • orange food colouring (I used red + yellow)

Ingredients (for the sponge)

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 4 large eggs
  • 15g caster sugar
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • 25g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 55g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Ingredients (for the mousse)

  • 175g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken up, melted and cooled
  • grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed orange
  • 1 tsp powdered gelatine
  • 2 large eggs
  • 300ml double cream, whipped

Ingredients (for the decoration)

  • 200ml double cream, whipped
  • zest of an orange
  • grated chocolate

Method

  1. First of all, make the paste. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter with the icing sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually whisk in the egg whites and continue whisking for 2 minutes. Sift the flour into the bowl and fold in. Add a little food colouring to tint the paste a light orange. Transfer to a piping bag with a plain nozzle.
  2. Line 2 rectangular baking trays (approximately 31.5 x 25.5cm), then pipe the orange paste in swirls over them, creating an artistic and curly design. Transfer to the freezer and chill until rock solid.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200C and now make the sponge mixture.
  4. Put the egg whites into the mixer bowl and whisk until they form soft peaks. Add the caster sugar and continue to whisk until the meringue holds stiff peaks.
  5. In another large bowl with the mixer on medium speed, whisk together the almonds, icing sugar and whole eggs for about 3 minutes or until very light, thick and increased in volume. Sift the flour and cocoa on top of the mixture and gently fold in with a rubber spatula. Fold the meringue in three batches.
  6. Take the trays out of the freezer, then use a palette knife to spread the mixture over the paste and cover all of the gaps. Ensure the mixture is spread evenly, even in the corners. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until the sponge has risen and springs back when pressed. Remove from the oven and set over a wire rack to cool.
  7. Take a 20cm springform tin and measure its height – that will be the thickness of your sponge strips. Transfer the cooled sponges to a towel, then cut long strips from the longer side using a very sharp knife. Place the sponge strips inside the tin to line the sides, patterned side against the tin. You should only need 2 strips to line the whole tin, but if you need more, make sure the ends of each are tightly pressed against the ends of the other.
  8. Cut a circle from one of the sponge sheets to fit the inside of the tin and place that on the bottom (patterned side against the tin, again). This will be your top. Reserve the remainder of the sponge sheets.
  9. Now move on to the mousse. Strain the orange juice through a fine mesh sieve into a small heatproof bowl, then sprinkle the gelatine and leave to rest for about 3 minutes. Warm over a pan of boiling water until the gelatine has completely dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
  10. Mix the orange zest and egg yolks into the melted chocolate, then gradually stir in the gelatine mixture followed by the whipped cream. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and fold those in as well. Very important! Ensure all of these ingredients are at the same temperature.
  11. Pour the mousse into the cake-lined tin. Cut another circle of sponge (or use pieces of it) to close the top of the cake. Chill in the fridge for at least 5 hours, best if overnight.
  12. Once ready to decorate, transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag equipped with a star nozzle, then pipe small stars around the outer top edge of the cake and decorate with the orange zest and grated chocolate.

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