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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Toscakaka (Tosca Cake)

When I’m stressed, sad or just generally feeling a bit down, I bake a cake. I found it has some very deep therapeutic effects on me and it instantly calms me down. And by cake I do not mean one of those fancy and intricate layered-sponge-cum-mousse masterworks a proficient patissier would find hard to pull off, but, rather, a very simple and traditional cake which looks hearty and warming. That’s when I laid my eyes on this Scandinavian cake, which I found on the Poires au Chocolat blog. I have in fact merely followed Emma’s take on it (the original recipe is in the Scandilicious Baking recipe book by Signe Johanson), although I opted for golden caster sugar rather than simple caster and used beurre noisette instead of standard butter.

This is a caramel sponge cake topped with a very soft and moreish almond layer. The name sounds very weird to Italian ears as ‘cacca’ is the equivalent of ‘poo’, and I find it very hard to associate it with baking. However, as it turns out, ‘kaka‘ is Swedish for ‘cake’ – incidentally (and very interestingly), the word ‘cake’ comes from the Old Norse kaka (Merriam Webster). As for ‘Tosca‘ , opinions vary: some believe the cake was inspired by Puccini’s opera, while others believe it comes from the almond cakes made in Tuscany (Toscana in Italian). Nevertheless, the cake is based on a standard genoise-inspired sponge and the caramel-like topping seeps into the cake as it bakes, creating a thick layer at the top which is generously sodden in butter and sugar. The almonds on the top soften while baking, creating an enjoyably tender caramel layer on top (you won’t break your teeth on this one!).

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Ingredients (for the cake)

  • 75ml buttermilk
  • 75g beurre noisette (see below)
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Ingredients (for the almond topping)

  • 150g flaked almonds
  • 125g butter
  • 125g light brown sugar
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 tsp chocolate extract (my addition)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160C and line and butter a 23cm round cake tin, preferably with a removable bottom or springform.
  2. If you prefer, you can toast the almond flakes either in the oven for about 10 minutes or on the hob in dry a frying pan, then set aside.
  3. To make your beurre noisette, melt unsalted butter in a saucepan, then increase the heat to medium until the mixture starts foaming and bubbling up. Leave to bubble away until it turns a dark caramel colour, by which point it will be done. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, whip the eggs, sugar and vanilla together on high for 5 minutes, until the mixture is a pale and very thick. While it whisks, sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together.
  5. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture over the egg bowl, then gently fold in with a large spatula. Drizzle half of the buttermilk over the top and fold in. Repeat with the next 1/3 of flour, the rest of the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour. Finally drizzle half of the butter over the top, fold in, then repeat with the remaining butter. Be gentle but thorough, scraping the bottom and ensuring all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  6. Transfer to the tin, then tap on the counter once to remove any big air bubbles. Bake for 40 minutes, until golden and set (check for doneness with a skewer).
  7. Start making the topping 10-15 minutes before the cake is due to be ready. Mix all of the ingredients in a saucepan and stir as the butter melts. Keep on stirring over a medium heat. The mixture will bubble and slightly thicken. Remove from the heat.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and set over a wire rack. Pour the caramel and almond topping over the cake, then spread with a palette knife right until the edges. Increase the oven temperature to 200C, then put the cake back in for another 10 minutes, until the top is bubbling.
  9. Remove from the oven, leave to stand for 3 minutes, then use a palette knife or a round bladed knife to run alongside the edges of the tin and to release the cake and the topping. Remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool completely. Serve at room temperature.

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Midsummer Night’s Dream Cake

I made this cake yesterday evening by freely adapting a recipe found in the July issue of the BBC Good Food Magazine. Janine from Worcester had submitted her recipe for a Blueberry & pistachio cake with cardamon cream which looked really nice and seeing as I had all the necessary ingredients, I decided to give it a go. Her cardamom cream soon turned out to be a nightmare (too watery and not cardamomy enough anyway), so I opted for a much more secured cream cheese frosting enriched with pistachio. She also used ground pistachio in the sponge (posh!), but as I didn’t have them already ground and my food processor was in the dishwasher after having slaved the whole afternoon to make breadcrumbs, I went for ground almonds instead.

I hope you like it. I do. It’s a very visual cake and it somehow reminds me of autumn. Maybe because of the pistachio speckled blueberries on top, which look a bit like fallen leaves on the ground. The green on top set against the dark blueberry background also reminds me of the moss on the side of a tree… I was toying with the idea of calling this Fairy Cake, but then I decided to opt for a much more evocative name, possibly because the colours and the textures of this cake somehow remind me of this wonderful screen adaptation of the Shakespearean play.

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Ingredients (for the sponge)

  • 4 large eggs
  • 225 golden caster sugar
  • 175g butter, melted and cooled
  • 200g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 85g ground almonds, sifted
  • 50g blueberries

Ingredients (for the filling and the decoration)

  • 400g icing sugar
  • 100g butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 60g pistachios, finely chopped
  • 250g blueberries

Method

  1. Start by preparing 2 x 20cm sandwich cake tins. Line the bottom with baking parchment and butter the sides and the parchment, then pour 1 tsp caster sugar and 1 tsp flour in each and swirl them around to evenly coat the inside of the tins.
  2. Put the eggs and the sugar in a heatproof bowl, then use an electric whisk to briefly combine them. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and continue to whisk until the mixture is very pale, thick and has at least doubled in volume. To test when your mixture is ready, try and lift the whisks from the bowl. The mixture should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon-like trail. (You can do with a normal balloon whisk, but be prepared to whisk for ages)
  3. Remove the bowl from the surface and continue beating for about 2 minutes or until the bowl is cool to to the touch.
  4. Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 180C.
  5. Now take the melted and cooled butter and start trickling it around the edge of the bowl, whisking on full speed all along. Pause every once in a while to incorporate all of the butter. Once the butter has been fully incorporated, remove the whisks and use a metal spoon or a rubber spatula.
  6. Fold in the flour and ground almonds with very long and delicate movements, so as to knock out of the mixture as little air as possible. Last, also fold in the blueberries.
  7. Divide the mixture between the two prepared tins and bake for 30 minutes. Check the sponges are cooked by using a skewer.
  8. Once cooked, remove from the oven and set over a wire rack to cool, then unmould and leave to cool completely.
  9. While the sponges cool, move on to the icing. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, combine the softened butter and the icing sugar using the paddle attachment until you get a sandy-like consistency.
  10. Start adding the milk one tablespoon at the time and increase the speed until the mixture is fully blended and very creamy. Increase the speed again to very high and beat for about 2 minutes, until very fluffy and pale white. (Again, you can do this with a balloon whisk)
  11. Mix in half of the finely chopped pistachios, then start layering your cake.
  12. Arrange one of the sponges on a cake stand/board, then top with 2/3 of the icing, spreading it evenly. Arrange the other sponge on top, then spread the remaining icing on top of the cake. Cover the top with blueberries and use the leftover ones to create a pearl-necklace-like decoration around the cake by pushing then in the hole created between the two sponges. Dust with the rest of the chopped pistachios and serve.

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Mint Pan di Spagna Cake

Today I discovered a very interesting food blog written in a beautiful, artistic and very sophisticated Italian (and I do love a well-written piece, being a linguist myself). The blog is called Fragole a merenda (strawberries for breakfast) and that’s where I got the inspiration for this cake from.

As documented by other foodie websites I refer to, pan di Spagna was originally called Pâte Génoise, Genoise sponge. Does it ring a bell now? If you are interested in a bit of history, it all dates back to the 18th century, when Italian chef Giobatta Cabona prepared an incredibly light and soft cake during a trip to Spain with the Italian ambassador. The cake was a roaring success and it was named pan di Spagna (literally, bread/pastry of Spain) in honour of the Spanish court, who hosted the chef and the ambassador during their trip. If the original recipe asked for all the ingredients to be mixed over a pan of simmering water in order to make the eggs increase five-fold, the modern version only relies on a good whisk and plenty of air incorporated in the mixture.

There are two ways of preparing pan di Spagna. In the first one, the flour is added only at the end of the preparation and slowly and gently folded in so as to knock out as little air as possible. According to the second one, you should instead alternate flour and egg whites. This prevents the air in the egg whites to be knocked out right at the end when the flour is added. Also, by adding the flour a little at a time you ensure it is fully incorporated by the time all of the egg whites are added, which gives you a spongier and more delicate result. I used the second one, and you can check out the recipe I used on here (in Italian), although I used one less egg than indicated.

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Ingredients (for the pan di Spagna)

  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 160g plain flour, sifted
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp mint extract (optional)

Ingredients (for the topping)

  • 250ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp crème de menthe or other mint-flavoured liquour
  • 300g mixed berries (I used blackberries, blueberries and strawberries)

Method

  1. First of all, make sure you line, butter and flour a 23cm springform cake tin. I used a 26cm one here, but if you want your base to be thicker then reduce the diameter of the tin you are using. Pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
  2. Now, make the sponge. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar using an electric whisk until very pale, light and fluffy. This should take at least 5 minutes. If you are using it, you can add the mint extract.
  3. In another bowl (I used my KitchenAid), whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks.
  4. Sift your flour on a piece of baking parchment, then pour it into a bowl.
  5. Sift (yes, again) one fourth of the flour into the yolk and sugar mixture, then whisk that in with the electric beaters.
  6. Using a rubber spatula, fold about one third of the egg whites into the floury mixture using very ample, delicate and regular movements in order not to knock any air out of the mixture.
  7. Start alternating the flour to the egg whites. Always make sure you sift your flour into the mixture and that the previous egg white or flour batch has been completely incorporated before you add anything else. The last addition should be flour.
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin, level the top and bake for 45 minutes, by which time the top of the cake should be golden and the cake should have shrunk from the sides of the tin. Turn the oven off but do not remove the cake. Instead, leave it inside for another 5 minutes and only then remove it from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack. This prevents the fragile cake structure from collapsing when the temperature suddenly drops.
  9. To make the topping, whip the cream to soft peaks, then add the mint liquour and mix that in.
  10. Pour on top of the cooled sponge cake, then spread it around using a palette knife and decorate with the berries. If your cake is thicker than mine, you can even cut the cake into half and fill it with more cream and berries, much in the way you would do with a Victoria sponge cake.

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Chocolate, Macadamia & Coffee Torte

This is a weird cake as the sponge is made entirely from macadamia and contains no butter. The nuts are finely ground and then mixed to the other ingredients, and their natural oils provide the ‘fat’ base for the cake sponge. The final decoration really is up to you, I merely followed the recipe as in the GBBO book and experimented with feathering. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, this refers to a particular type of icing whereby a ganache is decorated with feather-like shapes, obtained by tracing horizontal lined with a darker ganache on the smooth base surface and then drawing the surface with a cocktail stick to leave a trail behind and bend the horizontal lines. The result is pretty much self-explanatory.

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Ingredients (for the sponge)

  • 200g macadamia nuts
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 200g white chocolate
  • 2 yolks
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk

Ingredients (for the filling)

  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar

Ingredients (for the ganache)

  • 170g white chocolate
  • 100ml double cream
  • 2 tsp brandy
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder

Method

  1. First of all, start with the sponge. Line and grease two 20cm sandwich tins and set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  2. Coarsely grind the macadamia nuts in a food processor until they start to clump together. Tip onto a plate lined with kitchen paper, spread out and leave to dry for about 5 minutes, then mix with the ground almonds.
  3. Melt the white chocolate over a pan of simmering water, then leave to cool.
  4. Put the 8 egg yolks (6 eggs + 2 extra yolks, remember!) into a large mixing bowl with the vanilla extract and whisk with an electric mixer (I swear by my KitchenAid) until the mixture is very thick and the whisk leaves a ribbon-like trail when lifted from the bowl. Use a big spatula to fold in the nuts, then fold in the white chocolate and milk.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff, then gently fold those in too in batches.
  6. Divide the mixture between the two tins, then bake for 35-40 minutes. Check the sponges are cooked using a skewer, then remove from the oven and leave to cool in their tins.
  7. Move on to the filling. In a mixing bowl, stir the brandy with the espresso powder until dissolved. Add the mascarpone and the icing sugar, then mix to combine. Chill until needed.
  8. Last step, the ganache. Put the white chocolate in a bowl, then heat the cream until almost boiling. Pour onto the chocolate in a thin stream, whisking constantly. When the mixture is smooth, stir in the brandy. Spoon a quarter of the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the espresso powder. Cover both bowls and leave to cool until needed.
  9. To assemble the torte, put a small blob of the filling on the serving plate/platter, then set one of the sponge layers on top. Use the rest of the filling to cover it, then top with the other sponge layer. Once the ganache has cooled down, spread over the top of the torte and let it drip down the sides. Spoon the coffee ganache into a piping bag and snip off the end, then pipe uniform horizontal lines on the now iced surface of the cake. Using a cocktail stick, draw vertical lined across the ones made with the ganache alternating upwards and downwards movements. Leave to set until needed.

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Orange Praline Meringue Cake

This is a stunning centerpiece for whichever occasion you might be willing to bake. The cake comprises of 2 génoise sponge layers alternated with 2 meringue discs and sealed with orange-flavoured and praline-dusted buttercream. The sides of the cake are then iced with more buttercream and are covered with coarser praline. It takes a while to make s there is quite a lot involved, but it isn’t as difficult as it might come across as and, once assembled, you will be glad to have spent that extra hour in the kitchen. The recipes comes from the GBBO book, but as it lacked a picture to go with the cake, I had to improvise a little bit on the decoration.

For those of you who don’t know, a génoise sponge is a whisked sponge which involves very little flour and is made by whisking the eggs in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, so that they start to cook and, at the same time, increase in volume at least threefold.

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Ingredients (for the sponge)

  • 150g plain flour
  • 15g cornflour
  • good pinch of salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 165g caster sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1 and a half oranges
  • 75g unsalted butter

Ingredients (for the meringues)

  • 100g ground almonds, sifted
  • 70g icing sugar, sifted
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 70g caster sugar

Ingredients (for the praline)

  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g whole (unblanched) almonds

Ingredients (for the butter icing)

  • 450g unsalted butter, very soft
  • 450g icing sugar, sifted
  • finely grated zest of 1 and a half oranges
  • 3 tbsp orange juice

Method

  1. First of all, let’s start with the sponge. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Sift the flour, cornflour and salt onto a sheet of baking parchment and set aside. In a pan, melt the butter, then transfer to a bowl to cool down and set aside. Grease and line a 23cm cake tin (I used a springform one) and set aside.
  2. In a heatproof bowl, break the eggs and whisk with an electric mixer until just frothy. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water (ensuring the bowl doesn’t touch the water) and whisk in the sugar and the orange zest. Keep on whisking on high speed until the mixture is very thick, pale and mousse-like and leaves a ribbon-like trail when the beaters are lifted from the bowl.
  3. Remove the bowl from the pan and whisk again for a good 5 minutes until the mixture has cooled down to room temperature.
  4. Add half of the flour mixture to the egg one and dribble over the surface half of the butter mixture. Using a spatula or a big metal spoon, slowly and carefully fold these in until you can’t see any flour streaks anymore. Repeat to add the rest of the flour mixture and butter, then gently and carefully fold those in too.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes. Check whether the sponge is cooked by testing it with a skewer inserted in the middle. Once baked, remove from the oven and loosen it from the sides using a spatula or round-bladed knife, then set over a wire rack to cool down. Leave in the tin for about 5 minutes, then unmould and leave to cool down on the wire rack.
  6. Now, let’s move on to the praline. Set a pan over a low heat and tumble in both the sugar and the almonds. Grease well a baking tray and set aside.
  7. Stir occasionally and allow plenty of time for the sugar to start dissolving. Once the sugar has more or less completely melted and has turned into a brownish caramel, turn up the heat and let it come to a bubble, mixing constantly.
  8. When you see the mixture turning a dark brown colour, tip it onto the oiled baking sheet and flatten it out, then leave to cool to room temperature. In the meantime, I made the meringue layers, but I will put the whole procedure here for your convenience.
  9. Once the praline slab has cooled down to room temperature and is very hard to the touch, remove from the tin and break into smallish shards with a knife or a kitchen hammer. Transfer to a food processor and blend until you get a coarse powder. Sieve the mixture into a bowl so as to separate the praline powder from the rest of the coarser mixture. The powder will be used in the buttercream, so set that aside. Keep the coarser praline to ice the sides of the cake.
  10. Next step, the meringue layers. Using the cake tin base, draw a circle on two pieces of baking parchment, then turn the paper over so that the drawing is visible through the parchment and use to line two baking sheets. Mix the sifted ground almonds and icing sugar in a bowl and set aside.
  11. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks will form. Slowly but steadily add the caster sugar and keep on whisking on high speed until stiff peaks form. Once the egg whites are fully whisked, use a large spatula to fold in the icing sugar and ground almonds mixture and ensure to mix that in with a gentle but steady movement, so as to knock out as little air as possible. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  12. Divide the meringue mixture between the two baking trays and try to fill the circles drawn on the baking parchment, smoothing the sides and the top to make it into a disc.
  13. Bake for 1 and a half hours until crisp on the outside and dry. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack until stone cold.
  14. Last, the butter icing. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until soft and fluffy, then slowly mix the sifted icing sugar in before increasing the speed and adding the orange juice and praline powder. Beat again until creamy and fluffy.
  15. Last step, assembling the cake.
  16. Slice the sponge layer in half horizontally. Trim the meringue discs (if needed) to be the same size as the sponge layers.
  17. Sit one of the meringues on the cake stand/serving plate you are using and glue it with a dollop of butter icing, then cover with a layer of butter icing. Lay one of the sponges on top and cover that with a layer of icing, then top with a meringue disc and the last sponge layer, sticking them together with the butter icing.
  18. Use the rest of the butter icing to cover the sides and make the cake smooth, but keep some of the icing aside as you will need it to pipe on the top of the cake. Grab the coarser praline and, using your hands, stick handfuls of it to the fresh buttercream, so as to cover the sides evenly.
  19. Transfer the rest of the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe a ring on top of the cake to cover any imperfections created when icing the sides, then use some to stick some of the praline in the middle and, if you want to, pipe a small star right in the middle of the top sponge layer and decorate with orange slices.

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Let them eat cake, Cake

This cake obviously gets the wow factor from its decoration, entirely made up of buttercream frosting and Maltesers. The recipe below is Lorraine Pascale’s, but I know Nigella has made a version of it too and I have also found a variation of it in the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. Lorraine goes as far as to say she used a ruler to place the Maltesers on the cake so that they would all be perfectly in line. I tried (without the ruler) and due to Maltesers being all of different shapes, the overall result is that of a cake covered in a mess of Maltesers – no lines, no geometrical shapes. Can I just say that it tastes equally as good? Also, a bit of a note here: this is not the easiest cake to slice once decorated as the Maltesers will just fly everywhere, so don’t be afraid to get messy!

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Ingredients (for the cake)

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 125g sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • vanilla extract

Ingredients (for the buttercream)

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 550g icing sugar
  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 4 x 135g packets Maltesers (brown or white)

Method

  1. First of all, grease and line two 20cm cake tins and preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together using a big spoon (or a freestanding mixer or a food processor, whatever suits you best), then add the eggs one by one and beat well after each addition.
  3. Mix the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder together, then add 1 tablespoon with the last egg. This way the mixture will not curdle and hold its shape.
  4. Slowly add the sour cream and the rest of the flour mixture, beating well until fully combined, light and fluffy.
  5. Divide evenly between the cake tins, then bake for approximately 25-30 minutes. Check the sponges are cooked  by inserting a skewer in the middle of each one. It should come out clean. They should also start shrinking from the sides.
  6. Take the cakes out of the oven and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack.
  7. Start making the buttercream. Finely chop the chocolate and melt it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Take off the heat and leave to cool.
  8. Tip the icing sugar into the mixer together with the butter and beat well until light and fluffy. Add the milk and then the chocolate. Keep on beating until very light and uniform in colour.
  9. To ice the cake, sit one of the sponges upside down of cake board or stand and then spread about a third of the buttercream on. Sandwich the other sponge on top and use the rest of the buttercream to ice the whole cake.
  10. Open the bags of Maltesers and have fun decorating the cake!