There is nothing like making a rich dark chocolate cake to celebrate a birthday brighten a cup of tea and sooth your soul in the process.
I made this darkly luscious one with layers of chocolate sponge and vanilla sponge cake, interspersed with chocolate fudge icing and cherry jam – subverting the idea of Black Forest Gateau – but not so sweet.
Making cakes is so rewarding, and although the produc is transitory, the effect goes on.
I suppose its like making anything, you don’t get the full effect of the experience until you slap on the last decoration. Meanwhile there is triumph when the cake cooks perfectly (or desperation and a quick revision of your plans when it doesn’t), then a moment of calm when the bare, undecorated cakes sit cooling.
Trawling my cake decorating books for icing recipes takes a pleasant ten minutes with a cup to tea. Then I realise I haven’t got the correct ingredients debate whether to dash to the shops, or whether more improvisation will make this unnecessary. Cutting into the soft, but slightly resistant sponge to make the layers can be nerve wracking, one is always uneven, and of course I always eat the crumbs as they fall off – (but of course there are no calories in food eaten when standing up). Sorting through my collection of cake plates and stands for the right one for the cake design that is forming in my head is fun, but I am ultimately a sucker for this white glazed cake stand. Its an old M&S one, and I find most cakes look far more glamorous than they are when presented on this.
Spreading the icing in between the layers with a wide palette knife is soothing, but coating the cake in runny ganache is hectic, then there is the delicate manouevre of choosing the right moment to add the decorations – just before the ganache sets so that they stick, but not when its too runny or they slide elegantly down the sides instead of staying put on the top!
Finally I really love piping rosettes/stars (whatever they are called), with the star nozzle and a satifyingly plump, squidgy and sticky bag full of icing. Yes its childish, but they looks so pretty… I’m never sure when enough is enough, so have to discipline myself or the whole cake would be hidden under rosettes and stars. Not forgetting the chocolate buttons which have, as the children got older, replaced the Smarties.
So there you are – a cake fit for a sixteen year old!

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