Wednesday, June 20, 2012
I guess by now some of you are beginning to conclude that I've either disappeared into thin air or have somehow forgotten about this little place where I was lyrical to you about making grub. Not to worry, all that has happened is that we went away for a bit of happy times Down Under, to freeze our bottoms off in the glory of Aussie winter, a nice change from these hotter than ever days in Singapore. Those on my Twitter and Instagram feeds would be assured that we have been eating our way in and out of Melbourne, I apologize (even if just half-heartedly) for the barrage of vacation post.
For you, right now, I have cake. Yes, another one, I know, but in my defence, May were full of birthday babies in my life - I didn't have enough time to bake them all their deserved celebration ensembles, having to pack and go away towards the end of the month. For Sherie though, I made time. I haven't experienced the joy of receiving a homemade birthday cake myself but Mrs Ergül and I decided Sherie should be blessed with something special. All three of us, being bakers, knows exactly how sad it is to always be the person baking someone else's birthday cake, but not receive one on our own birthdays. So we schemed behind the scenes, planning an epic cake, with Sherie only slightly worried she was going to get something with ginger in it.
The cake, however, expanded into another one of our full on dinner party. There was fish stew, bread rolls and a beautiful spring salad. We started the night before, baking the cake layers in Mrs Ergül's kitchen while Mr Ergül lamented about having to eat shop bought nasi lemak for dinner. The next day we were at it again, with me preparing the frosting and dressing up the cake, while Pei Lin made the ganache and baked bread. It was such a pleasure cooking in her tip-top kitchen, or so I hope - at one point Pei Lin replied me with a "Yes boss!" and got me slightly worried. With both of us moving seamlessly to clean fishes, chop vegetables and sneaking in a few photographs while it rained outside, dinner was ready ahead of time.
With Sherie's name written all over this cake, we didn't have to sweat much about her reception towards it. The cheeky girl managed to spy the gigantic assembly while we retrieved things from the fridge just before dinner. Though the surprise was slightly ruined, it wasn't all lost. Dark chocolate, refreshing and slightly tangy raspberry buttercream, chocolate ganache - the birthday girl almost lost it. The only thing stopping her from eating more was her winter clothing, as she also went Down Under just before us. As for me, I regretted going home with just one piece of it, though it was all the better for fitting into my own winter clothes.
I foresee more cakes to come along the next two quarters but I promise to space them out so as not to drive anyone crazy with the all the sweet things. Post-vacation stories hopefully will follow, meanwhile you should make this cake, for birthdays or not!
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Buttercream Cake with Ganache Drizzle
Yield: a 3-layer 8-inch round cake
Cake and ganache recipe from Rosie Alyea's Sweetapolita, Swiss meringue buttercream recipe adapted from here.
Chocolate cake: The cake is ridiculously easy to make, we've modified the method to mix by hand because Mrs Ergül's KitchenAid was not calibrated accurately at the lowest speed. Just remember to tap the pan on the counter a few times before baking to get rid of air bubbles. This cake is sturdy enough to be used under fondant, stacked, etc. but also moist and tasty enough too go on its own with almost any type of frosting, glaze, etc.
Swiss meringue buttercream: We used frozen raspberries in the frosting, I'll save you the trouble and advise against this as the extra moisture eventually caused the frosting to bleed (just slightly). Ensure the raspberries are as dry as possible if you wish to include them. This recipe makes just enough frosting for about a 1/4 inch in each layer and the coating. If you prefer a higher frosting to cake ratio, double the Swiss meringue buttercream recipe.
Dark chocolate cake layers:
- 2 3/4 cups/11 ounces/312 grams all-purpose flour
- 2 2/3 cups sugar/1 pound 5 ounces/605 grams (we reduced it to 500 grams)
- 2 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup/4 ounces/113 grams Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 150 millilitres vegetable oil (we used sunflower)
- 280 millilitres buttermilk (we made ours with fresh whole milk plus 1 tablespoon white vinegar)
- 4 eggs
- 260 millilitres hot coffee
- 2 tablespoons of vanilla
Raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream:
- 300 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 5 large egg whites
- 220 grams granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup raspberry puree
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 pint of fresh washed and dried raspberries (optional)
- 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (we used Cacao Barry 58% coins)
- 1 cup heavy cream
Prepare the cake layers: Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Grease and line 3 8-inch cake tins, dust with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess. In large bowl, sift in all the dry ingredients. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well with a heavy hand whisk for about 2 minutes. Pour into prepared tins (batter will be quite liquid). Tap the tins on the counter a few times. Bake each layer for about 25 minutes, rotating once. Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes out barely clean. Refrain from overbaking. Cool completely on a wire rack in the pan.
Prepare the Swiss meringue buttercream: Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk frequently, keeping it over the heat, until the mixture reaches about 160°F/70°C (I have always just done this by touch) and the sugar has dissolved (rub some between your fingers - if it feels grainy, it hasn't dissolved). Transfer the mixture to a mixer with a whisk attached and beat on medium-high for 8 minutes, until stiff peaks have formed and the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Turn down the speed to medium and start adding small chunks of butter, checking that it has incorporated before adding more. Keep beating until it comes together, this will take about 5 minutes. With the mixer running, add in the vanilla extract and raspberry puree gradually, beating until well combined between each addition.
Prepare the ganache: Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring the cream just to a boil, watching very carefully. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Allow the ganache to cool slightly, meanwhile, proceed to frost the cake.
Assemble the cake: Just before frosting the cake, fold in the dried raspberries if using. Dollop a small bit of frosting onto your intended serving plate/cake board. Place one cake layer on and layer on about 1/2 cup of frosting. Repeat with the second layer of cake. Place the last layer of cake on top and coat the entire cake with a crumb coat. Refrigerate cake for 20-30 minutes (if you're in a hot and humid environment, refrigerate the frosting along as well). Once the crumb coat is set, remove cake and cover with the remaining buttercream. Return cake to the fridge and let it set, about 20-30 minutes. Remove cake and pour over about 1/2 cup of the prepared ganache. Start at the center of the cake and work outward. Drizzle the ganache over the top so it seeps down the sides. Be careful not to use too much, or you will lose your pink cake underneath. Chill to set. We decorate our cake with some cocoa nibs and fresh raspberries.
Do ahead: Cake layers can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cling wrap each layer 3 times and freeze till required. Swiss meringue buttercream can be made ahead, without adding the fresh raspberries (add this only when frosting the cake). Keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, rewhipping in mixer for 5 minutes. Freeze for up to 6-8 weeks. To thaw, place on counter overnight, and rewhip for 5 minutes with paddle attachment in an electric mixer.
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