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Prep 11/2hr (+ macaron prep)Bake 18-20min (per batch)Makes 10 serves
Created by Make Me a Baker student, Allen Au for his graduation, this cake is certainly a show stopper.
Before starting the program Allen had always found making sponge cakes challenging and had almost given up on ever making another again. But, he set himself the challenge of perfecting a sponge and creating a version of Black Forest cake that his wife had always wanted him to. The result was a modern cake bursting with flavour and showcasing Allen's newly-acquired baking skills!
The sponge cake in this recipe is a version of the one students learn to make during the Make Me a Baker program.
Chocolate Sponge Cake (2 layers)
Melted butter, to grease
4 eggs, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
30g salted butter
110g self-raising flour
30g cocoa powder
Chocolate Sponge Cake (1 layer)
Melted butter, to grease
2 eggs, at room temperature
75g caster sugar
15g salted butter
55g self-raising flour
15g cocoa powder
80g caster sugar
900ml thickened cream
200g cherry jam
1½ x 680g jars pitted Morello cherries, drained
Chocolate bark (see Baker's tips)
10 Maraschino cherries with stems, drained
2 Cadbury Cherry Ripe double-dipped chocolate bar, cut into 3-4 pieces
1½ Cadbury Flake bar, broken into fine pieces
3 cherry macarons (get Allen's Cherry Macaron recipe HERE)
Chocolate Sponge Cake Layers
- To make the Chocolate sponge cake layers, place the oven rack in the oven so that the cake tins will sit in the middle of the oven and then preheat to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Brush two 20cm shallow cake tins with melted butter to grease and line the base of each with a sheet of non-stick baking paper. You will need to reuse one of the cake tins to make the third sponge layer later.
- To make the first two layers of sponge, use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment on medium-high speed to whisk the 4 eggs in a large bowl until frothy. Add the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking well after each addition, until the mixture is very thick and pale (this will take about 8 minutes). Lift the whisk out of the mixture and draw a figure eight. If the trail stays on the surface long enough to finish drawing, then the mixture is ready. If not, continue to whisk for a further minute.
- Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until almost simmering. Remove from the heat and pour the warm milk mixture down the side of the mixing bowl. Quickly sift the flour and cocoa powder together over the egg mixture and then immediately whisk again with the electric mixer on low speed briefly until the flour mixture is just incorporated (be careful not to overmix). Scrape the base of the bowl and then whisk briefly again, if necessary.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins (see Baker’s tips) and gently tap the tins on the benchtop three times to settle the mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until the cakes spring back when lightly touched in the centre and start pulling away from the sides of the tins. Remove from the oven and immediately use a small palette knife to loosen the sides of the sponges from the tins and turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Repeat steps 1–4 using the ingredients to make one more layer of sponge.
- Combine the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat. Stir in the kirsch. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- When ready to assemble the cake, use a stand mixer or electric hand mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Place one of the sponge layers on a serving plate or cake stand. Use a pastry brush to generously brush the whole top surface with about one-third of the kirsch mixture. Spread half the jam over the top and then spread with enough whipped cream to create a layer about 1cm thick. Sprinkle with half the drained morello cherries. Repeat with the remaining sponge layers, kirsch syrup, morello cherries and cream layer, finishing with a sponge layer and kirsch syrup.
- Spread the remaining whipped cream over the sides and top of the cake to cover.
- To decorate, attach the chocolate bark to the outside of the cake. Decorate the cake with the Maraschino cherries, chocolate bars, and macarons.
- To divide the mixture evenly between the tins, weigh the tins with the mixture in them to make sure they are the same weight.
- To make chocolate bark, spread melted dark chocolate thinly over a piece of baking paper, making sure the width is similar to the height that your final cake will be. Place a second piece of baking paper over the chocolate to cover. Roll the two sheets of baking paper together into a thin cylinder. Secure with bulldog clips or pegs on both ends. Place in the fridge until set and ready to use. To use the chocolate bark, carefully remove the baking paper and break to desired widths.
Prep 2hr (+ cooling time)Bake 8-10minMakes 18 serves
Created by Make Me a Baker student, Karthika Biju for her graduation, this stunning cake brings together numerous techniques learnt throughout the 6-month course. A real challenge, this dessert is an exquisite combination of chocolate and coffee-infused layers of almond sponge, ganache, chocolate croustillant, hazelnut praline and Swiss meringue buttercream. Karthika finished each portion of cake with gold dust and leaf and also personalised them with a chocolate disc monogramed with her initials. Not for the faint-hearted baker, this recipe is nothing short of a challenge but the results will definitely reflect the effort.
IngredientsEdible gold leaf and dust, to decorate
Joconde (Almond Sponge)Melted butter, to grease
5 eggs, at room temperature
140g almond meal
140g soft icing sugar mixture
30g plain flour
5 egg whites
30g caster sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
30g unsalted butter, melted
Coffee Syrup160ml (2/3 cup) water
100g caster sugar
3 teaspoons instant coffee powder
Hazelnut Praline Paste125g whole raw hazelnuts
75g caster white sugar
2 teaspoons water
¼ teaspoon salt
Chocolate Croustillant40g good-quality dark chocolate (45% cocoa), chopped or callets
30g Hazelnut Praline Paste
70g Paillette Feuilletine (see Baker’s Tips)
Chocolate Ganache160g good-quality dark chocolate (45% cocoa), chopped or callets
160ml (2/3 cup) thickened cream
Swiss Meringue Coffee Buttercream4 egg whites, at room temperature
200g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Coffee extract, to taste
Chocolate Glaze6.6g gelatine leaves
250ml (1 cup) chilled water
125ml (1/2 cup) room temperature water
225g caster sugar
150g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa), callets or chopped
30g cocoa powder, sifted
65ml pure cream (35% butterfat)
Monogramed Chocolate Discs70g good-quality dark chocolate (45% cocoa), callets or chopped
Edible gold lustre paint (See Baker’s Tips)
Wax seal (kept in freezer for at least 45 minutes)
Joconde (Almond Sponge Cake)
- To make the Joconde, preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced). Brush two 23cm x 33cm shallow baking trays with melted butter and line the base and sides of each with one piece of non-stick baking paper, cutting into the corners to fit.
- Sift the almond meal and icing sugar into a large bowl. Add the whole 5 eggs and use an electric hand mixer to mix until the mixture is creamy. Stir in the flour until just combined.
- Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment on medium speed to whisk the egg whites and salt in a large clean bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the sugar and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form. Use a spatula or large metal spoon to fold the egg whites through the almond mixture. Add the melted butter and fold gently together.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared tins. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden and cooked through. Cool in the tins.
- Carefully turn the cooled cakes onto a cutting board and cut each into one 20cm square and one 10cm x 20cm rectangle.
- To make the Coffee Syrup, place the water, sugar and coffee into a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil then remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
- Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat. Leave it to heat until the sugar has melted. Do not stir. Continue cooking until it has turned a golden caramel.
- Meanwhile, fill your sink with cold water. Once the caramel is ready, dip the base of the saucepan in the cold water for a few seconds to stop the cooking process. Set the pan on a towel on the bench.
Hazelnut Praline Paste
- To Make the Hazelnut Praline Paste, reduce the oven temperature to 180°C (160°C fan-forced) and roast the hazelnuts for 10-15 minutes, stirring them every 5 minutes, or until aromatic and the skins start to crackle.
- Wrap the warm hazelnuts in a tea towel and set aside to steam for 10 minutes. Use the tea towel to rub to hazelnuts against it and each other to remove the skins.
- Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper or a silicone mat. Place the sugar and water in a small heavy-based saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer and simmer over medium heat, brushing down the sides of the saucepan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan, until a deep golden toffee forms. Remove from the heat add the toasted skinned hazelnuts but don’t stir. Pour immediately onto the lined tray and set aside to cool completely.
- When the toffee is cool, break into small pieces. Add about a quarter of the toffee shards to a food processor bowl and process until ground. With the motor running, add the remining toffee shards and process until ground. Add the salt and continue to process until a smooth paste with a peanut butter consistency forms (see Baker’s Tips).
Chocolate Hazelnut Croustillant
- To make the Chocolate Croustillant, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of barely simmering water (don’t let the base of the bowl touch the water). Stir occasionally until melted and smooth.
- Add Pailleté Feuilletine and Hazelnut Praline Paste to the melted chocolate and stir to combine. Spread the croustillant over the 20cm square layer of sponge cake on the board. Place in the fridge to set
- To make the Chocolate Ganache, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring just to the boil.
- Pour the cream over the chocolate and set aside for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it thickens to a peanut butter consistency (see Baker’s Tips).
- To make the Coffee Buttercream, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the base of the bowl touch the water). Use a balloon whisk to stir until the sugar dissolves. Continue to stir until the mixture reaches 70°C on a thermometer.
- Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high speed with the whisk attachment until the mixture is very thick and glossy and has cooled completely to room temperature.
- Replace the whisk with the paddle attachment and gradually add the room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time, beating well on medium-high speed after each addition, before adding the next lot. Once all the butter has been incorporated, beat in the coffee extract.
- Remove the croustillant-coated sponge cake layer from the fridge and carefully flip it onto a on a another cutting board with chocolate croustillant facing down. Brush the sponge with about a third of the coffee syrup and then spread with half of the coffee buttercream. Place the two 10cm x 20cm sponge layers side by side on top to cover and brush with half of the remaining coffee syrup.
- Reserve about 1/4 cup of the ganache and spread the sponge evenly with the remaining chocolate ganache. Top with the remaining layer of sponge cake and brush well with the remining coffee syrup. Spread with the remaining buttercream to cover and even the surface using an offset spatula or cake scraper. Cover and refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Monogramed Chocolate Discs
- Line a tray with non-stick baking paper. Remove the wax seal from the freezer and place in a bowl of ice.
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 10 seconds bursts on high, stirring well after each burst until the chocolate is completely melted. Spoon the chocolate into a zip-lock bag and cut a small hole in one corner. Working quickly, pipe the chocolate onto the lined try to form three discs, each about the size of a dollar coin. Immediately use the chilled wax seal to imprint the chocolate discs, holding on each for 5 seconds. Place the seal back in the ice (see Baker’s Tips) and repeat with the remaining chocolate making and imprinting three discs at a time. Set aside at room temperature to set and firm.
- Once set use a small paintbrush to paint each disc with edible lustre gold paint to coat.
- When ready to glaze the cake, carefully transfer the cake to a rack over a tray lined with baking paper. Return to the fridge.
- To make the Chocolate Glaze. Place the gelatine sheets in a bowl and add 250ml (1 cup) of the chilled water to cover. Set aside.
- Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Combine the remaining 125ml (1/2 cup) water in a small saucepan with the sugar. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil gently, brushing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to dissolve any sugar crystals, until the syrup reaches 104°C on a thermometer.
- Remove the syrup from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Sift the cocoa powder over the chocolate mixture and use a balloon whisk to stir until combined and smooth. Add the cream and stir until the mixture cools to 60°C on a thermometer.
- Use your hands to squeeze as much water as possible from the gelatine sheets and add to the warm chocolate mixture. Stir until dissolved.
- Transfer the mixture to a jug anduse a stick blender to blend until the mixture is emulsified and smooth. Strain the glaze through a fine mesh sieve.
- Once the glaze cools to 32°C on a thermometer pour it immediately over the chilled cake to create a smooth surface, allowing any excess to drip down the sides. Refrigerate for about 1 hour or until the glaze is set.
- Use a hot, dry knife trim the edges of the cake and then cut into 18 pieces (each about 7cm x 3cm). Transfer to a serving plate. Soften the reserved Chocolate Ganache by heating in 10 second bursts on high and stirring between each burst until smooth. Cool until almost a piping consistency. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle. Pipe a rosette of ganache at the end of each cake portion and rest a Monogramed Chocolate Disc against the rosette to hold it. Decorate with gold leave and dust as desired.
- Paillette Feuilletine is fine broken shards of Crêpes Dentelle (a crisp biscuit made from rolled crêpes)and is used to add texture to confections and desserts. It is available from specialty food stores and French delicatessens.
- Edible lustre gold paint is available from specialty cake decorating shops and suppliers and some craft stores.
- The Hazelnut Praline Paste will be coarse crumbs in the beginning, but it will eventually get smooth with processing. Don’t add water to thin the mixture but a little vegetable oil can be added to reach the right consistency is needed.
- The longer the Chocolate ganache stands at room temperature the thicker it will become. It is ready to use when it becomes a peanut butter-like consistency. If left for too long, it will become too thick to spread.
- The wax seal must be left in the ice between imprinting the discs for it to work effectively and not stick to the chocolate.
Karthika based this recipe on one from https://www.homecookingadventure.com.
Prep 1hr (+ 45min cooling and 1-1.5hr chilling time)Bake 20minMakes 12-14 serves
If you're a chocoholic this cake is heaven. And if you're not, it's still heaven! Wickedly rich and strikingly handsome, this layered centrepiece demands attention no matter what the celebration.
melted butter, to grease
250g butter, cubed, softened
330g (1½ cups) caster sugar
3 teaspoons natural vanilla essence or extract
225g (1½ cups) plain flour
225g (1½ cups) self-raising flour
250ml (1 cup) milk
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water, cooled
Dark chocolate layer
30g (¼ cup) Dutch cocoa powder, sifted and combined with 60ml (¼ cup) hot tap water, cooled
Milk chocolate layer
1½ tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder, sifted and combined with 1½ tablespoons hot tap water, cooled
Light chocolate layer
2 teaspoons Dutch cocoa powder, sifted and combined with 2 teaspoons hot tap water, cooled
Whipped chocolate ganache
500g good-quality dark chocolate (45-54% cocoa), chopped
300ml pure (pouring / thin) cream
Chocolate drip icing
100g good-quality dark chocolate (45-54% cocoa), chopped
100ml pure (think / pouring) cream
2 tablespoons corn syrup
- To make the cake layers, preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan-forced). Grease four shallow 20cm round cake tins with melted butter and line the bases with non-stick baking paper.
- Prepare the dark, milk and light chocolate layer mixtures and set aside.
- Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition (the mixture will look curdled at this stage).
- Sift together both the flours. Combine the milk and coffee mixture. Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on lowest possible speed until just combined. Add the milk and coffee mixture and beat on lowest possible speed until just combined and then beat in the remaining flour mixture until just combined.
- Divide the cake batter between four bowls (each will have about 360 g of mixture). Add the Dark chocolate layer mixture to one portion and stir gently to combine. Add the Milk chocolate layer mixture to one portion and stir gently to combine. Add the Light chocolate layer mixture to one portion and stir gently to combine. Leave the fourth portion as it is
- Spoon each of the batters into a prepared tin and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Swap the cake tins around and bake for a further 5 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean.
- Stand the cakes in the tins for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool (this will take about 30 minutes).
- To make the whipped chocolate ganache, put the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Stir often with a metal spoon just until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Immediately remove the bowl from the saucepan, cover with plastic wrap and place the fridge for 1-1½ hours, stirring briefly about every 5 minutes, or until cooled and thickened to a spreadable consistency. Use an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment to whisk the chocolate mixture in a medium bowl on low speed for 1-2 minutes or until light and fluffy (be careful not to over whisk).
- To assemble the cake, set aside about a quarter of the Whipped chocolate ganache in a bowl for piping. Place the Dark chocolate cake layer, top side down on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread evenly with about ⅓ cup of the remaining Whipped chocolate ganache. Repeat with the remaining cake layers (from darkest to lightest) with about ⅓ cup of the ganache between each. Spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake, using a large palette knife to smooth. Place the cake in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.
- To make the chocolate drip glaze, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Combine the cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until almost simmering. Pour over the chocolate and set aside for 1 minutes. Stir until smooth and well combined. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almost cooled to room temperature.
- Spoon the chocolate drip glaze onto the center of the chilled cake and use the back of a metal tablespoon to spread to cover. Gently push some of the glaze over the edge all the way around to form a drip pattern. Se aside in a cool spot for about 15 minutes or until the glaze is set before cutting.
- This cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool spot for up to 3 days.
How to decorate a cake with a drip glaze
There are a few things to keep in mind when creating a luscious glossy drip glaze on a cake.
Make sure the iced cake has been chilled for at least 30 minutes before decorating with the glaze as this will help the drips down the side of the cake set before reaching the base of the cake.
Gradually spoon the slightly warm (it should be slightly warmer than room temperature) glaze onto the centre of the cake, allowing it to flow naturally towards the edge.
Then use the back of a metal tablespoon to carefully ‘push’ the glaze towards the outside, smoothing the top and allowing small amounts of the glaze to flow over the edge and down the side of the cake to form a drip pattern.
The key is to take it slowly, not add too much glaze at one time and don’t push too firmly with the spoon as the drips will become large and cover more of the side of the cake than you want.
Photography by Alan Benson.