I’m so excited! It’s birthday season! Do you know what this means?!?!?! Birthday cake!
Birthday cakes are my favourite thing to make for a few reasons. Number one they’re much more exciting than ordinary cakes, and usually allowed to be much more extravagant and rich and decorative without it being weird. Number two there’s no worrying about making it and watching it sadly sit on the kitchen counter after day four, half-eaten, alone…unwanted after everyone in the family has decided there’s better cake worth eating. And number three everybody loves having a birthday cake made for them.
Yesterday was my friends birthday and I decided to attempt a layer cake for the first time! I had high aspirations for a towering coconut cake of multi-layered glory but my nerve failed me. It’s been a long week! Exams are coming up, my assignments all got handed in yesterday, and yeah. I was too scared to attempt it. Instead I decided to double my favourite trusty chocolate cake and sandwich it with raspberry jam, with a rich chocolate icing to cover it.
Making the cake layers I used two 20cm sandwich pans and just made the recipe twice. It’s so easy, it wasn’t really a hassle at all and would have been much fiddlier to double the recipe and try and do it all at once. (Plus what kind of person owns four 20cm sandwich pans…seriously). I read about one hundred tips on layering cakes and decided to bake the layers at a lower temperature for longer, to create flat layers. It worked really well! Although the cake is very heavy and fudgy, which isn’t a terrible thing. I made the icing and did the layering this morning and have my own handy tip to add. Do not make a layer cake hung over from the birthday celebrations. Lets just leave it at that.
Raspberry Chocolate Layer Cake:
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s classic chocolate cake (just so you know I love Nigella Lawson, she is amazing and so is her lazy lazy chocolate cake recipe).
400g (3 +1/8 cups) plain flour
400g (1 +3/4 cups) caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
80g (1 cup) cocoa powder
350g (12 ounces) soft butter
4 large eggs
4 tsp vanilla extract
300ml (1 + 1/4 cups) sour cream
Preheat oven to 160C. Grease and line two 20cm sandwich pans, unless you have four of course. In a large blender, (you may need to do this in two stages) blend all your cake ingredients together until smooth. Pour half the cake mixture into the two pans (so 1 quarter in each) and bake for fifteen minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Repeat with the rest of the mix.
For the icing:
1 jar raspberry or strawberry jam, around 250g
75g (3/4 cup) butter
175g (6.15 ounces) dark chocolate, broken into pieces
300g (3 cups) icing sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125ml (3/4 cups) sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water. Allow to cool slightly, then add the syrup and sour cream and stir until smooth. Blend the icing sugar if it is clumpy, then beat it into the chocolate to form a thick and silky icing.
Lay your first cake on a large, flat plate, with baking paper strips just beneath the edges to catch fallen icing. Warm your jam in the microwave until soft. Spoon a third onto the cake layer and spread evenly, leaving an inch from the edge free. Repeat with the next two layer and place on the top layer. With a large pallet knife or equivalent, gently smooth the slightly cooled chocolate icing over the cake in even, circular sweeps. Remove the baking paper and clean up any edges with a paper towel. Yum.