Friday, September 2, 2011

Peace and Cake

The house I find quiet this morning for the first time in two months.  The church bells announce that is is 10am and I am sitting here in the relative peace, although there is a house alarm in the distance which is rather irritating and something you do not find in Berlin ever - this taking first place on my 'why Germany is a more civilised country than Ireland' list.

Anyway my peace will not be disturbed, neither will my coffee and cake.

Speaking of cake, WheelerandCompany have been busy in the cake department recently.

I was asked to make a 50th birthday cake for our good friends on Francis Street - chocolate was the order of the day.

Now cake is all well and good and not so difficult to mess up but when it comes to cake, its the frosting and middle which matters to me.  Although I make them for my children's birthdays, I have a strong dislike for the cartoon-like sugar paste creations which seem to be all the fashion now.  These to me seem to be all image and no substance, with the overly sweet icing overshadowing an often dry heavy cake.
So in search for the perfect coating I turned to a lovely book called  Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented is an absolute joy.  Anyway if you leave a comment on my blog you too just might get a visit from the Fairy could be your lucky day!

Anyway after a practice cake and several toppings, I made this tall, elegant chocolate cake with coffee butter-cream icing, covered again with a Valrhona chocolate ganache covered with Valrhona chocolate covered almonds.....delicious.

 the sample cake

the finished cake
triple layer chocolate sponge 
with coffee butter-cream and chocolate ganache topping

Coffee Butter-cream Icing
(adapted from Baked Explorations)
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 25g plain flour, sieved
  • 180ml whole fat milk
  • 40g double (heavy) cream
  • 150g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3 tblsps espresso strength coffee
  • Put the flour, sugar, milk and cream into a heavy bottomed saucepan.
  • Heat on a medium heat, whisking intermittently until it comes to the boil and thickens. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
  • Transfer the mixture into your stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium until the mixture is completely cold.
  • On low, add the cubes of butter and continue mixing until the butter is completely incorporated.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy - this should only take a few minutes.
  • Add the coffee and mix until combined.

The mixture should now be soft enough to spread over a sponge, however if you think it is too soft, place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes until it has stiffened a little.  Beat again and the begin your cake decoration.
When you are icing a sponge, it is good practice to add a crumb-coat first.  This is a light layer of icing to glue down all those little loose bits of cake crumb prior to the final coating.  

If you are constructing a multi-layered cake, trim any domes or bumps off the sponges and place one flat on the serving platter.  Fill the middle with butter-cream and place on the next sponge and repeat of you going taller.  Add a thin layer of butter-cream over the top and sides.  Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to harden the crumb coat.
Then add the final layer of butter-cream to the top and sides and decorate until your heart is content.

The Francis Street birthday party was amazing, suckling pig cooked on spit in the garden, home-grown pink fir apple potato salad, beetroot salad, green beans - a wonderful celebratory feast.


  1. Can I just say that this cake was a triumph, absolute perfection. It brought a wow to everyone's lips and that was even before they tasted it. What a way to finish what was a very special day!

  2. Are you able to do Friday morning?! I'd love to meet you! Do send me an email! *s*