I have an important celebration coming up tomorrow and decided to bake cake with two tiers. The bottom layer is a very stable chocolate cake filled with cherries and covered in chocolate ganache. The cake mixture itself is adapted from the BBCs Ultimate Chocolate Cake recipe. It is a super moist and chocolatey cake but I have slightly reduced sugar and adapted it so German supermarket stocks.
For a 28cm cake: 400g good quality dark chocolate 400g butter 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules ( I used Douwe Egberts Pure Gold from the UK - my absolute favourite, also for drinking!) 250ml milk 340g plain flour 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate soda (Natron in German supermarkets) 400g caster sugar 50g good quality cocoa powder (the bitter one, not the sweet drinking stuff!) 6 eggs 150ml buttermilk sweet cherries in juice (in Germany we get them in glass jars) - 400g cherries and 250ml of the liquid required. 6 sheets of gelatine for the ganache: 450g dark chocolate 150-200g cream
I prepared the ganache the night before making the cake. You can make it on the same day but make sure it gets time to cool down completely:
Chop the chocolate into small chunks and heat the cream in a pot at medium heat. Stir until the cream starts to bubble up. Remove from the heat and wait until the bubbles stop appearing. Add the chocolate chunks, leave for 2 minutes and stir together to get a smooth and glossy ganache. Leave to cool and store in a microwavable container until use (at room temperature, fridge is also fine).
Preheat the oven to 160°C fan / 180°C conventional oven.
Chop the chocolate into chunks, cube the butter (keep the paper for greasing the tin) and dissolve the coffee granules in cold milk. Add all three to a pot and warm up at medium heat. Stir until dissolved completely and leave to cool. In the meantime sift flour, sugar, cocoa, and bicarbonate soda into a large mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk and start whisking. While whisking, add the eggs to the mixture (one at a time). When mixed well, add the liquid chocolate mixture to the batter. Line the bottom of a spring form with baking parchment, clip into the form and grease the sides with a butter paper. Pour the chocolate mix into the tin and place in the oven. Bake for about an hour. Check whether its done by inserting a toothpick – it should come out clear if its done.
Leave the cake to cool completely. Cut the cake into two slices. For that you can use a ruler and toothpicks for marking where to cut or a conventional cake cutter (this metal string, I don’t particularly like it but many people do). If the cake has risen unevenly cut of the top to make it look straight before cutting it in half.
Line the spring form bottom with baking parchment again. Place one half of the cake into the tin (with the browner/harder side down). If necessary, heat up the ganache again in the microwave. It should have a consistency of Nutella/peanut butter. Pipe around the edges of the form onto the cake to create a barrier for the filling to leak out later. Place the cherries into the middle. In the meantime, heat up the cherry liquid. Prepare gelatine according to packet instructing (for sheets usually soaking in cold water until wobbly). Add the gelatine to the cherry liquid and stir to dissolve. Leave to cold down until it starts to set. Check whether the chocolate ganache has set and pour the setting cherry sauce onto the cherries to create a smooth surface. Add the second half of the cake on top.
Cover the top of the cake with chocolate ganache while its still in the spring form. Leave to set. Remove the cake tin and coat the sides in ganache, too. Rinse your palate knife under hot water to get a really smooth finish on the sides or top of the cake. If you want more info on how to coat a cake check out this tutorial that I found very helpful.
Vanilla and Raspberry Cake
The upper tier of my celebration cake is a vanilla cake filled with panna cotta and raspberry. One of my favourite desserts to make is panna cotta topped with a raspberry sauce so I thought why not put this inside a cake. I love the sweetness and creaminess of the panna cotta and the tartness of the raspberry – I hope it also works in this cake.
For one 20cm cake: 250g butter 250g caster sugar 1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar for the German bakers ;) 4 eggs 250g plain flour 1 teaspoon of baking powder 75ml milk 2 teaspoons vanilla extract For the panna cotta: 300ml cream 3 vanilla pods about 50g caster sugar For the raspberry layer: 500g frozen raspberries 6 sheets of gelatine some caster sugar For the buttercream: 250g icing sugar 125g butter teaspoons vanilla extract
Prepare the two fillings first. If you have two 20cm cake dishes you can prepare them in parallel. Line the bottom of the cake tin with baking parchment and clip into the spring form. Heat the cream and raspberries in a pot over medium heat, each. Scrape the inner lining of the vanilla pod with a knife and transfer into the cream and add sugar to taste. Remove from the heat and add gelatine according to packet instructions. Leave to cool down to room temperature and pour into a baking tin. Leave to set in the fridge. Then the raspberries are hot, sift them and collect the puree in a bowl. Add sugar to taste and gelatine according to packet instructions. Leave to cool to room temperature and set in a baking tin. Store both fillings in the fridge until further use.
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan.
Cream butter and flour with a hand or stand mixer until smooth. Add one egg at a time while whisking. Sift in flour and baking powder and continue whisking. Finally, add milk and vanilla extract.
Line the base of a cake tin with baking parchment and grease the sides with a butter paper. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for about an hour (until toothpick comes out clear). Leave to cool completely.
Cut the cake into three layers with the help of a ruler and toothpicks (to mark to cut above). In case the cakes break (like mine did 😉 ) use the most stable one as the bottom. Place the panna cotta filling on top of the bottom, line with the second layer of sponge, raspberry jelly and the top sponge – I noticed that it can be difficult to line the outside of the cake with buttercream. Next time I would cut the jellies into slightly smaller circles and pipe some buttercream around it (inside a baking tin).
For the buttercream, whisk icing sugar and butter until creamy. Add some vanilla extract to taste. Crumb-coat the cake with buttercream on top and sides. Due to the jelly fillings the cake is very wobbly, coat it as well as you can and continue after a night in he fridge if it’s too difficult…
I coated both my cakes in white fondant and decorated using the Wilton letter cutters, silicon moulds for coloured and self-coloured fondant decorations and the remaining buttercream with some food colouring.