I was toying around with the idea of making a small layer cake for our 13th anniversary but until the last minute I had no clue what it would be.
A couple of days ago I read Joy of Baking’s post about a chocolate cake that she says it is her go-to chocolate cake whenever she has a dinner or a birthday party, so I thought I’d give it a go. And on the very day I decided to go for salted caramel and walnut fillings and a dark chocolate ganache frosting. The combination turned out great but I have to admit that it’s not a crowd-pleaser for it’s very rich and not too sweet.
(source: Joy of Baking)
Serves about 12 people
400 g sugar
245 g flour
75 g cocoa powder
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp bicarb
½ tsp salt
240 ml warm coffee
240 ml milk
120 ml vegetable oil
½ tsp vanilla paste
Preheat oven to 180°C and place oven rack in the centre of the oven. Butter three 20 cm loose bottomed round tins and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb and salt.
In a medium jug, whisk together the eggs, coffee, milk, oil, and vanilla paste. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. (The batter will be quite thin.) Evenly distribute the batter among the tins and bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from their tins, remove the parchment paper and cool completely on a greased wire rack before frosting.
SALTED CARAMEL FILLING
(slightly adapted from Nigella‘s)
75 g unsalted butter
50 g muscovado sugar
50 g caster sugar
50 g golden syrup
125 ml double cream
1 tsp fleur de sel
Melt butter, sugars and syrup in a saucepan and let simmer for 3 minutes, swirling every now and again.
Add cream and half a teaspoon of fleur de sel salt and swirl again. Give a stir with a wooden spoon and taste – go cautiously so that you don’t burn your tongue – to see if you want more salt and let it simmer for about 6 minutes or until you get the desired consistency – just remember that it will get thicker as it cools.
395 g sweetened condensed milk
200 g walnuts, minced
Combine both ingredients in a medium pan over low heat, stirring frequently. When it starts boiling, pay attention and stir like mad Remove from heat when it starts to leave a trail on the bottom of the pan.
DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE
250 g dark chocolate buttons / drops / chips
125 ml double cream
Heat cream in the microwave for about 1 minute and combine with chocolate buttons until it gets glossy and all buttons have melted. If needed, take it back to the microwave for 10-15 secs.
NOTES: I only have one 20 cm round tin, so I baked one cake tall enough to divide into two and, when I got it out from the tin, I baked the third layer. In the mean time I kept the batter in the fridge and it worked just fine. Just pay attention to baking times if you do it this way because the taller cake will take longer to bake.
It took me about 4½ hours to complete the task, including cooling time and making everything from scratch. It may look like a huge task but every step is so simple that you don’t even need an electric mixer!
To avoid cake from sliding, I put a blob of caramel on the centre of the cake stand. And to avoid having frosting and filling all over my cake stand, I used some strips of grease proof paper to line it around the cake.