Every now and again I come across a cake book that I just can’t get enough of. You know the kind that every new recipe turns out well (and almost looks like the picture!) and it tastes amazing and becomes your new favourite. Well that is doubly so for Mich Turner’s Cake Masterclass, the ultimate guide to cake decorating perfection, by Jacqui Small. It’s packed full of clever techniques on how to cover a cake with sugarpaste, how to make decorations, including really easy roses, as well as delicious cake recipes. From the first time I made the chocolate Cherry cake it has been a firm favourite. It may be the fact that it has port soaked cherries, which at first I thought was an odd choice having always soaked cherries in brandy, that is till I tasted it.
Last week I made my biggest wedding cake yet. It was a four-tier cake with lots of decorative flowers all over it for my lovely sister in law Melissa. The base cake was a 12” moist carrot cake from the book as was the next tier, the chocolate cherry, the third tier was a chocolate torte cake and then lastly the top tier was another Mich favorite - fruit cake, all of which are in this book. The whole cake looked really pretty but it was the chocolate cherry layer that got the most compliments. The cake tastes even better after a day or two… if you can leave it alone that long!
Chocolate and Cherry Cake
For the cake:
250g (9oz) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
200g (7oz) plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
350g (12oz) light brown sugar
5 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g (31/2oz) whole French glacé cherries, soaked overnight in 5 tbsp vintage port
140g (5oz) plain flour
For the topping:
1/2 quantity chocolate ganache buttercream, at room temperature
1 quantity chocolate ganache
225g (8oz) fresh cherries
bake: fan 140°C (275°F)
conventional 160°C (325°F) gas mark 3
1 Preheat the oven. Grease and line a deep 20cm (8in) round cake tin with non-stick baking paper or use a non-stick cake tin. Ensure all the ingredients are at room temperature.
2 Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of just-boiled water or in a microwave and leave to cool.
3 Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are all incorporated. Pour in the melted chocolate, beating all the time, then stir in the vanilla extract. Finally, add the cherries with any remaining port. Sift the flour into the mixture and fold in gently.
4 Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 55–60 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out on to a wire rack.
5 Cover the top and sides with a thin coat of buttercream and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes then cover the cake in ganache. Use a palette knife to make waves on the top and to smooth the sides.
6 Leave the ganache to set for 10 minutes, before using a small knife to lever the cake from the rack and trim the base edge. Meanwhile, gather up the remaining ganache from under the wire rack and put it in a bowl. Once it has cooled a little and thickened, spoon it into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle, ready to pipe.
7 Place the cake on a decorative stand. Pipe scrolls around the top edge of the cake in an alternating pattern, as shown, pulling each scroll to a tail before starting the next.
8 For the shells around the base, pipe a uniform trail with the ganache. Dress the cake with the fresh cherries.
For the Chocolate Ganache
125ml double cream
250g Unsalted butter, diced
500g plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids) broken into pieces
1 Heat the double cream in a heavy saucepan until it begins to boil, then remove from the heat. Put the butter and chocolate in a bowl and place over pan of simmering water to warm gently until just beginning to melt. Pour the cream over the chocolate and butter and stir gently to combine.
2 Beat the ganache with a wooden spoon until well combined, rich and glossy. Use straight away for pouring or allow to thicken for piping. Alternatively store in an airtight container in a refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze for 3 months.
3 To pipe, spoon the cooled ganache into a piping bag fitted with the appropriate icing nozzle. Note that if the ganache sets too firm in the piping bag you will have to remove it, reheat it before filling a fresh bag.
TIP If the ganache firms up and becomes too stiff to pipe, remove and gently reheat and allow to cool again until it reaches the desired consistency.
*TO STORE Store this cake at room temperature and eat within 2 days. Alternatively, wrap the cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper and aluminium foil and place in the freezer for up to 1 month.
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Emma Morton Turner, Guest Editor
View all posts by Emma Morton Turner, Guest Editor