I’m The Baker. Or the Dessertress.
That is, when my friends and I get together, I can always be counted on for some kind of ridiculous sweet concoction. But all of my friends have their own ‘thing’. Edweina makes a inhibitions-reducing punch. Nic makes a mean dip. Natalie knows her wine. Gloria is great for knowing the best place for an occasion, or a theme that brings out the best in her guests (though the wine has more than a little to do with that too). For a long time, it was me and cupcakes.
This extends to my family. My mum is a cook, and an amazing one at that. However she maintains that desserts are not her bag, baby. So they became mine. I’m ok with this, as I have a wicked sweet tooth, and it’s the perfect way for my to indulge whatever craving I’m experiencing at the time.
So when my beloved Dad’s birthday rolled around, the call went out. ‘Bri, you can make the cake.’.
Oooh baby *greedily rubs hands* Yes. Yes, I can.
So began the trawling for
food porn. I mean, inspiration. Sadly, most of the things that caught my eye were glorious, summer fruit-filled delicacies. That doesn’t work when it’s the middle of an Australian winter. Damn you, northern hemisphere.
Then I found it.
It was one of those lightbulb/heavens parting/Eureka! moments.
Now, I made a couple of adjustments for my audience. My parents and my grandmother are all ginger junkies. So I opted to swap the berry jam for ginger conserve. I also topped the cake with chopped crystalized ginger, pretty much just because I could.
I also, in a panic, doubled the cake. Turns out, my cake tin was larger than the one used in the recipe, so when it finished cooking, it only stood about an inch high, looking nothing like the picture. I looked at it, horrified, and though ‘I can’t serve such a tiny cake to Frankie!’, neglecting to think that they could just serve fatter slices. So I panicked, and got up very early the next day to make a second cake, to double the height
When it was finally assembled, I realised my error, and again, in a panic, called mum to ask how many people were coming to said birthday party. Any less than 10, and well, we were eating a lot of cake.
Luckily, Frankie errs on the side of greedy, and quite happily ploughed through a slice that would probably induce a heart attack in someone with less experience putting away food. The rest went to work with him the next day, where there were reportedly no survivors.
Chocolate Cake with Ginger-Nutella Filling and Chocolate Ganache
Makes 1 9-inch, 4 layer cake, adapted from Sugar Plum
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1/2 cup dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate chips, melted
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 cups Nutella, warmed slightly
- 1 cup ginger preserves, warmed slightly
- 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup finely chopped ginger
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour cake pans.
In a medium mixing bowl, using a mixer on high speed, beat egg whites (reserving the yolks) until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, with the mixer on medium speed, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla, and melted chocolate until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually mix in flour, alternating with milk, until just combined, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Fold in egg whites in three additions, until combined.
Divide batter into cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake pulls away from the side of the pan and a toothpick inserted comes out with moist cake crumbs. Cool for 12 minutes on wire racks in the pan. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto wire rack to cool completely.
Split each cake in half (you can use the dental floss method, I just split between two pans). Spread a layer of Nutella and ginger preserves on each cake layer, assembling the cake as you go.
To make the ganache, heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it comes to a simmer, turn the heat off and whisk in the 8 oz chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Cool until it’s a good consistency and then pour and spread over the cake. Top with ginger.
Pictures don’t do justice to how big it was, so unless you want diabetes, probably stick to a single batch of cake.
Not pictured: Frankie (my dad) with cake and melted ganache stuck in his mustache.