Saturday, 4 February 2006

Best Birthday Cake

Malteser Creation

I believe in chocolate being the most wonderful ingredient for a cake. Since the day i started eating chocolate, i'm a firm believer in birthday cakes existing in only one flavour - chocolate. And bless Nigella for creating the Malteser chocolate cake; such a cake would have been perfect for my sister's birthday today since she just loves maltesers (so do i really!) but the sad thing was i just didn't have time to go out and get plain flour or horlicks. time's been really lacking for me lately and i had to settle for whatever i had at home.
Last night, i really started to panic because i was lackin so many things: an extra 9" cake pan, plain flour, caster sugar, dark chocolate. It really gave me a headache since i wanted this to be the best birthday cake my eleven year old sister will ever taste. I scoured my recipes and my books and managed to solve the problem by combining a chocolate cake recipe from Lora Brody's Chocolate American Style, leaving out her decadent white chocolate cream cheese frosting (cos i didn't have any white choc or cream cheese...darn...but i would certainly try it in the near future), and my favourite Debbi Field's chocolate frosting from a previous devil's food cake recipe. Except, this time round, i used about 2,3/4 cup icing sugar instead of 4,1/2cup cause i figured the cake didn't need to be so intensely sweet.
And honestly, Lora Brody's cake recipe was about the best chocolate cake i've ever made. Although it really gave me a heart attack because i had used one 9,3/4" round springform instead of 2 9" ones and had to figure out the best cooking time for it (i switched it from a 35min cook time to about 1h5min cook time because my cake tester came out wet after 35min). Even a last minute idiot like me could whack out something so tasty from the oven, so you know how good this recipe is. What's so good about it ain't just the fact that it was no-fail. It's a very interesting recipe because on tasting, it's slightly deep-tasting and bitter from the coffee that is in it (yes, there's coffee!) but on moving the cake about in your mouth and mashing it between your tongue and the ceiling of your mouth, the sweetness starts to melt out of the cake and it's quite an amazing taste experience. While it's baking in the oven, it sure looks ugly but no worries because it tastes like a beauty!

This cake is good to fridge but must be taken out to thaw for an hour before serving. I've left mine out at room temperature and will fridge it for half an hour before eating. Can't wait!

If you're wondering how much the frosting recipe yields, for a 2 layer cake it's just about right. But since i was too lazy to slice my cake in half and turn it into a layer cake, the recipe yielded a little too much even though i'd only used 2,3/4cup icing sugar. My advice would be to half the recipe or simply be overly generous in your frosting. The vanilla extract is also a little too much for 1tbs, so i used only 2 tsp. And thanks goes to mel for calming my midnight jitters about baking time, great advice mel (the one about just standing guard by the oven and watching :D).

I wanted to be daring and copy nigella by throwing in horlicks (which i didn't have) or milo into the cake batter but i was a coward. figured it would be too risky to be held responsible for ruining the birthday cake and throwing a wet blanket on the whole occasion. Despite it not being the Malteser cake i initially wanted to make, i made up for that (hopefully) by decorating the final product with Clarissa's favourite candy. A simple garnishing would require one packet 40g of the candy. Something more fanciful or funny (like a heart design) would maybe need you to get two packets. Just have fun decorating! I sure did.

Speaking of chocolate cake, i had a fudge slice yesterday with caramel gelato at Estivo. It's located at Greenwood behind Raffles Girls' Pri. Greenwood has the most amazing food bistros and restaurants, my favourite being the Fish market restaurant that serves super good fish & chips (either beer batter fried or grilled in asian style). Anyway, it was an ice cream outing for my sister as a treat. She had a mocha gelato and a hotdog which she insisted was served with a sinfully good chilli sauce. I don't know bout that but the cake was quite good. It was buttery and chocolatey in the sense that there wasn't an overpowering sweetness but a good solid chocolate taste. The gelato we had were all normal flavours but it still tasted like a million bucks. I guess that's what makes a gelato good gelato, or at least a gelato maker a fabulous gelato maker. I'm not saying Estivo was world-class but it certainly made our day by serving out good ice cream in regular flavours ( & not so regular flavours like that kiwi sorbetto) and making us think of homemade goodness, lazy Sundays, Tom&Jerry cartoons on a peeling leather couch right from the comforts of an air-conditioned parlour.

Best Birthday Cake


2,1/4cup sugar

1,3/4 cake flour

1,1/4cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2,1/4tsp baking soda

1,1/4tsp baking powder

1/2tsp salt

3 eggs

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 tbs vanilla

1,1/2 cup buttermilk

1tsp instant coffee/espresso powder dissolved in 3/4 cup boiling water, cooled

Preheat to 180dCelsius. Butter your pans and dust with flour.

In a large bowl, sift together the sugar, cake flour, cocoa, bkaing soda and powder and salt. In another bowl, beat the eggs and then beat in the melted butter and vanilla. With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the buttermilk & coffee mixture until just combined. The mixture will appear curdled. Pour this into a well formed in the flour mixture and beat until traces of flour disappear. Check that none of the floor has formed on the sides of the bowl, if so, use a spoon and gently mix it in. Divide the batter between the 2 pans and bake for 30-35min or until the cake pulls away from the sides of pans and cake tester inserted comes out clean. Transfer to rack and cool cakes in pan for 20min, no later. Then remove from pans to cool completely.

White frosting

4oz white chocolate, coarsely chopped

16oz cream cheese, at rtp

1 stick unsalted butter

4 cups icing sugar

semisweet chocolate shavings

Melt chocolate in bowl set over, but not touching a pan of simmering water. (I think it's called bandmarie?) When melted, let cool. In another bowl, beat cream cheese and butter together on high speed for about 4min. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually mix in icing sugar. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2min. Add melted white chocolate & beat until well blended. Fridge the frosting, covered, until firm enough to spread.

When ready, slice your two cakes into 2 so you get 4 layers in all, then ice it generously, scattering the shavings on top thereafter. :)


johan said...

wow. wonderful creation! i sometimes wish i had a kitchen of my own. haix... makes me feel so inferior. i don't even have a proper mixing bowl! wahaha. i've got so much to learn.
by the way divana, you're in university now?

diva. said...

Johan, ha, my name is Davina. Well,baking is a neverending process so don't stop trying no matter what. I had a real ol' stuffy kitchen with a disgusting convection oven but you know, patience is SUCH a virtue. And no, not yet at least. I'm waiting for my A results. :)

johan said...

oops. sorry davina. =p

mel said...

that looks very, very good. WOW.

diva. said...

s'ok johan. o wait, did i mention that the convection oven was actually a microwave? MEL! thanks..i had a heart attack when the baking time screwed up initially.

johan said...

nv knew you can use a microwave to bake!