We’re starting to feel the winter chill, a wonderful season change which calls for another recipe! I wanted to create a nice centrepiece again for you to bake for the Festive Season ahead and this one is a move away from the more traditional bakes, especially for those of you who fancy a change (or as well as!) a fruit cake centrepiece and your Yule Log. This chocolate cake recipe will bring out the festive senses with a hint of spice thrown in to the mix, as well as some orange zest and orange oil and of course a little bit of luxury and indulgence with the chocolate too. Feel free to decorate this cake however you would like – I’ve used some sugar reindeer but you can go mad with your snowflakes, wrap a big ribbon around or cover the top and sides in sparkly sprinkles if you like – whatever takes your fancy, use some artistic licence and create a showstopper centrepiece for your table.
450 gms light soft brown sugar
150gms lightly salted butter
150gms dark chocolate buttons
200 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
350 gms Plain flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
3 tbsps Cocoa powder
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp Ground Nutmeg
½ tsp Ground Cardamom
¼ tsp Ground Cloves
350gms white chocolate buttons/bar broken up
250gms unsalted butter
250gms Icing sugar
Zest of One Orange
2tsp Orange Oil/essence (or to taste)
8” Foiled cake card
Edible gold spray
Or Ribbon decoration/decoration of choice
Set oven to 160ºc. Grease and line two 8” round sandwich tins and set aside. Cream half of the light brown sugar with the butter and whip until light and fluffy, then add the four eggs and vanilla essence. Melt the dark chocolate buttons with the other half of the sugar and the milk in a saucepan – don’t let it boil. Sieve together the remaining dry ingredients. Add the sieved dry ingredients to the butter, sugar and egg mixture and blend well, then slowly pour in the melted chocolate mixture. This should give you a nice runny chocolate batter. Pour into your two tins, in equal amounts. Bake in the oven for approx 40 mins – check the sponges after 30 mins. The sponges will be done when they have shrunk away from the sides of the tins slightly and a skewer comes out cleanly from the centre of the sponge. When baked, remove from the oven, stand on a cooling rack and leave to cool in the tins.
Whilst the sponges are cooling, whisk the unsalted butter until very light and fluffy, then add the icing sugar and whisk that in too to form the base of your buttercream frosting. Grate the zest of one orange in to the frosting and add the orange oil. Gently melt your white chocolate buttons either in a bowl over some boiling water (never let the water/steam make contact with the chocolate, they really don’t like each other!) or very gently melt the chocolate in a plastic bowl in the microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring between each burst to ensure that the chocolate does not “catch” and burn in the centre. Once the chocolate is melted (it doesn’t need to be hot, just tepid) stir it in to your buttercream and taste – if you prefer a more orange flavour add more zest and orange oil.
When the sponges are cool, level the tops. Place one sponge on your base/plate and add a good layer of the buttercream mixture, then place the other sponge (with trimmed surface face down) on to the bottom cake (so you end up with the base of a sponge as the top of your cake). Spread the rest of your mixture on to the top and sides of the cake, evenly, ensuring that all of the sponge underneath is covered well.
You can either create a textured finish using your spatula or the end of a knife, or a smoother finish using a metal or plastic cake scraper. I decided on a more textured finish. I refrigerated my cake at this stage so that it really firmed up nicely ready to decorate.
Now the fun begins!
Roll out your fondant or sugarpaste to an even thickness, approx 3 mm. Cut out your desired decorations and leave on a greaseproof papered tray overnight or for a few hours to harden. Once dried out, they can be sprayed, painted or coloured however you wish.
Use a dab of buttercream to stick your reindeer around the sides of the cake.
Serve cake at room temperature. This cake freezes really well, so can be made in advance (chill after you have covered with your buttercream finish, so that the buttercream firms up, then wrap in clingfilm, then foil, do not freeze with the reindeer on, they can be added once the cake is back to room temperature). I really hope you’ll find time to have a go at this delicious cake, always feel free to get in touch if you have any questions at all. Liz x