Today Will celebrates his 34th birthday and of course all birthdays must be celebrated with an over the top birthday cake. And what I lack in creative flair, I definitely make up for in chocolate over-load when it comes to this birthday cake.
Birthdays take on a slightly different meaning as you get older, but as Will kindly likes to point out as he turns another year older, ‘you’re still way older than me’. Harsh, but true. I am and will always be 1 year 4 months older than him.
I asked Will what he’d like for his birthday dinner and true to form it will always be one of two things; steak or pasta. In his ideal world it would be his favourite meal of tuna spaghetti, but as I WILL NEVER EVER eat tinned tuna, this favourite meal is saved for evenings when I’m out. So instead, we’ll be having mac’n’cheese. This might not sound fancy, but Will loves mac’n’cheese, so much so that I bought him a cookbook which only has mac’n’cheese recipes in it and I’ll be testing one out for his birthday dinner.
We’ve got a long weekend away planned in Bath where I’ve found a luxury family friendly hotel which not only has a kids club, but also offers baby-sitting so that you can enjoy a three course meal at a leisurely pace rather than eating at warp speed which is normally the case with a child in tow. The Spa sessions have been booked, swimmers are packed and I’m ready to get out in the country air for a couple of days.
But before all that there must be cake.
This is a super simple fudgy chocolate cake, which is easy enough to whip together and fun to decorate however you fancy. It looks far more impressive than it is, and the bonus is that you can cover any misdemeanors you may have with the sponge, with a variety of your favourite chocolates.
You might need a few friends to help you get through it, but I’m sure you won’t be short of people putting their hands up for a slice.
It’s indulgent, it’s rich and it’s very chocolaty.
It’s all things a birthday cake should be.
Happy Birthday Willy Rolt xxx
Chocolate fudge celebration birthday cake
Makes 1, 23cm layer cake
For the cake:
200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
200g unsalted butter
1 tbsp instant coffee granules mixed with 125ml cold water
140g self-raising flour
90g plain flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g light muscovado sugar
200g golden caster sugar
25g cocoa powder
3 medium eggs
For the buttercream:
60g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
100g unsalted butter, softened
200g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract,
Milk, to loosen as required
For the topping and sides:
24 Kit Kats (I used one pack normal and one pack cookies and cream) – you’ll have some spare for you cup of tea
4 packs of Smarties tubes
1 pack of Maltesears
Strawberries dipped in melted chocolate
1 ribbon for the bow
To make the cake:
Butter a 23cm round loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
Heat your oven to 160 degrees C.
Over a saucepan of simmering water, place a bowl with your dark chocolate broken up into pieces. Cut your butter into small cubes and add to the bowl along with the coffee mixed with water. Melt the ingredients, making sure the water in the saucepan doesn’t touch your bowl, or it will burn your chocolate.
Whilst your chocolate is melting (but keep an eye on the bowl), mix your dry ingredients together. Add your self–raising flour, plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, light muscovado sugar, golden caster sugar and cocoa powder to a large bowl.
Once your chocolate is melted, take off the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
In a separate bowl beat your eggs and then add the buttermilk to your eggs and beat again so that they are well combined.
Add your egg mixture and your melted chocolate to your dry ingredients and beat together so that it is well combined and smooth.
It will look quite runny, but remember this is more of a fudgy cake.
Pour the mixture into your cake tin and bake in the middle of you oven for 1 hour 15 minutes – 1 hour 30 minutes. When a skewer comes out clean and the top feels firm, the cake is done. Leave to cool in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack.
Once the cake is totally cool, you can cut into 2 or 3 layers, I did two layers for my cake.
To make the buttercream:
Over a saucepan of simmering water, place a bowl with your dark chocolate broken up into pieces. Once the chocolate has melted, leave to cool for 15 minutes.
Beat your softened butter in a bowl until it is soft and then gradually add your icing sugar. I suggest covering the bowl with a tea towel as well as you beat in the icing sugar to prevent your kitchen turning into an icing sugar cloud.
Add your vanilla extract and beat the mixture again.
Pour in your melted chocolate and fold through. If you find your mixture too stiff then add a tiny bit of milk to loosen until you have a consistency you can spread on your cake. If you add too much milk, add a little more icing sugar.
If you find your cake top has domed or sunk, you can make the top the bottom of the cake so that you have a smooth surface to work on.
Using a spatula or pallet knife, spread a thin layer of butter cream on one half of your cake and place the top of the cake on top again so that you sandwhich the buttercream between the layers.
Then spread the buttercream all round the sides and on top of the cake so that you cake is fully covered. You will only need a thin layer and should just have enough buttercream to do this.
For the decoration:
Stick the Kit Kats all round the side of the cake and press gently so that they stick to the buttercream. Next tie the bow round them so that they are nice and secure.
Next top the cake with your Smarties and Maltesears and fruit in whatever design you desire. I did 3 circles or Smarties round the edge, then an inner circle of Maltesears, followed by some chocolate dipped strawberries in the middle.
You can of course sub the chocolates I have chosen for lots of fruit, or different types of chocolate, the choice is yours!
Serve with double cream, ice cream or as is.
The cake will keep in an airtight container for a few days.