This year I seemed to ‘lose’ March. No sooner had it arrived, than we launched into a month-long formal inspection at work, which called for excess hours in the office and many hours of intense focus. Planned leave was cancelled and one tired day piled into another…..
In amongst the chaotic busyness and ups and downs, I also had a birthday. To be honest, it came and went with very little expectation and minimal fuss. I am sad to say that I have reached an age where birthdays become increasingly scary……. Except that Miss GF made me the most amazing and incredibly decadent birthday cake. Look at it! I have to pinch myself that she is still only 11 years old. No kidding…… she made this cake without any help at all!
I have no idea where she found her inspiration for this beautiful Fudgy Chocolate-Berry Cake, but I am thrilled to say that she is using the blog as the intended recipe ‘book’ that it is and sourced the chocolate sponge from a recipe that I developed for her own birthday a couple of years ago. She added her own mark by throwing some freeze-dried strawberries into the mix and then took it from there……
When she saw that I had bought some cigarillos (for another cake I had planned), she nobbled a load and worked out her own way to stick them to the sides (with butter-frosting). She requested lots of strawberries and raspberries the day before, which were freshly delivered to ‘her’ kitchen, found a jar of raspberry jam in the larder and finished the whole lot off with a spread of dark ganache and a sprinkle of grated chocolate.
I will be honest….. she made the cake over two days after school and when I saw the sponge come out of the oven, I was a little concerned that it was going to be dry as no compensation had been made for the liquid that the dried strawberries would suck up. I needn’t have worried….. this recipe is very forgiving and when we eventually got to eat the cake, the sponge was perfectly dense and very fudgy. It worked superbly with the tart softness of the fruit, the sweet, decadent crispness of the cigarillos and the smooth richness of the ganache.
This is not a cake for the faint-hearted…. It is very rich and works well served with a slug of cream. A ‘three or four cigarillo’ slice is ample…… which means it goes a very long way…… Perfect for celebratory sharing!
Well done Miss GF…… I can honestly say this is the best birthday cake I have ever had.
As for birthday presents….. Mr GF has kindly bought me a wonderful trip to River Cottage for a day’s gluten free baking with Naomi Devlin in May. I can’t wait. No matter how my confidence in the GF kitchen grows, there is so much more to learn and I love hearing how the experts do it….. Perhaps Miss GF could give me a few lessons!
I am sharing Miss GF’s incredible Very Decadent Fudgy Chocolate-Berry Birthday Cake with :
Free From Fridays with Le Coin De Mel and Free From Farmhouse
We Should Cocoa with Tin & Thyme
Fiesta Friday with Angie
Very Decadent Fudgy Chocolate-Berry Birthday Cake
100g plain GF flour mix (I used blend A from this post)
15g cocoa powder
pinch fine sea salt
¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
1½ teaspoons GF baking powder
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g ground almonds
½ teaspoon vanilla bean powder
200g dark chocolate – broken into small pieces
150g unsalted butter
4 large eggs
200g caster sugar
100g dark chocolate chunks
handful freeze dried strawberries
- Mix all the dry ingredients together (except the strawberries), making sure any lumps are completely broken down.
- Base-line 2 x 8 inch non-stick baking tins with baking paper.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Melt the dark chocolate (200g) and butter in a heat-proof glass bowl, either over a saucepan of simmering water (stirring frequently) or in the microwave on medium setting at 30 second bursts, stirring between each. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a fork until well-blended and creamy.
- Add the sugar and beat again.
- Add the melted chocolate mix and beat in well.
- Add the dry ingredients and fold until the batter is smooth.
- Add and fold in the chocolate chunks and strawberries.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and spread evenly.
- Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. The cake will have a crusty top.
- Leave to cool in the tin, before removing ready to decorate.
- Beat the butter until soft with the vanilla extract.
- Gradually add the icing sugar and a little milk until you have a light, smooth butter frosting.
- Place one half of the cake (crusty side down) and spread a good layer of frosting across the surface.
- On the soft side of the second sponge, spread a layer of jam and then place this on top of the first layer, jam side down.
- Spread a good layer of icing sugar round the sides of the layered cake using a spatula.
- Carefully place the cake onto a serving plate and then gently but firmly, press the cigarillos one by one round the sides of the cake to form a ‘wall’. Leave a small gap for a fruit-ganache waterfall.
- Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.
- Heat the cream in a small saucepan over a low heat until just at simmer point.
- Pour the cream over the chocolate, leave to sit for a couple of minutes and the stir until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is liquid and smooth. Set aside to cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally until beginning to thicken.
- When the ganache has thickened to spreading consistency, spoon some onto the top of the cake and spread to the edges inside the cigarillos. Spread a little down the gap in the cake to form a ‘waterfall’. Keep a couple of tablespoons back for decoration.
- Pile the prepared fruit onto the top of the cake, sticking a few pieces of fruit onto the ganache waterfall.
- Gently heat the remaining ganache over a bowl of steaming water to loosen and drizzle over the fruit.
- Add a sprinkle of grated chocolate to decorate.