Friday, 20 December 2019

Chocolate Christmas Cake

This Christmas I have made two special Christmas cakes using this recipe below. It has quickly become our family favourite. The one above, I made for the teachers at my son's school, as a thank you and well done for getting through a very long Autumn term.  The other one, I made for my own school's Festive Fair, for a 'Guess the Weight of the Cake' competition. (It was 3.7kg in case you were wondering!)

The same recipe for both cakes, but presented very differently. The bundt cake is topped with a simple icing sugar and water glaze, and then vanilla cookies on top (recipe for those here) and the triple layer has vanilla buttercream inside and around and a chocolate ganache drip on top. The biscuits on that are gingerbread (recipe found here).

In my opinion, it's worth making the biscuits too, as they are sooo delicious, and can be kept in airtight containers for a couple of weeks.

Chocolate Indulgence Cake


For the cake:
2 cups self raising flour (300g)
2 cups caster sugar (460g)
3/4 cup cocoa (90g)
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda (baking soda)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coffee powder
1 cup milk (250ml)
1/2 cup sunflower oil (125ml)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (10ml)
1 cup boiling water (250ml)

For the frosting:
250 g softened butter
500g icing sugar
2 Tablespoons milk (30ml)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 170C fan (350F) and line the base and sides of two 20cm (8 inch) cake tins, or one bundt tin.
2. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, bi-carb soda, coffee powder and salt and mix together in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
3. Whisk together to combine fully.
4. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to the flour mixture. Mix on a medium speed until fully combined. Carefully add the boiling water, and mix on high speed for 1 minute to add air to the mixture.
5. Split the mixture evenly between the two cake tins and bake for 35-40 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Bake for 45 mins in the bundt tin.
6. Leave the cakes in the tins for 15 mins and then turn out into wire racks to cool fully.
7. To get a flat top on the cake, once it is out of the oven, using your whole palm, press very gently on a clean tea towel on the top of the cake, and this slowly flattens it and saves you having to trim.

For the frosting:
1. Mix the butter, vanilla and icing sugar in a large bowl until the buttercream is silky. Add the milk to loosen it up.
2. Use some of the buttercream between the cake layers and then do a layer to crumb coat the cake. Chill in the fridge for 30 mins or until set.
3. Add another layer of the buttercream to the cake, smoothing the sides.
4. Decorate as you wish. I added a ganache drip and then put the biscuits on top.

It's a very indulgent cake, but for a chocolate lover, perfect!

Gingerbread Biscuits

This is a wonderful recipe to work with, and it tastes delicious! I use it to make biscuits and also our annual gingerbread house.

Gingerbread Biscuits

140g golden syrup
200g soft light brown sugar
200g unsalted butter
4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda (baking soda)
500g plain flour
1tsp salt
1 medium free-range egg, lightly beaten

1. Pour the golden syrup into a large saucepan with the sugar, butter and spices, then heat over a low-medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Increase the heat to bring mixture to boiling point, then take off the heat and beat in the bi-carb of soda. The mixture will froth and bubble at this point as the bicarb reacts - mix briefly until combined and leave to cool for 15 mins, then pour into a large mixing bowl (I used my stand mixer bowl),
3. Sift the flour and salt, then fold into the spiced sugar mixture in batches, using a wooden spoon or stand mixer. Beat in the egg until just combined. Don't over work the mixture of the biscuits will spread too much during baking (they spread anyway, but this may stop it going too far!)
4. The dough can be quite sticky to begin with but don't add any extra flour unless you absolutely have to, and even then use just a sprinkling - the minimum you can to get it less sticky and usable. Scrape out the bowl onto a clean surface and knead together until just smooth.
At this stage you can wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour or until cool. But I prefer to roll the dough out between sheets of baking/parchment paper to the thickness I want the biscuits to be. I then chill the ready rolled dough on trays ready to cut afterwards. It's much easier than rolling out fridge-hardened dough.
5. Cut out the biscuits in the shape you want and place them apart on a baking tray. They will spread slightly when cooked so to help avoid this, put the tray back into the fridge or freezer for 10 mins before baking.
6. Bake each tray for around 10-12 mins on 170 degrees C, or until slightly browned on the edges.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack ready for decorating.

This recipe makes a lot of biscuits, depending on the size of the cutter. The uncooked dough can be frozen and used at a later date, or stored in the fridge for about 3 days.

(Hint: for decorating purposes, it’s best to make the biscuits slightly thicker so they are robust in little hands)

Royal Icing (basic)
  • 500g royal icing sugar, sifted
  • 80ml water
1. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, adding the water and mix until a thick paste forms. Add more water as required but only a drop or two at a time. If you make it too runny, you can add more icing sugar to thicken it up. Add colour as needed.
2. Put into a piping bag ready to use on the biscuits. To make a flood filling, add small amount of water to the icing until it gets to a more runny consistency.

Royal Icing (egg free)
  • 90ml (1/3c) aquafaba
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4c icing/powdered sugar
1. Pour aquafaba into a mixing bowl and mix with electric beater until it starts to foam.
2. Add vanilla and sugar and whisk for about 5 mins until the mixture is thick and very white.
3. Add a very small amount of water ( a few drops) if the icing is too stiff. If you make it too runny, you can add more icing sugar to thicken it up. Add colour as needed.
2. Put into a piping bag ready to use on the biscuits. To make a flood filling, add small amount of water to the icing until it gets to a more runny consistency.