Do you know how hard it is to find a decent chocolate cake recipe? It’s not something I really make very often (in full cake form) but when my best friend’s birthday was just round the corner, I thought it best to make her favourite! Sure I found recipes; so called chocolate cake that only contained 1 tablespoon of cocoa, decadent Sachertorte that didn’t really scream birthday cake, fudge cakes infused with cardamom, pepped up with chilli or laced with lavender, anything, ANYTHING but just good old fashioned chocolate.
So in my predicament I turned to a simple but comprehensive cook book filled with step by step photographs and clear instructions and found what I hoped would be the birthday cake to end all birthday cakes – chocolate truffle cake. I’ll have to admit I was a little dubious at first due to the fact it was of the ‘all-in-one’ variety. I’m not proud to admit this but I’m a bit of a glutton for punishment when it comes to challenging recipes most probably originating from the Asian persuasion of harder must be better. But time was running short and this was the best I had come across, the photograph looked amazing and it was also one of the few I had found that included a decent amount of actual chocolate in the recipe – it fit the bill so off I went.
Chocolate Truffle cake with Crème Fraîche Ganache
Adapted from ‘What to Cook and How to Cook it’ by Jane Hornby
(Makes 3 thin cakes (layers) or 2 regular)
Chocolate Truffle Cake
- 200g (7oz) dark chocolate (70%) - melted
- 200g (7oz) unsalted butter (room temperature) - cut into pieces
- 200g (7oz) caster sugar
- 100g (4oz) brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 150ml (2/3 cup) natural yogurt or buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 150g (5oz) self-raising flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 25g (1oz) cocoa powder - sifted
Preheat oven 160°C/325°F – Prepare three 8 inch round baking pans w/ grease proof paper.
Melt the chocolate (see ganache instructions below).
In your mixer bowl place, unsalted butter, caster sugar, brown sugar, self-raising flour, salt, cocoa powder (sifted), yogurt, vanilla and 4 eggs.
Beat everything together until fully incorporated (don’t overbeat).
Pour in the melted chocolate and beat again until smooth and glossy.
Divide the mixture between the three pans – I always use scales, as it’s a quick and reliable way of making sure all pans have equal amounts of mixture.
Bake for 35-40 minutes.
Cakes should be well risen and a cake tester should come out clean.
Cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then carefully turn out onto a cooling rack.
Crème Fraîche Ganache
- 200g (7oz) dark chocolate (70%)
- 50g (2oz) unsalted butter
- 100g (4oz) icing sugar (WELL SIFTED)
- 300ml Crème Fraîche (you could also use sour cream or heavy cream)
Place a large (preferably glass) bowl over a pan of just simmering water. Make sure the bowl is not touching the water.
Break the chocolate up and place into the bowl.
Leave the chocolate to melt for about 5 minutes – stirring every now and then.
Place the butter into the bowl and stir until melted. The mixture should be smooth and glossy.
Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl – make sure there are NO LUMPS.
Pour in the hot melted chocolate and the crème fraîche and stir until fully incorporated.
As it cools the mixture will thicken.
Using a palette knife spread a decent amount of ganache between each layer of cake and then cover the cake with the rest.
Decorate with whatever you fancy; I went with white chocolate crunchy pearls, which contrasted nicely with the rich, flat and dark ganache.
The ganache was an undisputed success. I love ganache but it can sometimes be a little OTT , is often awash with performance anxiety and plagued with longer than expected waits for it to reach the desired consistency. With this ganache however, after fighting the natural urge NOT to pour icing sugar into molten chocolate, you actually find yourself with a bowl full of wonderful, perfectly workable frosting within the space of 10 or so minutes. I’ve made this both with cream and crème fraîche and think I found the latter to be easier and speedier with the bonus of a delightful tang. If traditional ganache has always give you the F.E.A.R. (Future Events Already Ruined) then this is for you. It was almost effortless and extremely delicious – a definite winner, and has been added to my growing arsenal of no-fail frostings!
So was it the birthday cake of MY dreams? No not really in the cakey crumby sense that I was looking for – it was however, dense and fudgy with almost a ‘flour-less’ chocolate cake texture. But let’s not forget, it wasn’t my birthday. Did the birthday girl and everyone else love it? Absolutely. It is a beautiful cake, robust, compact, full bodied yet delicate, what I would call more of an ‘adult’ cake – though the kid’s chocolate covered hands and faces told me otherwise. And let’s not forget how very straightforward it was to put together. In terms of ‘effort OUT, reward IN’ this cake is a huge win.
Need Fancy Cake Fast? Look no further.