Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

This recipe is not yet gluten-free

The reason I have been absent from posting for a few days is a very good one.  I have been baking this lovely Chocolate Gingerbread Cake extravaganza with stem ginger frosting and decorated with gingerbread houses, each representing one of beloved buildings in Stroud Green where I live.

IMG_3127I was asked by our WI President to make the cake for our Christmas outing to the panto.  A big group of giggling women trooping off to the new Park Theatre in Finsbury Park to see Sleeping Beauty is an occasion in and of itself and we definitely made our presence known.  However, the cake was also in celebration of the two year anniversary of the founding of Stroud Green WI.  It’s a fantastic group of women of all ages and backgrounds and we meet once a month for a catch up about local events and charities that we are involved with and also for some brilliant activities.
Stroud Green WI Cake

This year has been an amazing year for our WI, we have has some fascinating talks about design and forensic science, a visit from Wildes Cheese, dress-making lessons from Clare-Louise Hardie from the Great British Sewing Bee, quilting, sugarcrafting, a local history walk, a summer picnic.  And a hell of a lot of cake, which is the most important thing obv.  So I was only too happy to bake this cake and I wanted to make sure it was really special.

Chocolate and Gingerbread cake7

The templates for the houses were made the WI way, using card and a craft knife.  The sizes I went with were 10cm x 4cm for the tall thin houses, 10cm x 6cm for the stations and big buildings like Rowans bowling alley, 9cm x 5cm for the average sized buildings and 8cm x 4cm for the diddy ones.  To calculate how many you will need, wrap a piece of string around the circumference of the cake tins then measuring it against a ruler.  I then divided the circumference into the various widths I had chosen, deciding which houses would fit best where.

Chocolate and Gingerbread cake3

The Stroud Green WI banner was made with sugarpaste, hung on string and tied to cake pop sticks.

To assemble I placed one half of the 23cm cake on a 25cm cake drum, spreading a good layer of frosting on before putting the second layer of cake on top.  I then lightly frosted all over for a crumb coat.  I did the same with the 20cm cake but built it on top of a 20cm cake board.  I put both cakes in the fridge to set overnight.  The next morning I gave them both a second layer of frosting, inserted four dowels around the centre and into the 23cm cake to act as support then placed the 20cm cake carefully on top.  I added a white sugarpaste border to the cake drum and also a ribbon to the side.  Next I stuck the gingerbread houses onto the cakes which clung to the sticky frosting.  Finally I erected the Stroud Green WI banner onto the top of the cake, pushing the cake pops down as far as they would go so the banner would stay upright.  Then I took along to the panto where it was swiftly demolished – just like our local landmark Rowans bowling is soon going to be (an absolute travesty – what can we do!!??!!)

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Oh, and in case you are wondering – the panto was excellent too!

Chocolate and Gingerbread cake5

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

For the cakes:

495g plain flour
180g cocoa
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
2¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
360g unsalted butter
300g light brown sugar
335g caster sugar or golden syrup sugar
9 eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract
180g dark chocolate with ginger, melted then cooled
360ml whole milk
360ml boiling water
70g dark chocolate with ginger, chopped into chips

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C. Line and grease 1 x 23cm round cake tin and 1 x 20cm round cake tin.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, ground ginger, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the butter and the sugars for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract. At this point the mixture usually looks curdled but don’t worry it will come back together.
  5. Pour in the melted chocolate and whisk together until completely combined.
  6. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, adding the flour in three additions and the milk in two (begin and end with the flour), scrape down the sides of the bowls as needed.
  7. Pour in the boiling water and mix until just combined.
  8. Pour into your prepared cake tins, then scatter the chocolate chips on top, pushing them down slightly into the batter. Bake for 45-50 mins but do check after 30 mins and if your cakes are browning too much then place some foil over the top for the rest of the baking. Check they are ready by inserting a metal skewer into the cakes – it should come out clean.
  9. Leave the cakes for 10 mins in their tins before removing then cool on a wire rack completely before cutting in half width ways then frosting.

For the stem ginger frosting:

300g egg whites
500g caster sugar
680g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 balls of stem ginger, chopped very finely or whizzed up in the food processor
1 tbsp of the stem ginger syrup
Good pinch of salt

  1. Heat the egg whites and caster sugar in a bain marie, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature has reached 71°C.
  2. Remove the egg whites and sugar from the heat and pour into a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
  3. Change the attachment to a paddle attachment. On a low speed add the butter slowly cube by cube. When you have almost added all the butter the mixture will look curdled. Do not fret – this is supposed to happen and just means you are nearly done. Just continue to add all the butter. Once the butter is totally incorporated the frosting will miraculously become a smooth velvety consistency.
  4. Add the vanilla extract, the stem ginger plus the syrup and the salt. Mix until thoroughly combined.

For the gingerbread houses
Makes about 28 houses

680g plain flour
3 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp cloves
¼ tsp nutmeg
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g dark brown sugar
75g caster sugar
2 eggs
180g treacle
1½ tsp vanilla extract

  1. Sift the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, salt and bicarbonate of soda together.
  2. Rub in the unsalted butter with the tips of your fingers so it resembles breadcrumbs. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer beat the sugars with the eggs, treacle and vanilla extract until fully combined.
  4. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and bring together with your hands to form a dough until everything is combined and you can pat it into a smooth ball.
  5. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  6. Whilst it is chilling you can make your templates.
  7. Remove the dough from the fridge and start your rolling and cutting. I rolled just a small amount of dough at a time due to space.
  8. Form each piece of dough into a round ball then roll out using a silicone roller to avoid sticking. The dough will be a little tough at first but will soon start rolling out beautifully.
  9. Use 5mm spacers on either side of your dough so you can ensure it is all evenly rolled to exactly the same depth.
  10. Place your card templates on the dough then cut out with a knife.
  11. Place each house on a baking sheet with about 2½ cm gap in between. They shouldn’t spread out but it’s good to be careful.
  12. Put the baking sheets in the fridge and chill for 30 mins.
  13. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 180°C.
  14. Bake the gingerbread houses for about 6-8 mins each. They are ready when you can barely see the corners just start to crisp but the middle of the biscuits should still be a pale golden brown.
  15. Leave to cool on the trays.
  16. Decorate with royal icing any way you wish.
IMG_3128

 

Bounty Cake {gluten-free}

Bounty Cake is a light coconutty gluten-free sponge infused with coconut rum and filled and covered with a lush chocolate swiss meringue buttercream.

The Coconuttiest Gluten-Free Bounty Cake in town

Did Bounty ever have a TV ad? If it did, I don’t remember it. Does this mean that it was such a popular chocolate bar that it didn’t need to advertise. The Bounty knew how amazing it was already. Adverts were for loser chocolate bars, Bounty was far too superior for that, it didn’t need to tarnish itself with lame slogans and cartoon rabbits. There is a word in our house for that kind of attitude Mr Bounty, Smuggo. But it shouldn’t be too complacent in its glory as I was not a big fan growing up. I think it was a chocolate bar designed for adults. I certainly remember my mum always choosing Bounties which we could never understand. Although I think this was clever planning on her part, as she could be confident that we wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole. The chocolate was good but the coconut? Yuk. Give me a Boost and be done.

Now though, I’m partial to a bit of coconut (Chocolate has long been my soul mate. I love you chocolate, always be mine) which is present here four fold. This recipe includes coconut milk, desiccated coconut for that authentic Bounty taste, coconut flour and in keeping with the idea that Bounty is really adult terrain I have gone one better and added grown-up Calpol just to seal the deal. Malibu (although you can use any coconut rum). Which did have a commercial and a slogan which I love to sing-song with glee whenever I bring it out of the drinks cabinet ‘the sun always shines when it pours’. It does, it really does.
The Coconuttiest Gluten-Free Bounty Cake in town

I almost didn’t mention that this wonderful cake was gluten free in the title as I didn’t want you to get all huffy and skip it. Please don’t though as this cake has seriously passed the gluten-free haters test, namely my husband, and I would happily make this time and time again for anyone and everyone. As with the gluten-free sticky toffee cake last week the key is adding in as much extra moisture as you can. This time around, as well as the Malibu and the coconut milk in the cake batter, I used a sugar syrup which is brushed over the cake after baking. The warm sponge soaks up the delicious Malibu syrup, making the cake sticky, moist and scrumptious.

If you have never tried swiss meringue buttercream then you must have a go on your next cake. Do not be put off by the slightly complicated method, it’s really quite easy. If you find normal buttercream a bit sweet and heavy then this is definitely the buttercream for you as it’s the most light velvety buttercream you will ever taste. You could use fresh egg whites but since you need so many then I recommend you use Two Chicks egg whites which come in a handy carton. You only need half the carton so you can freeze the rest ready for your next swiss meringue buttercream cake as after you’ve tried it once you will never go back.

The Coconuttiest Gluten-Free Bounty Cake in town

Bounty Cake (gluten-free)

Bounty Cake is a light coconutty gluten-free sponge infused with coconut rum and filled and covered with a lush chocolate swiss meringue buttercream.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 866kcal

Ingredients

  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 60 ml Malibu
  • 50 g dessicated coconut
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • 300 g unsalted butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 250 g gluten-free plain flour
  • 50 g coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Coconut Rum Syrup:

  • 2 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoon coconut rum
  • 2 tablespoon water

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 8 egg whites 240g
  • 400 g caster sugar
  • 560 g unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed
  • 300 g dark chocolate melted then cooled.
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 100 g coconut flakes to decorate

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and prepare 2 x 8” round cake tins.
  • Pour the coconut milk, coconut rum, desiccated coconut and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for a couple of minutes, giving it a good stir, then turn off the heat and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs in one at a time, don’t worry if the mixture looks a bit lumpy it will come together.
  • Sift the flours and baking powder together.
  • Add the flour alternately with the coconut mixture, adding the flour in three additions and the milk in two (begin and end with the flour), scrape down the sides of the bowls as needed and mix until just combined.
  • Divide the cake batter between the two sandwich tins and bake for around 18-20 minutes until the cake starts to brown and come away from the sides.
  • Meanwhile you can make the sugar syrup. Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for around three minutes then turn off the heat.
  • When the cakes are ready, take them out of their tins after five mins resting. Poke the top of the cakes several times with a cocktail stick.
  • Brush the sugar syrup all over the two cakes, then leave them to cool before slicing in half horizontally to make four sponge layers.
  • Heat egg whites and caster sugar in a bain marie, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature has reached 71°C.
  • Remove the egg whites and sugar from the heat and pour into a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
  • Change the attachment to a paddle attachment. On a low speed add the butter slowly cube by cube. When you have almost added all the butter the mixture will look curdled. Do not fret – this is supposed to happen and just means you are nearly done. Just continue to add all the butter. Once the butter is totally incorporated the frosting will miraculously become a smooth velvety consistency.
  • Add the salt, the vanilla extract and the melted chocolate. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  • After frosting the cake, decorate with the coconut flakes.

Nutrition

Calories: 866kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 63g | Saturated Fat: 41g | Cholesterol: 178mg | Sodium: 71mg | Potassium: 323mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 51g | Vitamin A: 1440IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 3.9mg

Campfire Cupcakes

Campfire Cupcakes

There is a little tradition around these parts which I think is vital to the backbone of any nation.  It allows the common man to unite, upholding this great institution which they hold so dear.  For Cake Friday can always be relied upon at the end of any working week and in this we trust.  Friday, without doubt is the most celebrated day of the week and everyone knows that no celebration is complete without an obscene amount of sugar, butter and today, chocolate.

I will often make a variation of this cupcake at this time of year as it brings together the two most delicious things about the great outdoors, toasted marshmallows and malted hot chocolate.  Surely that’s the only reason any self respecting adult will pitch up a tent and rub two sticks together.  Otherwise, the world is going mad.  This year I have dusted off this recipe extra specially as I’m trying out my new blowtorch.  So you can expect most of the posts from now on to include some sort of singeing, toasting or bruleeing.

Campfire Cupcakes
For these cupcakes I used my favourite chocolate cake recipe which I whip out at any given opportunity, bake sales, birthdays, Tuesdays.  It’s rather special and hails from the wonderful Dorie Greenspan.  There are very intelligent people out on the blogosphere who only cook Ms Greenspan’s recipes and they are they ones that truly have their lives in order.  The second element of this Friday treat is the inner malted chocolate filling which just happens to be the most divine chocolate heaven you will ever experience.  So, there’s that.  Then the whole extravaganza is topped with pillowy marshmallow, rising regally to the sky then torched to within an inch of its life.  But that’s just me as I’m new to the blowtorch scene and it might have got away with me a little.
Campfire CupcakesCampfire Cupcakes
Makes around 12-16

Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

165g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
120g butter
100g light brown sugar
112g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
120ml whole milk
120ml boiling water, with ½ tsp instant coffee mixed in

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the butter and the sugars for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract. At this point the mixture usually looks curdled but don’t worry it will come back together.
  5. Pour in the melted chocolate and whisk together until completely combined.
  6. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, adding the flour in three additions and the milk in two (begin and end with the flour), scrape down the sides of the bowls as needed.
  7. Finally pour in the boiling water and mix until just combined.
  8. Pour into your prepared cupcake cases and bake for 15-18 mins.
  9. Leave to cool on a wire rack completely before inserting the filling and frosting.

Malted Chocolate Filling
Adapted from Sweetapolita’s recipe for Belgium Malted Chocolate Frosting

113.5g unsalted butter
125g icing sugar
20g Ovaltine
¼ tsp vanilla extract
60g milk chocolate, melted and cooled
30ml whipping cream

  1. Whip together the icing sugar and butter until pale, light and fluffy
  2. Add the Ovaltine, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Whisk until combined.
  3. Add the melted chocolate and whisk together for a minute.
  4. Finally pour in the whipped cream and whisk for a couple of minutes until the filling has firmed up a little.
  5. To insert the frosting, scoop out a little circle of cake from the top of the cupcake and pipe in the filling. You can place the little circle of cake back on top.

Marshmallow Frosting
Adapted from Bakers Royale’s Marshmallow Frosting

300g egg whites
250g caster sugar

  1. Place the egg whites and the caster sugar in a bowl over boiling water.
  2. Whisk constantly for about 10-15 mins until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature reaches 71°C.
  3. Pour into a stand mixer and whisk on a high speed for about 10-12 mins until the marshmallow frosting has stiffened.
  4. Using a Wilton 2D piping tip, pipe the marshmallow as high as you like then go crazy with the blowtorch.