Ah me. So I had another disaster - but thankfully managed to avert this one!! Originally (and up until the day before baking/serving the cake) I had planned to try out my icing techniques and create a beautifully detailed cake. It was going to be vanilla sponge, covered in white fondant icing, and topped with an image of Sleeping Beauty and Prince Phillip. Around the sides of the cake I was going to ice and/or paint images of the three good fairies, of rose bushes and thorn bushes, and a fiery silhouette of Maleficent. It would have been lovely. However - I knew that I do not posses the drawing skills required to ice a picture of Aurora/Phillip straight onto the top of the cake (the ones on the side would be fine, as they are much smaller and require less detail) - so instead I decided to create a sort of topper, by tracing the image in royal icing. I traced two of these, as I couldn't decide whether I wanted Phillip in the picture, and also just in case one of them went wrong.
Well they both went wrong. The idea was that the royal icing would set, and I would be able to remove the greaseproof paper from underneath and gently place the applique/topper on top of my iced cake. However, after I finished tracing them it soon dawned on me that I had used a very very thin icing nozzle, and that would probably cause issues. I realised that the royal icing would be too long and thin to hold together, and that my toppers would probably crumble at my touch.
Whereas the fairies decide to use their magic to fix their wreck of a cake - for me that wasn't an option, so I decided to come up with a couple of back up plans. I'm clutching at straws ever so slightly, but I decided to base the cake around the scene where Briar Rose/Aurora goes out into the woods to collect berries - brilliant! Black forest gateaux!! Except that as it was very last minute I was unable to get hold of any cherries (my local shop doesn't sell them, the grocers is closed on Sundays and I didn't have time to go up to the major supermarket) so I used strawberries and raspberries instead. So it's sort of a forest berry cake - ish.
Originally I had hoped to stick to plan A and make the vanilla sponge iced lovely thing, but then I realised that I should try to handle the toppers as little as possible, which meant waiting until the cake was baked and iced before moving them, which meant I wouldn't know whether to make vanilla sponge or chocolate sponge until it was too late. Gah!! So plan B was to make the chocolate sponge, go out and buy the cherries (which ended up being strawberries and raspberries), and to place the topper on top of that (given that the topper worked...) Plan C was the same as plan B, but without the topper.
Well, coming to the end of my very long story about how we arrived at the cake we did - when I lifted the greaseproof paper from the baking sheet this happened:
So here's the recipe for plan C! Briar Rose's woodland berry* cake.
*do strawberries and raspberries even grow in woodlands? I don't know - but for the purpose of this cake, let's just pretend that when Briar Rose went out into the woods to pick berries, she picked up some strawberries and raspberries.
I've yet to come across the perfect recipe for chocolate cake. Don't get me wrong, I've never found a bad recipe for chocolate cake, I've just not come across a perfect one yet... so I'm still looking! This time round I based my cake on a recipe found here. The flavour of the chocolate cake was delicious - not too rich as some can be, but by no means not chocolate-y enough, as I've also come across before. However, the sponge was a little too crumbly for my liking, I would have preferred it to be much more moist, and the mixture did not seem to rise in the pan at all! Hence my search for the perfect chocolate cake recipe goes on... nevertheless this was a pretty tasty cake! (I'm just being extremely picky here - there were no complaints for the finished product, and everyone [except me, I was trying to be good] went back for a second slice!)
Prep time: 20mins Cook time: 25-30mins Serves: 14
150g dark chocolate
150g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
150g plain flour
50g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp cocoa powder
half a punnet of strawberries
half a punnet of raspberries
50g icing sugar
200ml double cream
white and milk chocolate, for decorating
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease and line two baking tins (of the same size!)
- Break the chocolate into chunks and place this and the milk into a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted and then place to one side to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, beat together the margarine and caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then fold in the chocolate mixture.
- Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and continue to fold until all of the ingredients combine.
- Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for around 25-30mins, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to rest for 5 minutes before removing them from their tins and leaving them to cool on a wire rack.
- Once the cakes have completely cooled, prepare the filling and topping. Set aside 2 strawberries and 3 raspberries for decoration. Hull and slice the the strawberries, and half the raspberries. Arrange the fruit on the bottom layer of the cake, completely covering.
- Whip together the double cream and icing sugar until it is thick and pillowy. Carefully spread this over the berries then place the second layer of cake on top of this.
- Melt a little white and a little milk chocolate and drizzle this over the cake to decorate. Place the strawberries and raspberries that were set to one side earlier in the centre of the cake.
- Cut into chunky slices and enjoy! (Due to the fruit/fresh cream in this cake it is best kept refrigerated and eaten the same day.)
Next time it's 101 Dalmatians, and I'll be making some chocolate chip cookies :-)