Want to come play in the Cookie House? There will be no nutrition involved today, I promise. Today we shall make my daughter a birthday cake and it will have dairy, and gluten and nuts and sugar and chocolate and cream and all of those things that so many of us cannot eat.
Come on, she is only 19, she has a lifetime to discover the things she should not eat, let’s make something decadent and delicious.
She has asked for a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, so this is where we begin.
We are going to make this as a sandwich cake, no, not with bread, but two cakes sandwiched together. We begin with two very simple sponge cakes. Remember we spoke about Rob? The chef I worked with as a very young chef who taught me to make wonderful soups? Well, this is a recipe I got from him. He was a wonderful soup and sauce chef but he hated to make desserts, so this was his lazy sponge, a good base cake for added trimmings.
Rob’s Lazy Sponge
200g plain flour
15g baking powder
200g caster sugar
15g cocoa powder
200g softened butter
Very important! Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced or 180 degrees C.
This is also what is known as a one bowl or an all in one cake, which means we are not being dainty, we are tipping the whole lot into a big bowl and beating the living daylights out of it.
To begin let’s combine our dry ingredients, don’t bother sifting them, this is not that sort of cake, just give them a good stir. Now, pop your butter into a small bowl and give it a little holiday in the microwave, we are wanting just to soften it, not melt it, so ten second burst and then give it a poke, it should be quite soft, softer than room temperature unless your room is above 30 degrees, starting to wilt but still holding its structure, like this-
Good, now tip that in with your dry ingredients, add the eggs and the water and begin to beat. Because this is a lazy sponge I am going to use my stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer or even a whisk in a big bowl if you are feeling energetic. Anyway, now what I want you to do is look at the colour.
It will begin like this, very dark, very dense, very heavy, and so we beat.
What do you think? Better, but still not ready, give the bowl a good scrape and then beat again.
Ah now. That’s more like it, you see, very light, very fluffy, full of air and when we lift our whisk attachment most of the mix should fall back into the bowl. Good, now divide it between two lined and oiled springform tins, smooth the top and pop them into your PREHEATED oven. Bake for about 30 minutes or until cooked through, they should spring back to a gentle touch or stick a skewer in them, the skewer should come out clean.
And there we have it, Stuart’s your uncle, we have two chocolate cake balloons. Run a knife around the edge as soon as you can handle them and get them out of the cake tins and cooling on a rack.
Set them aside to cool.
While they are cooling we are going to make a whipped chocolate peanut butter ganache. For those of you who are not familiar with this icing, a ganache is simply chocolate and cream. We are going to make quite a thin one as we are going to whip it up so it makes the fluffiest and most divine chocolate icing you have ever tasted.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache
500g pouring cream
300g chopped dark cooking chocolate
85g smooth peanut butter
Put your cream into a medium sized pot, heat gently until hot, we don’t want to boil it, but it needs to be hot to melt our chocolate.
Put the chopped chocolate and the peanut butter into the bowl of your mixer or into a large bowl if you are using a hand whisk or one of those beaters, pour in the hot cream and stir, stir, stir until it is all lovely and smooth. If you want to add a flavouring here, a liqueur or an essence, this is the time to do it. Stir until it looks like this -
Now pop that into the fridge for about an hour until it is cool and thick, give it a stir every fifteen minutes to be sure it is cooling evenly. When it looks like this -
Get your whisk out and beat, beat, beat until it is paler and fluffy, like this -
Put a spoonful on the plate to hold your cake in place and put the first cake on top of it. Spread a couple of spoonfuls over the surface, like this -
Add a good layer of chopped chocolate covered peanuts.
Cover with another two spoonfuls of ganache.
Now the other cake.
Reserve about four spoonfuls of the ganache for the rosettes, spread the rest all over the top and down the sides, smooth out.
Now pipe rosettes around the bottom and some little ones on top. Add a chocolate peanut to each rosette. This one also has an E on top as the birthday girl’s name is Emma.
Happy Birthday Emma.