We've been lucky enough to spend a few days with my sister Charmaine and her partner Brenna . It's become a bit of a tradition at this time of year. Little Miss 4 loves spending time in Dunedin with Auntie Char Char and we all get to share her birthday celebrations. Last year I made her Sophie Dahl's gluten free chocolate cake, this year I thought I would try Annabel Langbein's Ultimate Chocolate cake. It came highly recommended after Charmaine tried it at a recent wedding. With all this great summer fruit around it was an easy choice to team the cake with boysenberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries and plums. I used Charmaine's super vintage kitchen equipment to make her cake. I'm not sure how old her Kenwood mixer actually is, but I'm sure it can't be far off the first model. I stayed at the apartment to make the cake while the girls kept LM4 amused at the Dunedin Museum butterfly house.
Annabelle Langbein's Ultimate Chocolate cake with Chocolate Ganache and Summer Fruits, served with a spiced Plum Compote
3 cups self raising flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
200g butter - softened
1 cup milk
3 large eggs
1 cup boiling hot coffee - I used 3 shots of espresso topped up with boiling water
Preheat the oven to 160deg. C and grease a 25cm spring form tin - that's the type with the clip on the side and the bottom edge that interlocks with the base.
The original recipe just combines all the ingredients in a mixer or food processor and mix or blitz until well combined. Since I was using such a geriatric beater, I decided to stage the mixing a little. I started by beating the butter, sugar and eggs together.
Then I added the sifted dry ingredients, mixed a little, then adding the milk and coffee and beat until it was well mixed.
Place in the prepared tin and bake for about an hour until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
My cake peaked and cracked a little so I trimmed the crusty bits from the top. The chocolate ganache will cover up any imperfections.
Leave to cool in the tin for about half an hour before releasing the sides of the cake tin and inverting the cake so the base can be removed. I loosened the base with a knife. Leave the cake to cool completely before decoration or the butter cream will melt.
250g dark chocolate - I used Whitaker's 70% cocoa solids
Break up the chocolate and place it into a large bowl. Heat the cream until just beginning to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate.
Stir until it is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to set before decorating the cake.
1 1/2 cups fresh boysenberries
4 tablespoons sugar
Cook together in a small pot stirring constantly until the mixture is juicy. Now squash the berries using a folk. Cook for a few minutes more then put aside to cool.
Boysenberry Butter cream
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons icing sugar
4 tablespoons hot Boysenberry Sauce
Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Add the hot boysenberry mixture and beat again until the mixture is light and fluffy.
It should be smooth and creamy, not curdled. Test the flavour and add a little lemon juice if it lacks tartness. Put aside until you're ready to decorate the cake.
Spiced Plum Compote
2 cups plum halves with stones removed
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
a few pieces of fresh lemon peel
the juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Make a syrup from the sugar, water, lemon peel and juice. Boil the syrup for a few minutes before adding the plums. Simmer for no more than 4 or 5 minutes then take from the heat and leave to sit with the lid on until they are needed.
To decorate the cake you will need the Ganache, boysenberry sauce and butter cream and an assortment of summer fruits. We added candles, and LM4 insisted we include a cocktail umbrella as she considers them awesome, especially after Brenna made her a tropical drink with one.
Slice the cake into 3 even layers and separate them out.
Place the bottom layer on a serving plate and spread it with boysenberry sauce, followed by the butter cream. place the next layer on top and repeat the process.
Place the top of the cake on and cover it in Chocolate ganache.
Depending on the ganache's degree of setting, it may be possible to just pour it, otherwise spread it with a knife.
Now decorate with the fruits. I started with blueberries, followed by cut strawberries, then the fresh cherries. LM4 helped me to put in the candles and umbrella.
We served the cake with the spiced plum compote and ice cream.
Happy Birthday Charmaine! Thanks for sharing your special day with us!