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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A gravity-defying surprise for the birthday boy

Every year my husband and I have been together I've made him an unusual birthday cake - the first was a triple-layer chocolate cherry cake; three years ago he got a white chocolate and strawberry cake, and two years ago I made a chocolate explosion cake (see the pic at the bottom - from 2013). But this time, I thought I'd push the boat out a little and try out one of my new Lakeland toys which I'd been given at Christmas.
Coffee Walnut with Buttercream Icing. And Maltesers!
I decided to make him a coffee walnut cake with coffee buttercream icing.This is a very basic cake to make but can pack a wonderful flavoursome punch depending on how much coffee powder you use. I figured I'd need an easy cake to bake as I would be spending a lot of time decorating it - and I only had a few hours from the time I got in from youth group on the Friday until he came home from his friend's birthday party.

I tend to be lazy when it comes to baking cakes. None of this having to use a certain mixing dish or what-have-you. In fact, I don’t even like having to pound butter or spread until it’s soft enough to combine with the sugar. Nah. I just whack half a tub of Flora Light into a large saucepan, and melt it together with the right amount of brown sugar until it is combined perfectly.

When it has cooled down, I add the eggs and continue to put the ingredients together that way. It saves me at least 10 minutes of preparation time. It will revolutionise your cake-baking life, even if it makes Mary Berry faint in horror. And you know what? IT MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE TO THE TEXTURE OR TASTE OF THE CAKE AT ALL. 

I also can never be bothered to bake two small cakes to piece together. I use one big cake dish and then when the cake has cooled, I cut it carefully in half with a serrated bread knife. When it's covered with icing, NOBODY KNOWS....

So, here’s the recipe for Coffee Walnut Cake
50g walnut pieces (smoosh them up with a rolling pin to get ‘em small)
250g soft brown sugar
250g soft unsalted butter or Flora Light (plus some for greasing)
200g self-raising flour
3 large eggs
4 teaspoons instant coffee granules, melted into 1 tablespoon of boiling water.
Pinch of baking soda

Combine the ingredients and pour into a large round, well-greased dish. Cook for 40 minutes on 180 or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

It should be well-risen thanks to the self-raising flour. I know SF flour can make cakes a little dry, but with the extra butter/spread it should not be a problem. Because the cake will rise a lot, it will enable you to have enough leeway to cut it in half later on, when it has cooled, and to top-slice it ready for decorating.

For the buttercream frosting
500g icing sugar
200g soft unsalted butter
4 teaspoons instant coffee powder (again, melted in just 1 tablespoon boiling water)

Mix together until soft and a perfect consistency. When the cake has cooled, use a sharp, serrated bread knife to cut the cake in half carefully, and to cut off the top of the cake to create a smooth, flat base for icing. Set the top half aside in tin foil – you never know when you are going to need it!

Use some of the buttercream frosting inside the cake to create a scrumptious sandwich. The rest needs to be set aside to cover the cake.

For the decoration
One Lakeland gravity cake rod
Chocolate sprinkles
1 bag Maltesers (or any chocolate of your choosing)
Melted chocolate (warm but not hot)

Follow the instructions and stick the rod through the cake. Once it has been positioned into the cake, it is time to ice it.

Spread the buttercream frosting around the cake. Start at the top and work your way down the sides, letting gravity help your spreading and smoothing efforts. This, to me, was the most painstaking task of all and a few angry words were exchanged between me and the spatula. I am sure you will have better success than I did.

Be liberal in your application of the chocolate sprinkles around the cake. Then you’re ready for the Malteser mountain. Simply use a pastry brush to build up layers of sticky chocolate around the rod, and use as ‘glue’ for the Maltesers until they form a peak around the cake rod. Use chocolate to stick the empty packet to the top of the rod and voila! One gravity defying coffee walnut cake.

And yes, it was delicious and yes, I did eat most of the Maltesers off the cake when it had been put away. I tried to help myself but I considered that, at least, I would be helping DH to lose weight by gaining it myself.

Oh - here's the 2013 Chocolate Explosion cake. MMM.

Chocolate explosion cake 2013

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