This sponge cake recipe below is the one in my book for my chocolate fudge cake (page 282). I get asked a lot in emails how readers can make cakes which "look amazing but also don't take an eternity to prepare?" I'm going to be 100% honest and say ~ if I am making a chocolate cake for entertaining guests, 95% of the time I'll bake the cake from scratch using all raw ingredients but sometimes ~ especially if I have to make a few of them due to a lot of people coming round and I am totally pressed for time ~ I will buy a good supermarket chocolate cake mix in order to ease stress and make my life easier. Once baked I will then 'fancy' the basic cooked cake up to a new level with a variety of fruits and berries/nuts/flavoured creams/alcohol/fruit coulis and sauces etc. etc. (note - not all together! ;)
Disclaimer I do realise I am now opening myself up to a plethora of jibes at my next dinner party as to whether the cake came from my kitchen or a box! LOL ~ but bugger it - we're all human and sometimes we just need to opt for the less-stessful route.. ;)
I came across a gluten-free cake mix a few years ago when a friend brought a cake to a party at my house in Melbourne. She was coeliac and I was stunned to find out the cake we ended up eating after dinner ~ which she prepared earlier and brought along ~ was in fact made from a cake mix box. It was amazing - really fudgy and moist, super chocolaty and I was blown away how good it tasted. It totally changed my opinion of pre-prepared cake mix packets (strike that - I should say 'some' of them ~ and generally more-so it's the chocolate ones which are most impressive) and I found myself from time to time buying and preparing the same cake for friends. Obviously making the cake from scratch is a better option but not always the most sensible plan.
Christmas is such a manic time for us all, especially if you plan to entertain guests in the run up to Xmas and on the actual day of the 25th, let alone throw a NYE party (!).The recipe for my original cake sponge is below, but if you have to, don't feel guilty to grab a Devil's Food Cake or Mud Cake mix and substitute that instead.
Whether you go down the from scratch route or decide to 'cheat' and grab a cake mix, once you've baked the cake and allowed it to cool the process to finish the cake will be the same. I know a lot of cake mixes can include a bag of frosting, I rarely use these but to avoid wastage, you can squeeze the frosting into the ganache below if you like, it combines very well and just adds a little extra thickness.
6 free-range eggs
220g caster sugar
350g good quality dark chocolate ~ 200g broken into small pieces, the rest set aside in the fridge
75g plain flour, sifted
4 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
4 tbsp Kirsch liqueur
150ml cream, whipped
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
50g good quality milk chocolate, very finely chopped or shaved finely
400g morello cherries, drained
400g fresh black or red cherries, pitted
100g fresh raspberries
100g fresh mulberries (optional ~ if you can't get them don't worry, omit or use raspberries/
100g fresh blueberries
350g good quality dark chocolate
250ml pouring cream
Splash of milk
1 tbsp Kirsch liqueur
Icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan forced, grease and then line the base and sides of two 20 cm round spring form pans with baking parchment.
Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs for 5 minutes on medium speed until pale and frothy. Add the caster sugar and continue to whisk until thick and pale. Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a gentle simmer and melt the 200 g of chocolate in a small heatproof bowl that fits snugly over the pan without touching the water, stirring occasionally.
Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the flour and cocoa into the whisked egg and sugar mixture, followed by the melted chocolate, and combine well. Pour into the prepared cake tins and bake for about 20-25 minutes of until a skewer comes out clean. (Timing of the baking will depend on your individual oven, they may take a little longer than this 20-25 min guideline, so just keep an eye on them once they go into the oven).
Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool a little before removing from the tins and transferring to wire racks to cook completely.
When cooled, drizzle 2 tablespoons of Kirsch Liqueur (Kirsch is cherry flavoured liqueur) over the base of each sponge and allow to soak in (you can add more if you like). If you want you can bake the cake sponges the night before serving as overnight the liqueur will really get a chance to flavour the sponge.
To assemble the cake ~ place one of the sponges onto a serving plate. Add the mascarpone and whipped cream to a mixing bowl, stir to combine then add the chopped chocolate and vanilla bean seeds, carefully combing before dolloping onto the top of the sponge on the serving plate. Spread the cream out evenly, but leave a 2cm gap around the edge so when you place the second sponge on top, all the cream won't ooze too much out around the sides. Top the cream with the drained morello cherries and half the fresh pitted ones. Then follow with half the raspberries, mulberries, blueberries etc. Place the second sponge
To make the ganache: chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heat-proof bowl. Pour cream into a small saucepan and heat until almost boiling then simmer over low-medium heat for a minute or two. Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Note ~ it's super important you do not touch the mixture until 4 or 5 minutes have passed, if not there's a good chance the ganache will split. If it does, you can normally rectify it by beating with a Bamix or regular stick mixer.
After 5 minutes, stir the chocolate and cream together until thick, smooth and glossy, add the milk and the Kirsch then pour over the cake. If you do indeed use a packet cake mix and they include a pouch of chocolate frosting, add it to the ganache now.
Scatter all the remaining berries on top of the cake and dust with icing sugar.