Friday, 29 June 2012

cake for a special occasion

I don't usually make layered cakes unless there is a special occasion.


I baked this simple chocolate layered cake for my child's birthday, and also to mark the 14th year since I became a mom ;) How time flies, our bundle of joy has now grown into a healthy teenager!


As what I have planned, we bought him a camera as birthday present. He was uneasy when I asked him which model he would prefer, he felt that he didn't deserve it at all. It is an expensive gift but I know he will make good use of it. Since he didn't want any birthday presents for the past few years, plus I do not reward him with gifts even for doing well in his studies, I thought this camera is a good way to make up for everything. To make him feel more comfortable,  I told him not to expect any birthday presents for the next ten years, this 'assurance' instantly puts him at ease ;)


Back to the layered cake. I got out of my comfort zone this time. Instead of using the whole eggs method to make a genoise sponge cake, I followed a chocolate chiffon cake recipe. This recipe came in handy as it calls for baking powder and baking soda, which was good for me as I needed that little extra help to make sure the cake would rise since I wanted to bake it in a normal cake tin instead of a chiffon tube pan. The cake did rise and formed a slight dome with a small crack on it. It didn't bother me much since I could removed the dome easily. After slicing the cake into three layers, I couldn't help but to take a picture of it. The cake looked lovely without any frosting, I know I am quite capable of messing up things when it comes to frosting and decorating a cake, it is not difficult to imagine how ugly it will end up.


The chocolate ganache was surprisingly easy to work with, much easier to smooth it evenly over the cake than whipping cream. Even without using a cake turntable the chocolate layer appeared to be quite smooth. Not too bad for a self taught baker.


As usual I was at a loss when it comes to decorating a cake. I lack creativity and imagination. Fortunately, my younger son was at home that afternoon. With his help, we managed to put something together...although it turned out to be a little too kiddish for a teenager, lol.  But, we know the birthday boy wouldn't mind...unlike his mom, he doesn't eat with his eyes.


We had a mini celebration that evening. The lovely reflections of the candle flames on the chocolate layer made this homemade cake looked so much more sophisticated. Actually, I totally forgot about getting a box of matchsticks to light the candles. Since the candles were very small, I didn't want to risk burning my fingers to light them directly over my gas stove. I have no matchsticks at home but I do have a packet of spaghetti. Yes, I used a piece of spaghetti as a lighter. It worked really well and I only used one piece to get the job done. If I were to use matchsticks, I would probably used up a whole box to light so many candles. Besides using it as a matchstick, do you know that spaghetti can also be used as cake tester? The only down side is, if you are not careful, it may break and you may end up with a broken piece of spaghetti inside your cake!


The texture of this cake was slightly heavier than a normal chiffon cake, it tasted just like the usual sponge cake to me. Nevertheless, I was quite satisfied with the result as it could get very tricky when making chiffon or sponge cake with cocoa powder. The chocolate ganache was really good, I used only a very small amount, yet, its presence was felt. Overall it was a delicious cake that everyone enjoyed.


Chocolate Layered Cake

Ingredients:
(make one 7" round cake)

for sponge layer:
3 egg yolks (use large eggs)
25g caster sugar
50ml vegetable oil
70ml water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
85g cake flour
25g cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon baking soda

4 egg whites (use large eggs)
55g caster sugar

for chocolate ganache:
170g pouring cream (I used one can Nestle pouring cream)
170g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Method:

   to make sponge cake:
  • Line base of a 7" round pan with parchment paper. Do not line or grease the sides.
  • Sieve together cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
  • Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl. With a ballon whisk, whisk the yolks a little. Add in sugar and whisk till the mixture turns pale and thickens.
  • Add in vegetable oil gradually, whisking at the same time till the mixture combines.
  • Add in water gradually, whisking at the same time till the mixture combines. Add in vanilla extract, whisk to combine. Sieve over the flour mixture and whisk till the flour is fully incorporated. Do not over mix. Set aside.
  • In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a handheld electric mixer on low speed until mixture becomes frothy and foamy. Add half of the sugar amount and turn to high speed and beat the mixture. Continue to add in the remaining sugar and beat until the egg whites reaches the soft peak stage.The soft peak stage is reached when the peaks of the whites curl over and droop slightly. The egg whites should appear smooth and glossy. (Do not over beat the whites still stiff, it is better to beat the whites still soft peaks for easy folding with the yolk batter.)
  • Add the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk batter in 3 separate additions, each time folding gently with a spatula until just blended.
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan lightly on a table top to get rid of any trapped air bubbles in the batter. 
  • Bake in pre-heated oven at 170 degC for 40~45 mins, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, when lightly pressed the cake will spring back. Invert the pan immediately and let cool completely before unmould. To release the cake from the pan, run a thin-bladed knife or a off-set spatula around the inside of the pan.
   to make chocolate ganache:
  • Place cream and chopped chocolates in a bowl. Set it over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl is big enough to sit over the saucepan).
  • Stir the mixture gently with a spoon till the chocolate melts and mixture becomes smooth.
  • Remove from the bowl from the saucepan. Use immediately.
   to assemble:
  • Slice the cake horizontally into three layers. Place a layer of sponge cake on a cake board. Spoon about 4 heaped spoons of the chocolate ganache onto the surface. Spread evenly with a spatula. Repeat with the second layer of sponge cake. Place the third layer and spoon the remaining ganache over the top and spread it over to the sides. Smooth the surface evenly with the spatula. Decorate as desired. Keep chilled in fridge.
Recipe source: adapted from 初事身手做甜点, 信太康代

80 comments:

  1. che torta gustosa, l'assaggerei molto volentieri! un bacio :)

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  2. Happy Birthday to your son! :) That is one delicious layered chocolate cake. The pictures are gorgeous as usual. Great composition, colours, clarity and angles.

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  3. WOW, it looks SOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOD :D

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  4. It looks delicious! and the decoration is perfect, I would love to decorate cakes like you...when it comes to ganache...i always end up destroying my sweets =)

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  5. You did the birthday cake beautifully! Lucky son!

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  6. Lovely cake and happy birthday to your son. I haven't try out chocolate ganach should try out one day. I'm sure my kids will love it. Anywhere can I replace pouring cream with whipping cream? If yes both dairy and not dairy can be used right?
    Do you lined your can pan? Or just like other chiffon cake only lined the bottom without greasing the side. Thanks!

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  7. Wow looks so beautiful cake with wonderful gift, really ur son may enjoyed this b.day.

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  8. Happy belated birthday to ur son!

    I admire the even layering and smooth frosting of ur cake. Coincidently I am having a choc cake with ganache in my draft for my next post. :)

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  9. The cake looks perfect! Happy birthday to your big boy! I'm sure he loves the cake and the present very much!

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  10. happy birthday to your son :) he's so sensible - if my parents wanted to buy me a camera i would have welcomed it with open arms ;p

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  11. This cake looks very moist and yummy!! Great!
    Greetings from Switzerland! Sibylle

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  12. Happy birthday to your son! Cake looks lovely, I'm sure the camera will be put to good use too! :)

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  13. Wow!!! Looks amazing! Definitely a recipe I need to try :) Thanx!

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  14. I think my girl and your son shares the same birthday but she's 2 years older. I wanted to bake her a cake but chicken out last minute, so you are braver than I, besides being a better baker.
    You have a very wonderful and undemanding son. It must have been 14 wonderful years with this boy and many , many more to come !

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  15. Oh, that looks amazing! (And I bet is tasted amazin too!).

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  16. Happy belated birthday to your son!
    It is a lovely cake and it looks professionally done.
    By the way, how do you do those little blossom flowers which you used for decorating? I supposed you use a plunger cutter but what ingredients do you use?

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  17. dear all, thank you for your well wishes :):)

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  18. Hi Vivian Pang, yes, you may replace the pouring cream with dairy whipping cream. I lined the bottom with parchment paper, I do not grease or line the sides.

    The Experimental Cook, what a coincident! I am not brave at all...it was just that my kids do not mind an ugly cake, and I am too stingy to even want to spend money to buy a cake ;) Yes, I am very lucky to have my boys, both are easy going and good natured.

    Hi Anonymous, I didn't make those tiny flowers, those were ready made sprinkles (Wiltons) which I received as gift :)

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  19. Hello,

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  20. Hi HHB, long time no hear from me, finally I m back heeheehee... Happy belated birthday to ur young man! The cake looks nice and drooling, love the even cake layer and filling, looks so prof. I love the most is your photography and the feeling, color tone, ambience, superb!

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  21. Hi HHB,

    I know I have just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award last week but could not help passing the Addictive Blog Award (again) to you this week! I hope it's not redundant :D

    I am one of those loyal followers of your blog for a couple of years by now so I think it's just proper if I regard your blog as an addictive blog for me to read on regular basis. I have announced it here: http://www.mywanderingstorycom/2012/07/addictive-blog-award.html

    Cheers,

    Christine

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  22. HHB, loves your bakes and reading your blog...
    Happy Belated Birthday to your young man. Your children are so lucky to have you making nice food for them..

    Emily Koh

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  23. That chocolate cake looks delicious. Thanks for sharing.

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  24. May I know what kind of chocolate did you use, is it semi-sweet type? Thanks

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  25. hi, may I know what camera did you buy? It looks so lovely! so does your cake :)

    Sam

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  26. Hi Jess, read your latest post, welcome back!

    Christine, thanks again for passing on another award to me :):)

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  27. Hi Anonymous, I used dark bittersweet chocolate with 66% cocoa content.

    Hi Sam, we bought him a Canon 60D. The camera in the photo is just a replica...a vintage hansa camera miniature ;)

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  28. Hi HHB, i missed out on all of you for a very long time; that is a very beautiful cake. Best wishes to your son...:-)

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  29. Hi reading through your blog was great; would appreciate a little help from you...i think you would be the right person to answer this question..does phoon huat sell individual wilton piping nozzles...? (i already have the coupler and a few nozzles)i mean do they have a standard pack of nozzles or an array from where i can select my choice. If so, do you know their price...? Thanking in advance

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  30. A great recipe not only for birthdays but for any type of occasions. My guests were really surprised by both the texture and tastes. I really advice this recipe.

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  31. Hi happybowl, really appreciate you for taking the time to leave your encouraging comments and keep coming back to read my blog :):)

    Hi Anonymous, you can get the nozzles (sold separately) at PH. I am sorry I do not know the prices, but probably in the range of $2 to 4?

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  32. Belated birthday wishes to your son. That's one thoughtful gift. So does the simply gorgeous cake. Love it to the core! :)

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  33. Why didn't you use whopping cream, but pouring cream for gannah

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  34. Hi, it comes in small quantity and has a longer shelf life than whipping cream so I always have a can on hand.

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  35. Hello,
    Happy Belated Birthday to your son! :)

    I was surprised that you said that you had to 'step out of your comfort zone' to make the chiffon styled cake. Don't get me wrong, that's because I always fail at making cakes the genoise sponge cake method whilst chiffons are alright! :) I took a look at your other sponge recipes and they made me want to try to make it... but alas, I fear ze genoise sponge. (haha)

    It's kinda off topic (sorry), but for a genoise sponge cake, do you beat the eggs to ribbon stage or soft peak? I fear I always over-beat the eggs (trying to achieve that chiffon cake texture) that's why they don't turn out well. :(

    Anyhow, seeing this cake makes me crave chocolate. Awesome, clean cake as always! :) Thank you for sharing the recipe. Cheers.

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  36. That first photo is just utterly perfection, HHB! I think you really sell your baking and decorating skills short!

    Happy belated birthday to your kid!

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  37. Sharmaine, I have always been making genoise sponge cake for layered cake, this is the first time I am using a chiffon cake for the sponge layer :)
    For genoise sponge cake, I usually beat the batter till the ribbon-like stage. I am the opposite, I find it easier to make genoise cake than a chiffon cake as I have problem folding the whites to the yolk batter.

    eatandbehappy, thanks Laureen! nah, I can't go beyond simple layered cakes ;)

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  38. @Happy Homebaker
    Thanks for the speedy reply! :)
    Argh, I tried making a genoise sponge today and it failed... the bottom was very dense. Afterwards, I spent a few hours looking at video after video (and your videos too) and recipe after recipe and I'm stumped. I THINK I know how to fold ingredients.. if I could make a chiffon then by right, it should be fine?

    I have no idea what's wrong. It seems as though after I fold in the flour, there are fairly large pockets of air, (the batter looks like sponge) and the batter is not glossy and velvety like everyone's. Would you know the cause of this? Is it the beating of the eggs afterall? I always encounter this same problem. :( Am really wanting (more like obsessed) to perfect this cake.

    Sorry I keep pestering you with long posts and questions.

    Cheers.

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  39. Hi Sharmaine, yes, after folding in the flour, the batter will look coarse and porous, but after folding in the oil/melted butter, it will become smooth and silky. Maybe you didnt fold the butter until it fully incorporates into the batter? you can drizzle in the butter, but not pour everything in at the same spot (hope u know what I mean?), other wise it will deflate the batter and do scrape the spatula all the way to the bottom of the bowl to make sure no butter is left at the bottom. alternatively, you can remove a small portion of the batter, fold in the butter, then pour it back to fold with the rest of the batter. Hope u get what I mean, and all the best in your next attempt. I look forward to hearing good news from you!

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  40. This cake looks amazing, your icing is so smooth! Let's hope my cake will look as good when I have to make one for my boyfriend's sister!

    This has given me a lot of ideas, thank you :)

    lifeinamuddle.blogspot.com

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  41. Hi HHB,

    Can I use the chocolate chips (from Poon Huat) that we use to bake muffins on this cake (for chocolate ganache)
    I cannot find any 66% cocoa carrefour house brand bar chocolates for baking.
    Bebe

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  42. Hi Bebe, I have not tried melting chocolate chips to make ganache...maybe u can try other brands of baking chocolates (bars) like hershey? Actually for best result and taste, do invest in high quality chocolates, or the best you can afford. for me, since I am no professional baker, I used cheap chocolates ;)

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  43. In the end I bought compund chocolates from Phoon Huat. they said it is the same as bar chocolates. Any idea?

    Bebe

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  44. Hi Bebe, I am sorry I have not used any compound chocolates from PH.

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  45. Hi HHB,
    I would like to check with you if I were to bake this cake with a 9" cake pan, will you be able to advise how much more ingredients do I need?
    Appreciate your help as the smallest pan I can find is 9".

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  46. Hi erith, I do not know the amount of ingredient to use. maybe you can try double portion? you will probably need to bake it slightly longer.

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  47. HII HHB, i have just started reading ur blogs they r amaging. its helping me a lot in my baking hobby. i have tried ur recipe i hav come across some difficulties
    1- when i m mixing dry ing to egg yolk mixture it turns out to be very thick. is it like that or i m wrong some where ? pls tell me

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  48. Hi Preeti Yogesh, thanks for visiting! Yes, the yolk batter will be quite thick. The consistency is just like the yolk batter in chiffon cake.

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  49. Hi , HHB.
    thnx for reply.
    i tried more recipe from ur blog .its cmng out very nice. thnx for sharing ur experience.

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  50. Hi HHB, I loved your blog a lot and am always coming back to look at those wonderful cakes u made. I am planning to try out this chocolate cake recipe and I am wondering if you have tried putting this cake in the fridge overnight? Will it kind of harden up and make it difficult to cut? I will be using fresh cream so need to refrigerate the cake. TIA!

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  51. Hi Thanks for reading my blog :) yes, I left it in the fridge overnight...it didn't harden, no problem with cutting it.

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  52. Hi HHB, have you tried using milk instead of water to make this cake? Thanks.

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  53. Hello HHB, what kind of pan do u use? Dark non stick pan? Any idea is it bcos I used dark non stick pans thats why my cakes tend to be more dense and heavy?

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  54. Hi, I have tried using milk...

    Hi, I don't use dark non stick pan. I think dark non stick pan will absorb heat faster and the crust will brown faster...but I don't think it will cause the cake to become dense and heavy.

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  55. Hi HHB, any difference to the texture of the cake when you use milk Do you just replace water with the same amt of milk? Thanks!

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  56. Hi, I'm sorry I had meant to say I have not tried using milk... I think it wont affect the texture. You can replace with equal amount of milk.

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  57. Hi HHB, is the cake very soft? I am thinking of making a 7" stack on top of a 9" cake. Is this cake texture suitable for stacking? Thanks!

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  58. Hi HHB, for the eggs, how many gram eggs did u use for this recipe?

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  59. Hi, the texture is soft, I am not sure whether u can stack it?

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  60. Hi, I used eggs that has a net weight of 55g without shells, with shells is about 60g.

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  61. Hi, I am sorry I have not made any cakes that are suitable for stacking.

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  62. Hi homebaker. I did this cake yesterday night. But the cake turn out bad. It did not rise.. may i know what had happen? Did I over beat the egg white??

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  63. Hi, did you beat the egg whites to the correct stage? That is, when the whisk is lifted up peaks will form and the tip will curl over. You may refer to this site to take a look how over beaten egg whites looks like:
    http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2010/02/how-to-beat-egg-whites-baking-meringues-chiffon-cakes-souffles-slideshow.html#show-73799

    If you have beaten the egg whites correctly, you could have deflated the batter when folding the yolk to the white batter? Was the finished batter thick, and fill up to at least 80% of the pan? if the batter was thin and runny you could have deflated the batter.

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  64. Super blog, Just loved it.

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  65. Hi HHB, I tried the recipe yesterday and my 1st attempt flopped :( the cake was more like kueh. Any idea what went wrong? My 2nd attempt is better, but can still see that the bottom of the cake is dense (more kueh like).

    BTW, what size egg did you use? I tried to get eggs that says net weight 550g on the packaging. Is this correct? Maybe you can advise me which brand/type of egg to get? Thanks!

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  66. Hello, I was reading the previous posts and you mentioned before that u used eggs with net weight of 55g without shells. How do you know the weight of the eggs when you bought them? What brand did you get?

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  67. Hi, have you baked chiffon cake? The preparation of the batter is similar to a chiffon cake. If you have beaten the egg whites correctly your cake shouldn't be dense. Or u could have deflated the whites while folding it to the yolk batter. The finished batter should be thick and not thin and runny. The batter should fill up to 90% of a 7" round pan.

    I dont use a specific brand of eggs. The nett weight is printed on the package.

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  68. Hello HHB, I have tried ur recipe and loved it. Its soft and moist. Thanks for sharing ur recipe! I used non dairy whipping cream instead of ganache. I find the whipped cream is very sweet and thick. Do u gave any idea how I can lighten the whip cream to make it less sweet and more fluffy (light)?

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  69. Hi, no dairy cream is sweetened, don't think u can make it less sweet...

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  70. Thanks. What abt making it lighter? Any idea?

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  71. Hi, I am not sure what you meant by 'lighter' or more fluffy? Did you beat the non dairy cream until it becomes stiff? If yes, then it is the texture which is similar to store bought cakes frosted with whipping cream. I am sorry I do not know of any method to make it even lighter...

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  72. hi HHB thanks for your recipe, i tried it yesterday, when i mix the flour to the egg yolk batter it became very sticky is that anything wrong?
    and i found the cake not sweet enough can i add more sugar to the recipe? or will that ruin the whole cake? thanks

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  73. Hi, I am not sure what went wrong, could it be the size of the eggs you use? I use eggs which are about 55g without the shells. I am not sure about adding more sugar...you can probably try add another 10g to 20g.

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  74. Hi. Will the cake be affected if I put it in the fridge overnight? Will it affect the texture?

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  75. Hi it won't affect the texture.

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  76. Hi HHB, need some advice. If I want to do a non-chocolate sponge cake and omit the 25g cocoa powder, do I need to replace it with more flour? Any idea? My daughter doesn't like chocolate.
    - Jan

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  77. Hi Jan I have not tried omitting the cocoa powder...don't think it is advisable to replace it with equal amount of flour. To avoid any disappointment, I suggest it is best to follow a plain sponge cake recipe instead.

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  78. I made this last month it was super perfect!! i am so glad i tried your recipe because it was a last minute cake baking request for a celebration!! thank you for sharing and today i am baking this again for the 2nd time for my son birthday. :) hee...hee...im so loving this recipe of yours!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing your baking experience! Happy birthday to your boy :)

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