Makes a 15cm (6”) three tiered cake. Serving 8–12.
- SK Cocoa Powder Extra Brute:70g (2 1/2oz)
- Instant coffee: 1tsp
- Boiling water: 8tbsp
- Softened unsalted butter: 135g (4 3/4oz)
- Silver Spoon Light Brown Soft Sugar: 90g (3oz)
- Tate & Lyle Baking Caster Sugar: 280g (9 3/4oz)
- Large free-range eggs: 4, beaten
- SK ProfessionalSelf Raising Flour:235g (8 1/4oz)
- SK Baking Powder:1 1/2tsp
- Salt: 1/2tsp
- Buttermilk: 30ml
- Milk: 40ml
- Cake filling, e.g. buttercream, jam, fruit curd, whipped cream, fresh fruit
- SK Chocolate Ganache Mix:250g (8 3/4oz)
- SK Ready-Tempered Isomalt:25g (>3/4oz) Red, 25g (>3/4oz) Orange and 25g (>3/4oz) Yellow
- Chocolate sticks
- Chocolate curls, chocolate chips or chocolate sprinkles
- Sandwich tins: 3 x 15cm (6”) deep
- Mixing Bowls
- Silicone spatula
- Stand mixer (with beater attachment) or hand whisk
- Cake leveller
- Palette knives: small and medium
- Cake board/plate
- Cake scraper
- Baking tray
- Greaseproof paper
- Cocktail sticks
Making The Chocolate Cake
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (350˚F/Gas Mark 4). Line and grease three 15cm (6”) deep sandwich tins.
- Blend the cocoa, boiling water and instant coffee together in a bowl and allow to cool slightly.
- Cream the butter and sugars together in a stand mixer on a medium speed or with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy – about 3 minutes.
- Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the butter and sugar and mix until thoroughly combined.
- In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt together
- Add half of the beaten egg and half of the flour mix to your chocolate mixture and mix on a low speed until just combined. Repeat until all the egg and flour is incorporated.
- Combine the buttermilk and milk together and add to your mixture. Mix on a medium speed for about 20 seconds, until all combined.
- Evenly distribute the mix into your prepared tins and bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for a couple of minutes in the tins, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely
- Wrap each sponge in cling film and allow to rest (ideally overnight) before levelling, stacking and decorating.
Top Tip: I have three must try, chocolate cake-changing top tips for the most perfect chocolate sponge: 1) Buttermilk: I only use a small amount but it makes the sponge velvety smooth once it’s baked, and does a create job at keeping the sponge moist for days afterwards. 2) Instant Coffee: This won’t make your sponge taste like coffee, but it will bring out the flavours of the chocolate, creating a richer, more indulgent taste. 3) Blooming Your Cocoa: Another technique for developing the chocolate flavours to their fullest. Simply mix the cocoa with boiling water before adding to your mixture.
- Make your chocolate ganache cake covering. SK have created a really reliable and very easy to use ganache mix – all you need to do is add water and heat! Follow the instructions on the packet to make the ganache. We want to use it to cover our cake, so you will need to chill the ganache to achieve the right consistency. Once the mix has melted and you have a smooth, shiny, runny ganache, put it straight in the fridge to chill. Remove every 10 minutes to stir, until it’s cooled to a buttercream consistency – it needs to hold its shape and be spreadable. I chilled mine for 40 minutes but each refrigerator will vary so keep your eye on it and remember to stir every 10 minutes.
- While your ganache is chilling, level your cooled, baked sponges. Either use a cake leveller (or a long sharp serrated knife) to remove any dome off the top of your sponges. You want to end up with lovely flat, even layers. Hold the leveller/knife parallel to the top of the cake with one hand and hold the sponge with the other. Slowly and carefully spin the cake as you cut through it, this will ensure your sponge is as level as possible. Use slow sawing motions to achieve a clean cut. (See Top Top 1)
- Attach your bottom sponge layer to your cake board or plate with a little cake filling. Carefully fill and stack your sponge layers on top of each other. Then cover and chill your stacked sponges for 30 minutes. (See Top Tip 2)
- Once your ganache has reached the right consistency, take it out of the fridge and whip it using your stand mixer or hand whisk for about 5 minutes (until it’s doubled in size and has lightened in colour). Set aside until your stacked sponges have chilled.
- Next, apply the first layer of your whipped ganache to your chilled, stacked sponges to crumb coat it. Use a palette knife to spread your whipped ganache on the top of the cake first, levelling it out as much as possible. Then apply the ganache to the sides, gently pushing it into any uneven sections, trying to achieve nice straight, smooth sides. Smooth round the cake with your palette knife, or if you have one, use a turntable and cake scraper to remove any excess off the sides and top to achieve a really smooth finish. This layer of icing does not need to be perfect, just smooth and straight to provide a great base for your final layer of icing. Wipe around the edge of your board/plate and chill for 30 minutes.
- While your cake is chilling, make the isomalt flames. To do this, preheat your oven to 180°C (350˚F/Gas Mark 4) and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Place your isomalt pastilles into flame-like shapes of different sizes on your baking tray and place in the oven for 4 minutes (until melted).
- Once melted, very carefully remove the tray from the oven and use a cocktail stick to drag the colours up to create flames on your paper. Allow to cool completely before handling. They will peel off the greaseproof paper easily once cool, don’t worry! (See Top Tip 3 & 4)
- Remove your cake from the fridge and apply the final coat of your ganache. First, apply another layer of ganache to the top of your cake with a palette knife, smoothing out as much as possible. Then roughly apply an even layer of ganache to the sides of the cake. Once fully covered, use a clean palette knife to drag from the bottom of the cake upwards. Repeat in relatively straight but random patterns to achieve a rustic tree trunk effect, cleaning off your palette knife each time. Work your way around the whole of the cake and wipe around the edge of your board/plate once you’ve finished.
- Finally, take your chocolate curls, chips or sprinkles and add to the top of the cake to create a ‘leaf litter’ effect. Add your chocolate sticks in a teepee design to create the bonfire. Finally, carefully pick up your isomalt flames and wedge in between the chocolate sticks to really bring your bonfire to life.
Top Tip 1: I always use sandwich tins to bake my cakes rather than slicing deeper cakes into two halves – baking time is less and I find you achieve a much more reliable bake.
Top Tip 2: For the top layer, I always flip the sponge over when I place it on top so the bottom of the sponge becomes the very top of the cake. This has a crumb formed from where it was in contact with the tin when baking, and is easier to apply your icing to when you decorate
Top Tip 3: Please take great care when handling isomalt; it gets extremely hot and will burn you if you touch it when hot.
Top Tip 4: You can make these decorations in advance, however store them in an airtight container on greaseproof paper and lightly cover in clingfilm to limit exposure to the air. If left out they will absorb the humidity in the air, become sticky and lose their lovely glossy shine.
Recipe and images from Jennifer Jackson at Honey Lane Bakery, Henley on Thames .