I've had the idea for this cake tucked away in the back of my mind for a while now, a clear visual image probably dreamed up on whilst waiting on a dreary train station platform or trying to revise for a physics exam or some other occasion in which my mind is prone to wander. Which possibly sounds a bit weird, but I kind of don't care.
I eventually came up with the perfect excuse to make it, as I got the result of the exam I took back in November, and thank goodness found that I had passed. The results were not exactly brilliant, but they weren't awful either. I think either way I would have ended up baking a cake, either to comfort myself or to celebrate. I think this was a bit of both.
It's kind of a variation on my berry mascarpone cake, but better. Because it contains chocolate, obviously. Lots of chocolate, in the form of three chocolate sponges and a salted chocolate ganache on top. I'm personally a bit addicted to smoked sea salt (see here for further proof), and am still adding it to as many recipes as possible, but not everyone in my family liked the taste of it in the ganache. I practically had to stop myself eating it straight out of the bowl!
I was going to stick to my favourite chocolate cake recipe for this cake, but decided at the last minute to try this recipe instead. It has a pretty unusual method and I wasn't at all sure how it would turn out. Actually, it turned out pretty great and I think the recipe is a keeper. The cakes had a deep, rich flavour of chocolate and that light-as-air texture you sometimes get from a flourless chocolate cake like a roulade.
Chocolate Cake with Cherries + Raspberries + Salted Chocolate Ganache
Cake recipe from Green and Black's Ultimate Chocolate Recipes
For the cake
80g cocoa powder
235ml boiling water
100g dark chocolate
310g self-raising flour
400g caster sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
225g unsalted butter
50g olive oil
melted butter, for greasing the cake tins
For the filling
300ml double cream
50g icing sugar
100g crème fraîche
For the ganache
1½ tbsp caster sugar
284ml double cream
200g dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp smoked, or ordinary, sea salt (optional)
Line three 20cm cake tins with greaseproof paper, and brush the sides with a little melted butter. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
In a small bowl or jug, whisk together the cocoa powder and boiling water until smooth. Set aside to cool down.
In another bowl or jug whisk the eggs and water together until just combined.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until completely melted and set aside.
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a food processor or stand mixer. Add the butter, oil, and cocoa mixture and mix on high until smooth. Gradually add in the egg mixture, beating all the time. Finally, beat in the melted chocolate.
Divide the batter into the three tins and bake for 30 - 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly. Let the cakes cool in the tins for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack.
Once the cakes are completely cool, make the cream filling and chocolate ganache. The ganache takes about 30 minutes at room temperature to set enough to be spread on the cake, so I suggest starting that first.
Heat the cream and caster in a small saucepan, or in the microwave until it is just beginning to bubble. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped dark chocolate until smooth. Add the salt to taste and set the ganache aside to firm up a little.
While the ganache is cooling, prepare the cream.
Whip the cream until thick and holds soft peaks. Take care not to over mix it. Fold in the icing sugar and crème fraîche.
Now begin to assemble the cake. Take the first cake and place it on a cake stand or plate. Spread half of the whipped cream over the top, scatter over half the raspberries, and repeat for the next layer with the remaining cream and raspberries. Place the final cake on top, and spread over the ganache (if it is too runny, simply leave it to cool for a little while longer). Pop the cherries on top as a finishing touch, then step back and marvel at what you have created!