I can never resist a cake, and a birthday cake is even better. The thing is, you'd never make an outrageously over-the-top cake in the daily run of things, but when it's a birthday you get free license to really go to town.
Quite often, that means decorating for me. For example, last year I recreated the Welsh flag in cake form for Mr. Other P's thirtieth, complete with a glittering red edible dragon. Yes, really. Even though neither of us are true bloods. He just likes flags. And maps. And I like messing about with sugar, so it was a nice project.
Anyway, when I was in New York with my Mum and sister this February, I had my first contact with what I like to think of as 'The American Baking Scene' (doesn't that sound grand?). I say my first contact - I'd been to Magnolia with Mr. Other P the first time I was there, but that didn't really impress me (the cakes were dry. All that fuss for dry cake!). But did you know that there's a place in Brooklyn where they make carrot cake cheese cake? It's not flavoured cheesecake - it's cheesecake with carrot cake as the base. And it has frosting! Is that not amazing? I think it's one of the most creative and unique ideas I've ever seen. It blew me away. When I got back, I googled the place (it's called Junior's), and it turns out that they've been making this amazing stuff since before I was born, so why it was kept a secret from me until the age of 26 I do not know. They deliver, if anyone's feeling hungry.
The point is, the Americans get creative with flavour, whereas sugar craft is often boring when you bite into it. So, given that a birthday cake is a reason for excess anyway, I decided to go about this the American way. And I'm glad I did, because this one's a keeper.
I started with Mr. Other P's favourite flavour combination, chocolate and cherry (born after having eaten these). Well, chocolate was easy: I made a regular chocolate cake mixture and thought about what else to add. Without too much ado, a large bar of Belgian chocolate was smashed up and stirred in, along with a whole bag of crushed almonds and half a pot of sour cream (well, why not?).
I then layered in some tinned cherries. I planned to use a glass jar of those fancy-pants morello cherries you can buy from the deli in town, but when I saw how much they cost I realised we'd have to remortgage if I did. It's fine; the tinned ones tasted nice enough to me.
Now, ordinarily I'd stop there. But birthday cakes need icing. It's a rule. I thought about making a pink glaze from the juice the cherries came in, but since Mr. Other P ran the Cardiff half marathon in less than 2 hours at the weekend (that's his medal in the photo!), I figured that it was acceptable to make a chocolate fudge frosting instead. I don't know if I can really call it that though, as I just made it up, using what ingredients I had left. The texture is quite soft - it's smoothes out much easier than buttercream icing, and I think you could get it perfectly smooth quite easily. I just like it looking rugged and swirly.
And so there we have it. Double Chocolate Cherry-Nut Fudge Cake! A step up from just chocolate, methinks. Do not think about the calories and fat involved. It's a birthday cake!
Double Chocolate Cherry-Nut Fudge Cake
You will need:
250g plain flour
250g soft butter
125g granulated sugar
125g dark muscovado sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarb. of soda
150ml sour cream
200g good quality dark chocolate
200g ground almonds
1 tin of cherries in natural juice, drained
300g good quality dark chocolate
1tbsp golden syrup
100g icing sugar, sifted
150ml sour cream
- First make the cake. Put the first 8 ingredients into a (LARGE!) bowl, and beat together using a hand whisk until nicely combined.
- Stir though the sour cream, then add the almonds and roughly chopped chocolate.
- Grease and line the bottom of a 23cm round cake tin, and add half of the mixture. Smooth out, then cover with as many cherries as you like (I used half the tin... Because I'd eaten the rest.). Top with the remaining mixture, smooth out and bake in a 180°C oven for an hour, or until done.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Make the frosting. Melt the chocolate and butter together, and add the syrup. Stir. Chill for 2o minutes. Then add the sour cream, and icing sugar, and beat until thick and creamy. Use to frost the cake.
- Add sprinkles and candles.