I really love to craft, what I call, elabourate cakes. These are cakes that hopefully you look at and think, or say out aloud, ‘WOW’.
My last real big cake was a little while ago now, back in Summer for the Olympics, team gb giant olympic cupcake baked with my good friend Kirsty. But Christmas is fast approaching and I feel the need for another seasonal bake. Not only this Christmas Pudding…who actually likes this wretched archaic invention of a pudding? It’s traditional I hear you say; my rebuttal to that argument is that simply just NO, it is horrible and screw what you call “tradition”. So what is the solution to this I am not going to keep you waiting any longer my dear friends…my chocolate christmas pudding cake!
The idea of this elabourate cake is obvious…it looks like a “traditional” christmas pudding but tastes one kajillion (technical term btw) times better and it’s a chocolatey heaven. Perfect for those of you out there that are normal like me and share my hatred for the traditional christmas dessert.
The prinicpal with this cake is that it’s a moist chocolate sponge with chocolate butter cream ganache holding it together and covered in a glossy ganache topped with fondant icing. So let’s start.
This cake is fool proof to make. It’s one of those all-in-one recipes that even your four year old brother couldn’t get wrong! So no excuses. The ingredients are for one cake; the entire christmas pudding requires three cakes, so bake three cakes!
50g cocoa powder
6 tablespoon boiling water
4 tablespoons milk
175g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
300g caster sugar
100g softened butter
3 eggs (I like to use free-range; makes me feel good for not supporting cruelty to chickens)
- Preheat your oven to 180˚C and grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
[My Step by Step of How to Easily Line a Cake Tin]
- Mix the boiling water and cocoa powder together in a bowl, next add your milk followed by the sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs and butter and blend together with a hand mixer for a couple of minutes. The whole mix should go a lighter brown colour as you whisk the air into it.
- Tip the mix into the prepared baking tin and bake for between 45 minutes and an hour; until a skewer comes out clean. It’s quite a wet batter so this could take a while, but we bake it slowly to keep the cake nice and moist.
Butter Icing and Construction
So to construct this cake we need to cut the individual cakes in half and then cut those halves down to size ready to stack up to form our basic sphere like shape. They are then stuck together with an apricot glaze and an über chocolatey butter icing. It’s the butter icing that we’ll be able to shape to form our sphere.
You may wish to make this up in a couple of batches as it’s quite a large quantity of icing sugar. If so, just half the ingredients and make up two batches.
750g icing sugar (confectioner sugar)
150g cocoa powder
220g softened unsalted butter
6 tablespoons of milk
2 teaspoons of salt
4 teaspoons chocolate extract (optional, but makes it über chocolatey)
- Start by sifting your icing sugar and cocoa powder together in a large bowl and set to one side
- In a separate large bowl beat the butter with a mixer for approximately 5 minutes, it will turn a paler yellow and soften up.
- Add your salt and chocolate extract and beat together with your softened butter.
- Add a quarter of your icing sugar and cocoa powder mix and beat in until it is completely combined with the butter mix. Follow this by a tablespoon or so of your milk.
- Repeat the previous step until all of your ingredients are used up. You may have to stop to scrape the sides of the bowl between additions
- Add your butter icing to a piping bag, ready to construct the cake.
- Take your three cakes and cut them in half using either a cake leveler or serrated knife if you don’t have one. Put one of these halves to one side, this will be your center disc of cake as it were. Take two of the halves and in turn place a bowl onto each one and cut around it.
- Next repeat the previous step with a smaller mug on two pieces of cake again. This way we’ll have 5 discs of cake that can be tiered.
- For ease we’ll shape them in two halves. Take the largest disc and one of each of the smaller tiers and coat them with apricot glaze. This helps contain the crumbs and stops the butter icing from not sticking. Use a little butter icing to stick the layers together and then pipe around the joins. I just find this is an easier way to start the shaping process. You don’t have to pipe it on. Next merge the butter icing to start shaping it.
- The secret to getting a smooth finish is shaping it in stages. Once you’ve got a rough shape, pop it into the freezer for about 15 minutes and the butter icing with firm up, bring it back out and fill in the gaps with more icing using a palette knife. I think I did this three times or so to get my shape perfect. Repeat this for the final two layers and when you have two halves stick them together to create your sphere.
- Using (even more) butter icing seal the joint between the two halves and shape to create your sphere. Leave to set for about 30 minutes or so before moving on to the ganache coating.
There’s one thing that isn’t quite up to par with this dessert, and that is that you can’t flambe, that is to say light it on fire, like a real christmas pud. Sorry folks. And that’s all due to this awesomely glossy chocolate ganache.
I’ve never been able to make a glossy ganache before and with this cake I’ve finally perfected it. It’s got two separate entities to it. The butter needs to be 1/3 of the quantity of the chocolate and cream and also it can’t be put in the fridge.
500ml double cream
500g dark chocolate
165g softened unsalted butter
- Make a double boiler by placing a heat proof bowl over a pan of boiling water.
- Place all the ingredients in the bowl and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter melt into one another
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool to around 30˚C, we don’t want the ganache to melt the butter icing we’ve spent so long shaping
- Place the cake on a wire rack over a tray, you may have to prop the cake up with a ramekin, depending on how sturdy your wire rack is.
- When it’s cool enough, ladle the ganache into a jug and start to pour over the cake. Trying to let it fall down evenly around (I want to say each side, but it’s a sphere) the entire cake. You may need to coax it up the very bottom.
- To make it smoother wait a minute or so and coat it again with a second coat of ganache. It looks like a huge malteaser now, don’t ya think?
- Leave to set overnight, out of the fridge, otherwise it will cease to be glossy and instead go matte.
Okay, so I cheated a little here…I used shop bought fondant for ease. I can make my own, but when I only need a little it just isn’t cost effective!
- Take a small amount of white fondant, perhaps around 150ml and place in a bowl over a pan of boiling water and allow to melt. Add a tablespoon of water to loosen it off.
- Once it’s all melted test the consistency of the fondant on a upturned jug or bowl, we want it to flow freely, but not too fast so it doesn’t run down the entire cake.
- Place the fondant in a jug and pour over the top of the set ganached cake. I struggled to get the pattern I wanted here I kept the jug pouring in one place and it evenly went down the sides of the cake, so I suggest you use flowing movements to coax it into creating those signature drizzles down the side of a christmas pud.
- Colour a small amount of unmelted fondant (I used holly green and christmas red) and shape into holly leaves and berries. (My housemate Jen did this for me!)
- Place on the fondant before it’s completely set so they stick and stay on.
- Last thing’s last we need to transfer this to a board to present it. You’ll need help here, we too three fish slices / spatulas and placed them under the cake and lifted. When it’s on your display board press down on the slice as your pull it out to stop it pulling the ganache off with it as you remove it.
ET VIOLA! Christmas Pudding (Chocolate Cake).