You will also need a bundt pan with a base measurement of 20 cm (8 inches), greased and dusted with flour, or a 20 cm (8 inch) springform cake pan, sides greased and dusted with flour, base lined with baking parchment.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).
Break up the chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl with half the milk. Sit the bowl over a pan of just simmering water to melt the chocolate, about 5 minutes. Make sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir the chocolate and milk until combined and then put to one side to cool.
Now in a small bowl, lightly whisk together the remaining milk, crème fraîche (or sour cream), and brandy. Put to one side.
Next, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Now gradually add the eggs until the mixture is smooth. Occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the mixture.
Using a large metal spoon fold in half the flour with a pinch of salt and then add half the milk mixture. Repeat using the remaining flour and milk mixture.
Spoon slightly less than half the cake mixture into a separate bowl and quickly mix in the melted chocolate.
Then combine both batches of the cake, marbling lightly so that both mixtures are still apparent.
Carefully spoon into the prepared cake pan and bake for 40 minutes, until a fine skewer comes out clean when poked through the centre of the cake.
Leave in the pan until the cake is fairly cool and then turn out on to a wire rack.
*I buy my golden syrup from a British store here in Canada. If you are unable to find golden syrup then substitute it with liquid honey.
For the filling and decoration
150g(5¼ oz) unsalted butter, softened (⅔ cup, or 1¼ sticks)
300g(11 oz) icing/powdered sugar (2¾ cups)
2tbspcoffee extract, or Camp coffee
2tbspicing/powdered sugar, for sifting
24chocolate buttons OR
40milk chocolate chips
You will also need 2 × 18 cm, 7 in sandwich cake tins/pans, greased and base lined. Also a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized star nozzle.
For the sponge
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5).
Cream the butter and sugar together with a hand held electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Now gradually add the beaten eggs, golden syrup, and coffee, together with 2 tablespoons of the flour.
Fold in the remaining flour and ½ teaspoon baking power.
OR put everything in a mixing bowl or food mixer, but adding 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and whisk until the mixture is smooth, light, and fluffy.
Divide equally between the two cake tins/pans and level the tops.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are firm and spring back when lightly pressed with a finger. The sponges will also have slightly shrunk away from the sides of the tins/pans.
Leave for a couple of minutes and then turn out onto wire cooling racks and remove the lining paper. Leave to cool completely.
For the filling and decoration
Meanwhile beat the butter, icing/powdered sugar, coffee, and water together until the mixture is smooth, light, and fluffy.
Put a quarter in the icing bag and put to one side.
Place one of the sponges on a flat surface and spread evenly with the remaining coffee cream. Then place the second sponge on top and sift heavily with icing/powdered sugar.
Now lightly mark the top of the cake with a knife through the icing/powdered sugar into 8 equal portions. (This will be used as a guide for the piping.)
Now starting from the outside edge of the cake, pipe a line of buttercream on each marked portion but only take it up within an inch of the centre. Then pipe a ring of stars to join the lines in the centre.
Arrange the chocolate buttons or chocolate chips in the lines of piped buttercream.
To finish, lightly dust over the whole cake with a little icing/powdered sugar.
The cake can be frozen. Put in a rigid container with a cover and freeze. To thaw, allow 2–3 hours at room temperature.
There are many different recipes for a trifle but a sherry-soaked sponge first brings to mind the traditional English trifle. The delicious flavour of raspberries make this the fruit of choice with a silky, smooth custard topped with dollops of whipped cream and then decorated with more raspberries and toasted flaked almonds. Just a heavenly dessert.
English Sherry Trifle
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Standing and chilling time: about 2 hours
Plain sponge cake, for example a Madeira cake
350g(12 oz) raspberries (2¾ cups)
3tbspmedium or sweet sherry
480ml(16 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (1¾ cups)
14g(½ oz) toasted flaked almonds (2 tbsp)
icing/powdered sugar for dusting
For the custard
3eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only
85g(3 oz) caster/superfine sugar (½ cup less 1 tbsp)
600ml(20 fl oz) milk (2½ cups)
You will also need a large flat-based glass serving bowl for this dish.
First make the custard. Whisk together the egg yolks, cornflour/cornstarch, vanilla, sugar, and three tablespoons of the milk.
Heat the remaining milk in a small pan and, as it comes up to a boil, remove from the heat and whisk into the egg mixture. Now pour this back into the pan and, over a gentle heat, stir until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Pour into a jug and cover the surface of the custard with cling film/plastic wrap to prevent it forming a skin, then leave to cool.
Now to make the trifle. You will need enough of the cake to cover the base of the serving dish and be about 2.5 cm (1 inch) deep. Slice the cake in half horizontally and then spread one half with the raspberry conserve. Sandwich back together and lay in the base of the serving bowl, cutting to fit as necessary.
Scatter ⅔ of the raspberries over the sponge, reserving the rest for decoration.
Next spoon the sherry over the sponge and raspberries.
Spoon the custard over the top, smoothing the surface.
Chill for at least one hour.
Whip the cream until it just holds its shape and dollop spoonfuls over the custard but this time don’t smooth the top.
Decorate with the reserved raspberries and toasted almonds.
Just before serving dust the top with icing/powdered sugar.
For chocoholics in the family, this is a delectable chocolate cake. The chocolate flavoured sponge is very light and and the chocolate icing is a little fudgy and is used as a filling too. Of course, you have to finish it off with more chocolate, and slivers of chocolate are used decorate the top. The only non-chocolate addition is apricot jam that is used before adding the icing and this makes it more moist.
good quality plain/dark chocolate for the decoration
You will also need 2 x 20 cm (8 inch) sandwich tins, base-lined and greased.
For the sponge
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
Blend the cocoa powder with the hot water in a small bowl and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, sift the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl. (Either use a free-standing mixer or electric hand mixer.) Add the butter, sugar, and eggs. Then drizzle the cooled cocoa mixture over the top. Beat for 2 minutes until creamy.
Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and level the tops. Bake towards the top of the oven on the same shelf for 35–40 minutes. The cakes should have shrunk slightly from the sides of the tin and will spring back when lightly pressed with a forefinger.
Leave in the tins for 2 minutes then carefully remove, peeling off the lining, and cool on a wire rack.
For the filling, icing, and decoration
Place the chocolate for the decoration in the refrigerator to become cold as it will be easier to work with.
Now for the filling and icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl.
Put the butter in a medium-sized pan and melt over a low heat. As soon as it has melted, mix in the cocoa powder and cook over a very low heat for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the milk. Add the icing/powdered sugar a couple of spoonfuls at a time, beating well between each addition. You may not need all the sugar. Just add enough to make a coating consistency.
Leave to cool a little while preparing the apricot glaze.
You can buy apricot glaze in a jar in the U.K. which is ready to use, so just warm through about 6 tablespoons. In Canada, not being able to find apricot glaze, I use apricot jam. Add 1 tablespoon of hot water to 6 tablespoons of apricot jam to thin it a little, and gently heat to warm through. The jam will now be of a consistency to pass through a sieve to remove any pieces of fruit.
Invert one of the sponge layers and place on a serving plate. Using a palette knife, carefully coat the top with about a quarter of the glaze, then top with two good tablespoonfuls of the icing. Spread evenly over the jam.
Place the second cake on top and gently press down. Spread the sides and top with the remaining glaze using just enough to coat. Then spread the remaining icing over the whole cake.
Remove the chocolate from the refrigerator and, over a plate, pull a potato peeler along the long smooth edge. This will make tiny slivers of chocolate. You will need about 28 g (1 oz). Scatter these on top of the cake to decorate.