Tag Archives: sour cream

The Ultimate, Award Winning(!) Chocolate Raspberry Cake

17 Mar

It’s been a good week.

Reason One: Remember those job interviews I mentioned? I went to the first one, and I GOT IT. Huzzah! This is an excellent thing; jobs mean a reason to get up in the morning and, of course, money. And money equals the ability to finally start planning for The Husband and I to move into our own place. Oh, yes!

Reason Two: Do you also remember that I told you I’d ordered the new cookbook by the amazing Marian Keyes? It arrived, and it’s AMAZING. There are so many things in there that I’m desperate to try. I honestly can’t wait to have an excuse to get baking! Seriously, get your hands on this if you can. Not only is it a treasure trove of awesome recipes, but it’s also scattered with honest, witty, hilarious, devastating and heartbreaking insights into her battle with depression. As someone who has had to deal with and continues to deal with similar, though markedly milder, mental health issues, I cannot recommend this enough to everyone.

Reason Three: Finally, do you remember me saying that I had another reason to bake last week? Well, here it is. I entered a cake baking competition. Not something I’ve ever done or even considered doing before, but it all went fantastically well. My friend Jo and I discovered that Bodiam Castle, which is only about 1.5 hours away from where we live, was holding the competition. We’re both not-so-secret history geeks, so this seemed like the perfect excuse to drive out there – bake a cake, drop it off, fill in an entry form and then wander around the castle for the rest of the afternoon. Perfection!

What I WASN’T expecting was to win. YES, WIN. Me. I pretty much never win anything, so it came as a huge shock to me!

I’ll apologise in advance for the state of my photography in this entry; it was all a bit rushed and pictures were being snapped as I flung myself around the kitchen in a desperate bid to assemble the cake before we had to leave.


For the cake:

400g dark chocolate

400g butter

2 tbsp instant coffee

170g self raising flour

170g plain flour

1⁄2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

400g dark brown sugar

400g castor sugar

60g cocoa powder

6 medium eggs

170ml sour cream

250g raspberries

curled/shaved/grated white chocolate, to decorate

curled/shaved/grated dark chocolate, to decorate

For the ganache:

230g dark chocolate

260ml double pouring cream

2 tbsp castor sugar

Grease and line two 10 inch cake tins and preheat the oven to 140 degrees Celsius (fan oven) or 160 degrees Celsius (conventional oven) (280 degrees Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 2). Meanwhile, break up the dark chocolate into pieces and place in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the broken up chocolate, then mix the coffee into 250ml of cold water and add to the saucepan. Heat over a low heat until everything is just melted, stirring occasionally to help combine.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the self-raising flour, plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, brown sugar, castor sugar and cocoa powder, combining with your hands to remove all the lumps. In another small bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sour cream.

Pour the melted chocolate mixture and the whisked egg and sour cream into the flour mixture, stirring well to combine. The batter should have quite a smooth, runny consistency. Divide the mixture evenly and pour into the two tins, then bake for 85 minutes – 90 minutes, until the top of the cakes are firm and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 10 – 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, make the ganache. Break the dark chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Pour the cream into a saucepan, add the castor sugar, and heat on medium heat until just before it boils. Take the cream off the heat and pour it over the chocolate, leaving it to stand for 1 minute. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Now, assemble the cake. Place one of the cakes on a serving platter and spread one quarter – one third of the ganache over the top, leaving a narrow gap around the perimeter of the cake.

Arrange two thirds of the raspberries over the ganache in a circular pattern, placing them around the outer edge of the cake and working your way in, making smaller and smaller circles of raspberries until you reach the centre of the cake.

Drizzle 2 – 3 tablespoons of ganache lightly over the raspberries.

Next, place 3 heaped tablespoons of ganache on the other cake (on the side which is going to be sandwiched onto the bottom layer) and spread it so that it lightly covers the surface, once again leaving a gap around the perimeter.

Place this cake on top of the first, ganache side down, and press down very gently to sandwich together.

Pour the rest of the ganache over the cake, pushing it towards the edges with the back of a metal spoon and letting it fall down the sides of the cake.

Decorate with grated/curled/shaved dark and white chocolate and top with remaining raspberries in the centre.

That’s it!

After the super quick cake assembly, Jo, The Husband and I all bundled into the car and headed for Bodiam. After a fun filled drive getting completely and utterly lost down the narrow, winding country lanes and wasting a good hour trying to find our way back to the main road, we arrived – cake miraculously intact!

And here’s my trophy!

A big thank you and congratulations goes out to designated driver and fellow competitor Jo, whose cake made it into the final seven!



Baked Berry Cheesecake

8 Dec

Last weekend, The Husband and I had ten people over for dinner as a last hurrah for our house sitting stint at my dad’s place. We got everyone to bring a dish with them for dinner – a sort of potluck arrangement – and we were in charge of dessert. Two nights earlier we’d watched a rerun of an episode from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen series and The Husband (being completely smitten with Nigella, obviously) set his heart on us making her Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake.

It was all settled (and I’m still not totally sure how it happened) but at some point while we were writing up our shopping list for the ingredients, The Husband’s casual suggestion of ‘hey, how awesome would it be if we made TWO cheesecakes?’ suddenly became the plan of action.

I didn’t really fancy making two of the same (because that would make my life far too easy, right?), so I decided to wing it and just make up my own baked cheesecake featuring berries…pretty much because we had strawberries in the fridge and frozen raspberries in the freezer.

And that, my friends, is how we ended up with two baked cheesecakes hurriedly prepared in the space of one afternoon.

The Nigella Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake can be found here, but here is the lovely new…


200g Digestive biscuits (though similar plain biscuits would do)

150g butter, melted

375g cream cheese

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

3 tablespoons plain flour

200ml sour cream

1/2 cup roughly chopped strawberries, washed and hulled

1 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (325 Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 3) and line a 20cm (8 inch) round springform pan with greaseproof baking paper.

Place Digestive biscuits in the food processor and process until finely crushed. Add the butter and process again until well combined. The biscuit mixture should feel slightly damp and should press together and hold easily when pressed down with your fingertips. If it appears too dry, add a little more butter (20g at a time) until it reaches the desired consistency. Pour the biscuit mixture into the lined pan and press down firmly with your fingertips, spreading the mixture to cover the base of the pan. Bake in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes.

In the meantime, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract with an electric mixer to combine. Beat in the flour and then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sour cream until just combined.

Using a wooden spoon, gently fold the strawberries and 2/3 of the frozen raspberries into the batter.

Pour the batter over the base and then gently drop the remaining frozen raspberries evenly over the surface of the mixture.

Bake for 50 minutes (though start checking after 40). The cheesecake is ready when the top is firm and there is a slight wobble in the middle of the cake.

Technically, you ought to let it cool in the oven with the door left ajar for an hour or so to prevent the top from cracking, and then transfer it to the fridge to finishing cooling. Honestly, though, I was in such a rush to get this finished (I pulled it out of the oven ten minutes before our friends arrived) that I let it cool for 20 minutes out of the oven before chucking it in the fridge to get cold. The top cracked (unsurprisingly!), but really…who cares? It tasted absolutely gorgeous, and I’m happy enough with that!

I must apologise for my dodgy photography – it was hard enough to snap a picture before it was devoured completely! You get the idea, though.

Let’s face it; this is by no means the most aesthetically pleasing cheesecake in the world. The top is cracked and the colour could certainly be more vibrant…but honestly? The flavour is ridiculously gorgeous, so it’s easy to overlook the outward imperfections.

The rich, buttery base is beautifully complemented by the smooth, creamy filling studded with sweet strawberries and the slight sharpness of the raspberries. This is the perfect summer dessert – deliciously decadent while still having a fruity kick. Though realistically, is there ever a bad time of year for cheesecake? I think not…

Buttercream & Birthdays

10 Oct

October is a pretty crazy month ’round these parts. It’s my husband’s birthday on the 11th, my birthday on the 13th, my mother-in-law’s birthday on the 15th and my sister’s birthday on the 24th…and that’s leaving out about a million aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents/etc who are also born in October. Something in the water, eh?

So, as it’s my husband’s birthday tomorrow (!), I thought I’d kick off the celebrations with the first birthday cake of the month.

And so, without further ado: a fitting cake for my lovely, adorably geeky gamer husband:

Mario! Do ignore my slightly out of focus camera work. My photography skills are pretty much non-existent.

It’s Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Fudge Cake, and Mario is a buttercream transfer. It was the first time I’d ever attempted a transfer, and it really was ridiculously easy. Time consuming – it took me around an hour (plus two hours of freezing time) to do it, but that’s also due to me working at a ludicrously slow pace because I was so scared of  ruining it! – but simple. I made the transfer before I’d even made the cake so it could freeze while I baked.

Here’s Nigella’s recipe (very slightly adapted – though I do wish I could take credit for the entire thing!):


400g plain flour

250g caster (superfine) sugar

100g dark brown sugar

50g cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

140ml sour cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

125ml canola oil

300ml chilled water


175g dark chocolate

250g  butter, softened

275g icing (powdered) sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (that’s Gas Mark 4 or 350 degrees fahrenheit for all you non-Australians!)

2. Grease and line two 20 centimetre round cake tins.

3. Put the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb soda and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. In another smaller bowl, place the eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract and whisk together. Using an electric mixer (I like my big stand mixer, but hand-held would also work just as well), beat the melted butter and the canola oil until just combined, then beat in the water. Turn the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients all in one go. Then add the egg mixture, mix again (still on low speed) until everything is blended. Pour the mixture into your greased and lined tins.

4. Bake the cakes for 50-55 minutes (though this depends hugely on your oven; mine were done in 45 minutes), testing with a skewer to check that they’re done. When the cakes are ready, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool in their tins for 15 minutes before you turn them onto a wire cake rack and allow them to cool completely.

5. FOR THE ICING, melt the chocolate in a metal or Pyrex bowl sitting over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring constantly and making sure that the bowl is never touching the water. When melted, remove from the heat and leave the chocolate to cool for a couple of minutes.

6. Grab your electric mixer again (after giving it and its bowl a quick clean) and beat the softened butter until it becomes light in colour and has a creamy consistency. Add the sieved icing sugar  to the butter mixture beat it again until it gets light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the melted chocolate and beat on high for a minute or so, until the mixture is thick and glossy (it should be of a spreadable consistency).

7. Use about a quarter to one third of the fudge icing to sandwich the two cakes together, then use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cakes. Don’t bother trying to make the icing look perfect – this kind of frosting begs to be slapped on unevenly.

8. Transfer to a pretty cake stand, and voila! Done and dusted.

Now, the real question is whether I have enough self control to save it for tomorrow…