Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Baking with Baby 11 - The Chocolate One

Well, as you may know, the other week it was The Parents wedding anniversary - the big golden five-oh!

It having fallen to me to make the cake (being the 'awkward' one - with food allergy/intolerance/whatever) I decided to go for a cake with two layers. The bottom one was to be fruit and the top chocolate - for those who aren't that keen on fruit (like 'Baby').

Having leaped right out of my comfort zone, with the fruit cake (see previous post), I must admit I was really tempted to play safe and opt for a cake mix. Usually, I love Hale & Hearty's cake mixes but even though I was running short of time, I opted to do it the hard way and bake from scratch.

I have to say that it could have been a whole lot simpler if I could have managed to bake it without 'Baby' - who these days, being a bit older, is much too vocal and determined for her own good! I had been puzzling over why I hadn't baked much with her recently... setting to work, I soon realised why!

After a fairly extensive search, looking at various gluten and dairyfree recipes, I decided to use a recipe which wasn't either of those. Just by chance, it happened to be another recipe from Delicious Mag, see here.

The main reason I went for it was because it looked simple and I like simple! It was simple - in that pretty much all have to do is just bung all the ingredients in one bowl and mix. Like so:

Don't worry - we didn't do it all by hand!

It was also simple in that it was easy to substitute the dairy products with non-dairy alternatives. We used Pure sunflower margarine instead of butter (which worked well, as it is quite a lot softer than Stork, so was easier to beat), almond milk instead of milk and Hotel Chocolat dark chocolate buttons for the chocolate. Not having the vinegar in the recipe, I just used some white vinegar that I had in the cupboard. 

The other thing I liked about the recipe was that it also involved chocolate - real chocolate! This involved melting. Now, of course, 'Baby' loves chocolate too, and the best way to keep her quiet, I discovered, was to give her a bowl to lick - the one in which I'd melted the chocolate. And she did lick it too - quite literally!

This is not a carefully staged photo - this is what she actually did!

So what did I learn from this one?

Make sure your tin is the right size, before you start (mine wasn't tall enough, so I just made sure the grease proof paper stood taller round the edge of the tin. Which sort of worked.

Looks alright here!

Except this happened:

Oops! Nothing a little judicious trimming can't solve!

Yes... It cracked and burned baby, cracked and burned! So obviously I had to hack the top of the cake off altogether. But the cake needed slicing in half anyway, so this tutorial really came in handy. Only SHE makes it look so smooth, so easy. It aint!! 

Apparently, it's a good idea to leave a cake overnight before trying this - any crusty bits go soft - much easier to cut through! Only I couldn't, 'cos I was strapped for time. Oh, well now I know!

Another thing I discovered was that covering sponge cakes in fondant is a whole lot harder than covering a fruit cake! The fruit cake is a lot more firm, which really helps! Sponge cake moves all over the place. It was a good job I watched this tutorial. Covering the cake with buttercream first definitely helped - hold it together that is! I used Betty Crocker's Buttercream Style icing - it's good stuff! See here!

So, who knew (hands up)? You should always knead regal icing really well to soften it, or it will crack, when you try to lift it it,to place it on the cake. Which happened to me - as you can see in this picture:

The gold colour couldn't cover the cracks!

To be fair, this was going on whilst I was trying to cook dinner and manage a toddler!

I would have lifted the icing off and re-kneaded it... except for the fact that it was now covered in chocolate crumbs and buttercream! I had hoped the icing polisher would do the trick, but it was beyond even its capabilities. So I decided to spray the whole thing gold and hope it would cover the damage, but no! The icing was still cracked - albeit now a fetching shade of gold! 

Loved these products! *

I have to admit, I was bitterly bitterly disappointed!

Instead of following my original plan for decoration (white hearts on gold background) I tried to cover the cake with as much hastily whipped up decoration as I could (with a bit of 'help' from 'Baby'), but still the cracks showed through.

At this stage, I was tempted to ditch the whole chocolate layer altogether, and just stick with the somewhat more classy-looking fruit layer, but... I didn't. I knew the kiddies just wouldn't touch the fruit cake. So I took it anyway, thinking they really wouldn't care if the icing was cracked - they'd be just happy with the chocolate. And, you know I'm glad I did. You see, Family can be ever so forgiving. The Parents were thrilled with the cakes - both of them! Sister Number Two thought I had bought the cakes (what was she thinking???) and the cake which disappeared the fastest?? Yep, the chocolate one!!

Moral of the story: Never underestimate a cracked cake... especially if it's made with chocolate!!

More dairy free baking adventures can be found by following the links on this page.

*I'm not paid, sponsored, endorsed etc. by anyone - all views concerning products are completely and honestly my own!

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