Every 10-year old deserves a cake topped with their body weight in chocolate. I made this birthday cake for my niece, the oldest of three adorable girls, who are all evidence that a sweet tooth is hereditary.
The cake recipe is an adaptation of this honey chocolate cake from the Queen of Chocolate herself, Nigella Lawson. The recipe produces a dark, moist, fudgey cake with a deep chocolate flavour – exactly what you want in a chocolate cake. I added a little cardamom, because it takes all baked good to the next-level without the speed trap effect, and I reduced the sugar in the recipe because of the honey addition. Also, I used the food processor method that she suggests, because I always look for the easy way out.
The frosting was a standard buttercream – made by my sister, because I just couldn’t find the time (and she always has a stash somewhere). My modification was some honey and vanilla. I went for the almost naked cake look with the cake peaking through a thin layer of icing on the sides.
The Katherine Sabbath-inspired drip was a dark chocolate ganache – just dark enough to balance all the sweetness of the cake, but still kid-friendly. The secret to a good drip is to make sure that the frosted cake is cool, so the ganache doesn’t just pool at the bottom. Now all that gleaming glossiness was just the right canvas for piling on all manner of yumminess.
For the topping, I went with a few key philosophies:
- A chocolate coma is the best birthday gift
- More is more, when it comes to chocolate
- It’s not a birthday cake without a few sprinkles.
Very Chocolatey Chocolate Birthday Cake
For the cake: (adapted from Nigella Lawson)
- 100 g dark chocolate, melted
- 200 g brown sugar
- 225 g soft butter
- 125 ml honey
- 2 large eggs
- 200 g flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 250 ml boiling water
For the buttercream:
- 125 g soft butter
- 250 g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-2 tbsp milk
For the ganache:
- 100 ml cream
- 100 g dark chocolate (broken into pieces)
- a little milk to thin (optional)
For the topping: (optional)
- All your favourite chocolate bars, some sprinkles and some edible flowers, or you could leave it plain for an ultra chic look
For the cake:
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line two 18 cm round cake tins (springform tins are recommended).
- In the bowl of a food processor, add all flour, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder and cardamom, and pulse a few times till combined.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, except the boiling water, and process to combine.
- With the motor running, slowly add in the boiling water through the top and process till the mixture is smooth. The batter will be quite thin.
- Pour the batter into the tins and bake for 70-80 minutes, or till a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- Allow to cool completely.
For the buttercream:
- Beat the butter till light and fluffy.
- Gradually add the icing sugar.
- Add the honey and vanilla.
- Add the milk to achieve a soft, spreadable texture.
For the ganache:
- Put the broken chocolate into a heat-proof bowl.
- Heat the cream till just before boiling.
- Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and allow to stand for one minute, then stir vigorously till the ganache is smooth and glossy.
- Add a little milk if necessary to make the mixture slightly thinner.
- Place one layer of cooled cake onto your cake plate or stand, spread the buttercream over it, and then place the second layer on top, spreading more buttercream over the second layer.
- Spread a thin layer of buttercream around the sides of the cake, and add extra buttercream in certain places.
- Put the iced cake in the freezer for about 5 minutes to cool, and warm the ganache slightly if necessary.
- Drop a teaspoon of ganache at a time close to the edges of the cake, and allow it to drip slowly over the edges at selected places. Once the edges are covered, fill the middle of the cake with more ganache.
- Decorate with pieces of chocolate bars, wafer sticks, sprinkles and edible flowers.