Let’s talk about birthdays. I love birthdays – not just my own! I always find it incredibly stressful buying presents, especially at university. It’s really easy to get presents for your good friends as you know them but if you don’t know the person as well, what do you do? I have found that baking someone a personalised birthday cake just for them is a perfect replacement as it shows you are willing to put in a lot of effort for the person and you can tailor the cake to that persons tastes. The chocolate and orange cake in this recipe is a perfect example of this. I first made this cake during exam season last year during a large gap between exams when I was stress baking. I ended up giving most of it away as not only do I stress bake but my appetite goes down so I don’t want to eat what I make! One of my friends has just turned 22 and I ended up remaking it as his birthday cake as he really liked it last time.
This cake is wonderful as the syrup keeps it nice and moist and can give a bit of a kick if that’s what you want. It is also super adaptable as you don’t have to add the ganache which does make the whole cake a little easier to make or alternatively, you can cover the entire cake in the ganache for a beautiful shiny finish. You can also just not include the chocolate for a lovely orange cake which you can decorate with candied peel and piping work.
I like to make my own decorations for cakes which can be themed to the event the cake is for. For the cake in this recipe, I made mini orange meringues. This was more to test out the new Aga than to use meringues as decorations but luckily, they worked really well so I was able to use them on the cake. The other decoration (the chocolate nest) was made by piping tempered chocolate into a glass of Bacardi which had been in the freezer for a few hours. This meant that the chocolate set immediately into beautiful winding 3D shapes which I could then place on the cake.
The recipe below doesn’t include the decorations however I will do a post about different types of decorations in the next few weeks.
For the Cake:
280g (10 oz.) Butter
280g (10 oz.)Sugar
280g (10 oz.) Plain Flour
5 tsp baking powder
Rind of 1 Orange
1 tsp Orange Extract
For the Syrup:
Juice of one orange
50 g sugar
¼ cup water
Triple sec/Cointreau (optional)
For the Icing:
375g Icing sugar (sifted)
150g Dark Chocolate
2 tbsp Cocoa
1 tsp Orange Extract
For the Ganache
150g Dark Chocolate
150ml Double Cream
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (1800C) and line three 8 inch baking trays.
Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the grated orange rind and the orange extract and beat again.
Add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of flour for each egg beating after each addition.
Pour in the rest of the flour and beat until just combined.
Pour into the baking tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
While the cakes are cooling, you can make the syrup and the icing.
For the syrup, combine all the ingredients – excluding the alcohol – in a pan.
Bring to a boil making sure that all the sugar has dissolved and then remove the pan from the heat and leave the syrup to cool. Then add the triple sec.
For the icing, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy.
Add the sifted icing sugar a bit a time and beat until the icing is smooth and glossy.
Add the orange extract and cocoa and beat again.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave remembering to stir every 20 seconds to prevent it burning!
Pour the chocolate in and beat again. Do not do this with the beaters running as they will just knock the chocolate onto the sides of the bowl which is not particularly useful…
To assemble the cake, attach the first layer to the cake board or plate with a tiny amount of icing.
Brush a layer of syrup onto the top of the cake to keep it moist and then add a layer of buttercream
Repeat with the next two layers adding them upside down to give a smooth top to the cake.
Cover the entire cake in a thinnish layer of buttercream – there should be just enough left to do this without the cake peeking through too much!
Place the cake in the fridge for a few hours to firm up the buttercream before adding the ganache
For a raindrop look, heat up the cream in a pan and add to the dark chocolate in a bowl.
Leave for at least two minutes for the chocolate to melt and then stir until combined.
When the ganache is at room temperature, pour it into the centre of the cake and spread it evenly over the top of the cake.
Using a spoon or a piping bag, pour some extra ganache over the edges of the cake and let it run down the side.
To coat the cake completely in ganache, double the quantities in the recipe.
Decorate the cake with chocolate and orange decorations.
Let me know if you try this at yourselves and pop a photo across or tag me on Instagram at thatcookingthing! I love seeing what you guys create at home.
Have a good one and I’ll see you next Monday with a recipe for the cheesiest macaroni cheese you will ever eat and believe me, it is stunningly good!