"I nearly ate my fingers off," was what I heard before my producer had even rounded the corner and stepped into my edit suite.
"That cake! Oh my God! Blah went to get a cup of tea, but I couldn't even wait, I just started eating it!" was the rest of her explanation.
So how's that for a tagline, The Cake That Causes You To Turn To Self Cannibalism Because You Can't Stop Eating It Even When It's Finished. Yeah, that's catchy!
Truthfully, it's just the combination of flavour favourites all combined with some clever eye-catching finishing that makes this cake so delicious.
Nutella. Hell yes.
Ferrero Rocher Garnish. Get in mah belly!
It really is quite a simple cake, I haven't done anything unusual to the recipe or swapped any ingredients, it is what it is, and what that is, is a rich and dense Devil's Food Cake sandwiched together with Italy's best export since my friend Giuseppe, Nutella, which is then frosted with a dark and white chocolate buttercream, all nicely blended on the sides, and topped off with some nutty balls ie. Ferrero Rocher.
See? Simple. No really, it is.
I'm not normally one for simple buttercream, it can be cloyingly sweet, especially when piled too high on a cupcake, but I actually really like it on a Devil's Food Cake. It's not a particularly sweet cake and it's quite rich from the cocoa and coffee, so in this instance, simple buttercream adds the sweetness that's missing in the cake itself.
As for the cake, this is a eat-with-milk cake. The sponge is somewhat dense but beautifully moist. It's a cake that you need to wash down with a glass of ice cold moo juice or a cup of coffee. And if you're weird, a cup of tea. (Tea. My nemesis.)
And I don't even need to justify the use of Nutella in this cake, or any cake for that matter!
This hefty three layer chocolate lover's wet dream will feed, at the very least, twelve people, more if you're a bit more sensible. But I won't judge if maybe you just disappear with a fork and the whole cake into a dark corner somewhere. Just saying.
So get your glass of milk ready, this one's gonna need it!
And now, week 5 of the Great Irish Bake Off!
This post contains spoilers.
(Okay, maybe that's getting a little old now.)
You can catch up on my GIBO reviews here, but for a quick recap, youngest baker Laura was sent home in episode 1. Then we said goodbye to a quiet Daire in ep 2 and Tom in ep 3. Last week there was a nasty double elimination, Stephen and Bridget both left the tent, leaving us with seven bakers taking on chocolate week.
And before I start, I just have to say how difficult it's getting for me to critique everyone's bakes. Apart from getting to know the contestants by watching the show, I've also been in contact with all of them via Twitter and Facebook, so now they're not just anonymous faces on my screen, but real people who I really like. I don't want to say anything bad about anyone's bakes, but sadly I have to. Unfortunately, this week they did let me down a little bit and I have a few negatives to point out, but as the competition gets harder, so must the judging!
Week five started off with a Signature Bake round and the contestants were asked to bake any chocolate cake they liked.
Sadly, or not that sadly for me, I just hate the combination of orange and chocolate, so anyone with this combo was not going to get my vote.
It figures that the very first cake we saw was Oonagh's Chocolate Orange Cake. Sorry, Oonagh, it's not you, it's me. I'm just not ready for this kind of flavour relationship. But I'm sure your cake was lovely and will find someone out there who will appreciate it the way it deserves.
The cake that did grab my attention, however, was Stephen's. Stephen was doing a jaconde imprime for his chocolate cake. If that means nothing to you, don't worry, the only reason I happen to even know what it is, never mind having actually used this technique, is because it was a Daring Baker challenge back in 2011. It's not really something a home baker would know to do, although it isn't actually that difficult. I'll give you the technical definition:
A joconde imprime (French Baking term) is a decorative design baked into a light sponge cake providing an elegant finish to desserts/torts/entremets formed in ring moulds. A joconde batter is used because it bakes into a moist, flexible cake. The cake batter may be tinted or marbelised for a further decorative effect.
Basically, you can pipe a design onto a silicon mat or something similar with the décor paste, you pop that in the freezer so that it firms completely, then you spread a different coloured batter over your design and bake it. Once it's baked, you peel your sponge off and reveal the design on the smooth side, this sponge is really flexible and then easy to use as a collar around your cake. It's pretty nifty, I say it's worth a try! And in terms of doing this in a Bake Off challenge, well, it's actually quite simple, but looks really impressive and shows another level of skill and technique, I really wanted to see how Stephen's cake looked at the end.
The other cakes I was interested in were Maryanne's Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut and Praline, Barbara's Chocolate Pistachio Flourless Cake, and Jarek's White Chocolate Ganache Cake, only because white chocolate can be fiercely sweet so I wondered what he was planning on doing to balance the flavours.
We weren't short of mishaps in the Signature Bake. Maryanne forgot to put sugar into her cake batter, and I would like to see Aoife's milk chocolate ganache recipe because the ratios looked completely wrong, she basically ended up with chocolate milk that would have taken a good week to set up, if it would set at all. Barbara didn't so much as have a mishap rather than a moment of Hulking out with her green hands.
And then we went back to Maryanne who forgot to put her praline in between her cake layers, doh!
But then she did something that I would have done, instead of adding the praline a different way, like on the outside as Maryanne herself had voiced, no, she pulled her cake apart so she could put it where it should have been in the first place. Here, here, Maryanne! I'd do the same. Well, maybe not in the Bake Off tent, but I understand your need for cake perfection.
I must say, I wasn't very impressed with the appearances of the majority of the cakes this week, if they weren't messy, they were amateurish, if not that, just not Bake Off impressive. Oonagh said it of her own cake, it looked like her son had helped to decorate it. And she wasn't wrong.
But as for what the judges thought, Jarek was first up with his White Chocolate Ganache Cake, which was one of the not so impressive looking ones, and although both Paul and Biddy mostly enjoyed it, Paul recommended adding a flavour like orange to cut through the sweetness. You know my feelings about chocolate and orange, but I would have to agree. I love my white chocolate, but Jarek's cake looked as though it would send your teeth cowering in fear of too much sweet.
Stephen's jaconde imprime collar wasn't too bad, although it looked quite thick. Apart from the collar, Paul pretty much voiced what I thought, his cake looked a bit messy and I think he may need to brush up on his piping skills. But, what he lacked in design he made up for in flavour. His layers looked lovely and the judges were very happy with the textures and flavours.
Barbara's cake looked lovely! A little uneven here and there, but overall, it looked delicious, the way a cake should. The bright green ground pistachios around the sides of the cake looked great, as did the glazed berries on top. I even liked the bright green marzipan leaves. When cut into, her cake looked exactly like a flourless cake should. Super dense, super moist. It's an easy mistake to bake a flourless cake for too long which then dries it out, but Barbara had it spot on. Paul and Biddy were both very happy with it, saying it was rich and super moist and not overly sweet. I think Biddy would happily have gone for a second helping.
Aoife's "ganache" really did let her down, the look of her cake was rather dismal. Paul said it looked as though she'd put a melting cake into the fridge and it set mid-melt, and he wasn't far wrong. But, like with Stephen, her flavours made up for the shoddy outside.
Maryanne's cake turned out beautifully, even after deconstruction and reconstruction. She had a beautiful chocolate glaze over her cake with a simple but elegant design piped onto the top. It was a classy looking cake. "Even before I bite into this now, I'm excited about that. That's really important for me..." Paul's words summed up Maryanne's cake perfectly. It looked amazing, and then delivered in taste. Getting the crunch of the praline in between the layers paid off, and on a whole, Maryanne baked an amazing cake.
Overall, the judges weren't impressed with the contestants this week. Although most of them had good flavours, the presentation was shoddy, and at this stage in the Bake Off, it's just not good enough.
On to the dreaded Technical Bake! We'd seen a tease of this week's Technical, so we knew it was going to be a tough one, especially compared to last week, but hells bells, Paul really threw them far into the deep end with this one. The amount of food jargon that Anna threw at them, well, let's just say I would have been petrified hearing all of that. Oh, and they were only given 2h15min for the challenge that had seven elements to it. What the....?!
Paul's example looked phenomenal, if any of the bakers managed to get theirs even halfway as presentable, Star Baker to them!
After last week's Custard Gate, the crème anglais base of the bavarois had the bakers unsettled from the very start. From forgetting to add the cream (Aoife) to forgetting to add a second leaf of gelatine to the milk and white chocolate mixtures (Oonagh and Barbara), I honestly did not envy their places in the tent on this one.
In between worrying about getting the bavois layers exactly the same, they had to worry about tuilles, biscuit and jelly.
I've used agar agar quite a bit, especially in my jelly shot filled cocktail cupcakes, but this gelling agent was another annoyance for everyone. Unlike gelatine, agar sets at room temperature, which is brilliant when you want to serve a gelled dessert and not have it refrigerated, but if you're not expecting it to set so quickly, it can be frustrating. (Quick tip though, just heat your mixture up, and try again!)
I know this post is getting long, but this Technical Bake really had so many different moments that I just loved. My favourite, though, was the tuiles. A tuile is supposed to be paper thin and crispy, but when almost all of the tuiles coming out of the oven looked like... mud pies, all thick and not crispy at all, it actually made me laugh. It's possible that they'd all expected the batter to thin out and spread in the oven.
Quenelles done and everyone plated up, it was interesting to see the different approaches to presenting their desserts. This was no apple pudding!
Aoife was up first. Although she had a few air bubbles in between her layers, they were quite even and the dessert itself was lovely and smooth.
Will's layers were somewhat messy and not even and the dessert had set too firm, the jelly was also too thick for Paul's liking.
Barbara, Stephen and Jarek also had uneven layers.
Years of pouring chemical stuff carefully into beakers helped Maryanne's desserts, each glass was consistent and the layers were even and smooth. Although she had too much crumble and the jelly was a little too thick, her dessert was good.
Oonagh went 180° with her presentation and made a beautiful looking dessert, also with even layers. The judges also enjoyed the textures. She also had the closest attempt to a tuille.
I actually had to re-watch the scoring because I thought I heard it wrong the first time. Maryanne was in seventh place. What? There were worse than hers, even with Biddy's explanation I didn't know how Maryanne had come last.
And well deserved, Oonagh won the technical bake! She really did a brilliant job with it, well done!
At the end of the deliberation that we didn't see (that really bugs me!) Aoife was given the title of Star Baker as she was the most improved of the contestants. Nicely done!
And finally, leaving the tent this week was Jarek. From his performance this week I could understand why. But sadly, we are left without any hilarious comedians in the show! I hope one of the other contestants steps in to keep us laughing.
Well done Aoife! And sorry to see you go, Jarek!
So, next week we're going to see the contestants crumble under pastry pressure, looks like a good one!
Here's my chocolate cake recipe, I hope you enjoy it.
Chocolate Nutella Cake
Makes a 3 layer 8" cake
|180ml||6fl oz||¾ cup||Strong Hot Coffee, instant or brewed|
|90g||3oz||¾ cup||Cocoa Powder, sifted|
|165g||6oz||¾ cup (1½ sticks)||Unsalted Butter, softened|
|400g||14oz||2 cups||Granulated White or Golden Sugar|
|315g||11oz||2½ cups||Plain Flour|
|250ml||9fl oz||1 cup||Buttermilk|
|1 tsp||1 tsp||1 tsp||Baking Soda|
|1 tsp||1 tsp||1 tsp||Baking Powder|
|½ tsp||½ tsp||½ tsp||Salt|
|1 tsp||1 tsp||1 tsp||Vanilla Extract|
1 small jar Nutella, for assembling
White & Dark Chocolate Basic Buttercream (below) for assembling
Ferrero Rocher Hazelnut Truffles, optional (but strongly advised!)
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F
- Grease and flour 3x 8" pans and line the bottom with parchment paper
- Whisk together coffee and cocoa and a small bowl, cover bowl with clingfilm and set aside
- Sift together flour, bicarb and baking powder, set aside
- Measure out buttermilk and mix with vanilla extract, set aside
- In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and salt
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating each egg in thoroughly and scraping the side of the bowl before adding the next egg
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until combined
- Add 1/2 of the buttermilk and mix until combined
- Repeat, ending with the last of the flour mixture
- Add the cocoa and coffee mixture and mix until thoroughly combined
- Divide equally into prepared cake tins
- Bake for 25-35mins or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean
- Allow to cool thoroughly on wire racks before filling and frosting
- Position a sponge layer in the middle of your serving plate
- Tip: Trim the top of the sponge so that it's relatively flat
- Pipe buttercream border on the inside edge of the sponge
- Spread half of the Nutella over the cake, keeping within the border
- Tip: The buttercream border helps to keep the Nutella from squashing out once layers are stacked
- Place the next sponge layer directly on top, making sure that it's perfectly aligned with the bottom sponge
- Repeat the buttercream and Nutella steps, using the remainder of the Nutella on this sponge
- Position the last sponge on top and make sure it's perfectly aligned
- Chill for 15 - 20mins, just so that the buttercream borders between the layers firm up which will help with frosting the cake
- Once chilled, frost cake with a very thin crumb coating, just enough to trap any stray crumbs
- Chill in the fridge until the crumb coating it firm to the touch
- Frost your cake generously with white and dark chocolate buttercream and top with Ferrero Rocher chocolate truffles
- Tip: I've included links at the end of the post with a video tutorial on doing the blended frosting technique that I used
White and Dark Chocolate Basic Buttercream
|285g||10oz||1¼ cup (2½ sticks)||Unsalted Butter, softened|
|625g||22oz||5 cups||Icing Sugar, sifted|
|5 Tbsp||5 Tbsp||5 Tbsp||Milk or Cream|
|½ tsp||½ tsp||½ tsp||Salt|
|1 tsp||1 tsp||1 tsp||Vanilla Extract|
|50g||2oz||2oz||Good Quality Dark Chocolate (70%)|
|50g||2oz||2oz||Good Quality White Chocolate|
- Melt the white and dark chocolate in separate bowls and leave to cool to room temp
- In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth
- Add the salt, vanilla, 3 cups of the powdered sugar and 3 Tbsp milk or cream and beat in, starting with mixer on low, then increasing the speed, until thoroughly mixed
- Add remaining powdered sugar and milk/cream and mix until thoroughly combined and you have a smooth and firm but spreadable frosting
- Tip: You may need to add more milk/cream depending on your climate, add 1 Tbsp at a time until you reach a good spreadable consistency
- Set aside 1/3 of the buttercream in a separate bowl
- Pour melted white chocolate into the 2/3 of frosting and beat on low until mixed in
- Pour the melted dark chocolate into the remaining 1/3 of frosting and beat on low until thoroughly mixed
Follow this link to Watch Sweetapolita's blended buttercream tutorial.
Just a quick note about my GIBO blog series...
Just to be clear, I do not represent GIBO in any official manner, I'm doing this purely in my own capacity as a baking obsessed blogger who loves the Bake Off franchise. Although, I have been given permission to use certain official photos etc. which is pretty cool. But TV3 will have their own official GIBO website running, sponsored by Odlums, and they'll have loads of great content like recipes from the series and more, so check it out.