Gastrobabble

A quest for gastro-liberation, an excuse to buy more cookbooks…


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Being spoiled by the ambassador

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Old dog, new tricks. I’ve performed my baking party piece before of turning chocolate bars into swiss rolls (I’m the Sugar Messiah. Urgh gross, never call me that). Today, I’m going full-blown gateaux (which is what my first full-length, high-octane, action feature-film is going to be called).

My induction into baking was induced by an impulse purchase of St Nigella’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess. It’s not one of the most highly used baking tomes in my arsenal but it’s one of the most beloved. The spine is closer to broken than cracked; dollops of butter and batter adorn the pages; and miniature snowdrifts of flour and sugar flurry out of the pages whenever I open my copy. It’s worth reading for the writing alone; it is a paean to the joys, comforts and love of baking for your Dear Ones. Ever since reading it for the first time, over a decade ago, her recipe for her Nutella Cake has been indelibly burnt onto my mental retina.

So when it came time to make a 30th birthday cake recently, I decided to act upon my recent obsession with double cream enriched cream cheese frosting and make a Nigella-Nutella (Nitella? Nugella?) inspired cake which morphed into a cakey-ode to everybody’s favourite Christmas chocolate, the Ferrero Rocher.

Rocher Cake

Okay. First off. I know that’s a LOT of cream but despite that, counterintuitively, this feels like a very light cake. The sponge is moist and on the verge of falling apart. The addition of whipped double cream to the cream cheese frosting adds a frothy lightness which is absent from the comforting denseness of normal cream cheese frosting. The sponge is based on my go-to chocolate cake recipe, taken from The Hummingbird Bakery’s recipe for Brooklyn Blackout Cake. The fatty moreish frosting is an adaptation of the frosting used in Nigella Lawson’s chocolate Guinness cake.

Ingredients

Sponge
100g softened butter
260g caster sugar
2 large eggs
45g cocoa powder
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
A pinch of salt
170g plain flour
200ml double cream
Frangelico or hazelnut extract

Icing
300g full-fat cream cheese
100g softened butter
100ml double cream
200g icing sugar
Frangelico or hazelnut extract

Decoration
Ferrero Rochers
Cocoa powder
Crumbled shortbread
Chopped and toasted hazelnuts

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 170c / gas mark 5 and grease and line two 20in round cake tins.

Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, before adding the eggs one at a time. Once fully combined, add in the cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate and salt and mix again. Add in half of the flour and cream and combine before adding the remaining flour and cream. Add in 2 tablespoons of Frangelico or one teaspoon of hazelnut extract to taste (if you’d like a stronger hazelnut flavour, add more!)

Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30mins, until an inserted knife comes out cleanly. Leave to cool in the tins for 15 minutes before unmoulding onto cooling racks.

Whilst the cakes are cooling, make the icing by firstly beating together the butter until soft and creamy. Add in the cream cheese and slowly mix in, be careful not to overmix as it will warm up and go a bit runny. Alternately add in the icing sugar and double cream and whisk until the icing takes on a whipped consistency. Finally add in Frangelico or hazelnut extract to taste – you want a stronger hazelnut flavour in the icing so be generous! I used approximately 5 or 6 tablespoons of Frangelico.

Sandwich together the two sponges with half of the quantity of the icing and use the rest for the topping. Dust with cocoa powder and decorate with Ferrero Rochers.

Variation
A nice addition to mimic the flavour and texture of Ferrero Rochers would be to also add in a layer of Nutella in the middle with the frosting and then to crumble shortbread and chopped hazelnuts on top instead of cocoa powder.

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