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layered celebration cake

August 9, 2009

There is an unspoken rule in my household: Where there is celebration, there is cake. To be honest, in practice, it translates more accurately as “Where there is anyone living in this house, there is cake”, but that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. And so, I bring you cake today. And because there is more than one reason for celebration, I bring you a giant, somewhat unnecessarily complicated layered cake. Because, hey! If the Bean’s birthday warrants a triple deckered marble cake carved into the shape of a sombrero, surely a trifecta of the one-hundredth post on onebitemore and a combination not one, but two birthdays (being the father’s and oh-yes-I-forgot-to-mention-my-birthday-happened-while-I-was-in-Malaysia) warrants a really, really big one… right?

layered chocolate cake

It was not supposed to be such a large cake. I was going to make small layered cakes, about 15cm in diameter, with melt-in-your-mouth layers of chocolate sponge and a striking pistachio and orange blossom cream. Oh, and a glossy chocolate ganache to top it all off.

But, like with most things in life, I got carried away into a world where making two flavours of cake and that very same cream would match fantastically with a butterscotch pear insert a-la-that-Zumbo-mousse-cake, and what-the-heck-I’ll-just-start-and-see-where-I-end-up. So I started. And, some hours later (including a trip to the airport and a pit stop at Chat Thai), I was done. And I was so damn tired that I didn’t even want to look at the stupid thing.

But I had to, because we were using it to celebrate belated birthdays that night. And as I tasted it, all of my aches and pains started to disappear. The frustration and cussing were replaced with an odd serenity. And I knew that, despite all the parts in the cake that I thought weren’t quite right, that together, it worked.

Which, to take advantage of that little segue, is somewhat like the story of this blog. There’s bits that break all the time. Posts that I’m not quite happy with, pictures that I shake my head at in disbelief. But somehow, it just works, and doing this – well, it makes me happy (despite all the hair-tearing and cussing that may happen behind the scenes). So thanks for being part of the ride so far, cos it’s sure been nice to have your company.

Layered Celebration Cake

Road Map:

1. Make the cakes & let them cool.

2. Make the butterscotch insert & stick it in the freezer.

3. Make the bitter chocolate ganache-y buttercream.

4. Make the pistachio cream.

5. Piece it all together.

6. Eat.

Making the Chocolate Cake

layered chocolate cake

You will need:

250g butter
250g sugar
4 eggs
4tbsp (60g) cocoa powder
190g self-raising flour (2C less 4tbsp)
4tbsp (60ml) water

How to:

Cream the butter and the sugar until all of the sugar is incorporated into the butter and it has taken on a pale yellow colour. Add one egg and a tablespoon of flour and incorporate thoroughly. Repeat with the other three eggs. Sift the remaining flour and cocoa powder and mix it into the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Add water and stir until it is consistent in texture.

Preheat your oven to 150C and grease a 26cm round springform tin. Tip the mixture into the tin, smooth out the top, and bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out cleanly. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in its tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Making the Vanilla & Orange Blossom Cake

You will need:

125g butter
125g sugar
2 eggs
125g (1C) self-raising flour
2tbsp (60ml) water
1/4tsp orange blossom water
1/2tsp vanilla

How to:

Follow the same method as for the chocolate cake, adding the vanilla & orange blossom water in just before the eggs. Use a 23cm round springform tin to bake this cake.

Making the Butterscotch Pear Insert:

butterscotch pears and ginger

You will need:

2 large pears
200g sugar
75g butter (cubed)
40g glace ginger

How to:

Peel and dice your pears into a 1 to 2cm cube. Cut your glace ginger into a 5mm cube. Put the sugar into a dry saucepan and stir over heat until it is a deep golden caramel colour. Toss the butter in (be careful! It may spit!) and stir until it is all incorporated. Now toss your pears and ginger in and let the mixture simmer over a low heat until the pears are translucent and give easily when prodded with a fork.

Take the mixture off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Transfer the mixture into a container and pop it in the freezer until needed.

Making the Chocolate Ganache-y Buttercream

chocolate and cream

You will need:

200g dark chocolate, chopped
125ml cream
180g butter, softened and cubed

How to:

Put the cream in a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Once it hits boiling point, remove from heat. Put your chopped chocolate into a heat-proof bowl and pour the hot cream over the top. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes and then whisk the mixture together until it is smooth.

Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Using a stand or hand held mixer, beat the butter in a little bit at a time until it is fully incorporated. Cover the mixture so it doesn’t dry out and leave it at room temperature (not in the fridge!) until you need to use it.

Making the Pistachio Cream:

pistachio cream

You will need:

300ml cream
100g pistachios

How to:

Grind your pistachios to a fine meal in a food processor. Whip your cream. Combine the two.

Assembling your cake:

assembling a layer cake

Step One:

Take your (fully cooled) chocolate cake and put your (also fully cooled) orange blossom & vanilla cake on top of it, in the centre. Trim the chocolate cake so that it is the same size as the other cake. Save the cuttings (ie do not eat them… yet). No cut the chocolate cake horizontally into two circles. These will form the bottom and top layers. Place one circle onto your serving dish. Cut strips of greaseproof paper and wedge them in under the cake. This will save you much headache when trying to clean the serving dish post-decoration and pre-serving.

Step Two:

Spread 1/3 of your pistachio cream over the base layer, using big swooping motions with your spatula. This will make you feel accomplished.

assembling a layer cake

Step Three:

Lay your Vanilla & Orange Blossom Cake down on top of the pistachio cream layer, pressing down slightly. You want the cakes to stick. You don’t want the cream to come oozing out the sides. Got it? Cool beans.

Step Four:

Repeat step two. Add extra dollops of cream around the perimeter of the cake. Remember those chocolate cake scraps? Break them up into bits and wedge them around the perimeter, smooshing them into the cream to form a boundary wall.

assembling a layer cake

Step Five:

Pull your butterscotch pears out of the freezer and wrangle as much of it as you can into the recess in the middle of your chocolate cake and pistachio cream wall. Spread it out a bit. It will be sticky, but viscous.

Step Six:

Spread the rest of the pistachio cream on the top of the chocolate cake wall and the bottom surface of the remaining chocolate cake. Place this on top of the lot.

layer cake covered in buttercream

Step Seven:

Use your chocolate ganache-y buttercream to cover the entire cake in a layer of tastiness. The easiest way to do this is to ice the sides first, dump the remainder on the top and smooth that out last.

Step Eight:

Slump back into a pile of tired and cranky. Take a shower. Have some dinner. Cut yourself a slice of cake. Relax.

Alternatively, dig in straight away and save the cranky for another time.

chocolate layer cake


  • #1
    August 9th, 2009

    Save me some!!

  • #2
    August 9th, 2009

    yum. better than adriano zumbo choc mousse choc perhaps!

  • #3
    August 9th, 2009

    Hee hee this was awesomecake ^^! Wish I had stolen some though…

  • #4
    August 9th, 2009

    woohoo! happy 100 posts dude! here’s to another 100!

  • #5
    August 9th, 2009

    Wow! Very impressive. Nice job. Looks delicious.

  • #6
    August 9th, 2009

    That is one sexy sexy cake haha! I bet it tasted awesome, I’m always scared to do layer cakes because I’m a messy baker, you make it look so neat and pretty! Oh and Congrats on 100 posts! πŸ˜€

  • #7
    August 10th, 2009

    Happy 100 posts! And ooh why does the sound of a chocolate and cream boundary wall excite me so πŸ™‚

  • #8
    August 10th, 2009

    Can I order one of these for my birthday ? I particularly like the butterscotch layer.

  • #9
    August 10th, 2009

    Great way to cap off 100 posts. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to try this cake out.

    Didn’t know it was either of your birthdays so Happy belated birthday to your father and you πŸ™‚

  • #10
    August 10th, 2009

    Oh wowowow! It must have taken you forever to make this! But it seems to reward all the efforts you put into it: it looks wonderful!

  • #11
    August 10th, 2009

    Congrats on 100 posts! Your blog is lovely and you are both deserving of such a great cake!

  • #12
    August 11th, 2009

    Hooorrraaaay for 100 posts!
    hmm layers of yumminess – I like the green color of the pistachio cream!

  • #13
    August 11th, 2009

    @Lex: There’s half a cake in my freezer, give me a call before you head over πŸ™‚

    @Simon: I wouldn’t go that far, but I’m fairly proud of it nonetheless!

    @FFichiban: You should have! I thought no-one wanted it so took it home with me.

    @chocolatesuze: Thanks! And here’s to another couple of inches round the waistline. Heee!

    @Anita: Thank you πŸ™‚

    @Steph: Ahh! I’m so sorry about the pistachios, I would have made a nut-less version if I thought I’d be bringing it over πŸ™

    @Helen: More so when breaking said wall results in a river of overflowing butterscotchy goodness right?

    @Howard: Maybe. I could come up with something else? Don’t like to do the same cake too many times πŸ™‚

    @Simon: Thanks. The father was suitably confused and humored by the thought of the internet wishing him a happy birthday.

    @Karine: It did, but mainly because I kept going off places to do things and coming back later to finish it! And thank you πŸ™‚

    @Belle: Thanks dearie! That’s so kind of you to say.

    @Yas: I like green too. I think that’s why I like pistachios. Simple, but true.

  • #14
    August 11th, 2009

    OMG Your version looks fantastic! I Love the pistachio cream layer, looks soo good. Btw Congrats on 100 posts! definitely a cause for celebration

  • #15
    BEAN
    August 13th, 2009

    BEST!

  • #16
    October 26th, 2011

    Wedding Decorating…

    […]layered celebration cake | onebitemore[…]…

  • #17
    October 28th, 2011

    fun birthday ideas…

    […]layered celebration cake | onebitemore[…]…

  • #18
    October 5th, 2012

    I needed to thank you for this good read!

    ! I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it. I have got you book marked to look at new
    things you postÂ…

Shez