Death by chocolate

200g butter, softened (I use salted)

350g soft light brown sugar

seeds of ½ vanilla pod or ½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp Camp coffee essence (optional)

6 medium eggs (at room temperature)

280g wholemeal or regular self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

60g cocoa powder

210g crème fraîche (at room temperature)

FOR THE CHOCOLATE FROSTING

120g dark chocolate, melted

180g butter, softened

375g icing sugar

2 tbsp double cream

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE DRIZZLE

140ml double cream

140g dark chocolate, roughly chopped, plus extra for grating

EQUIPMENT

3 x 20cm round cake tins

stand mixer or hand-held electric whisk (optional)

1 Preheat the oven to 180C (fan 160C/350F/gas 4) and line the tins with baking parchment.

2 Put all the ingredients for the sponge in a bowl and whisk well until combined. You can do this in a stand mixer or using a hand-held electric whisk. You can also do this by hand, but it does take time and lots of elbow grease! Using a spatula, divide the mixture among the lined tins, smoothing down the tops.

3 Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cakes are springy to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre of each cake comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the tins, then turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

4 When the cakes have cooled, mix together the chocolate frosting ingredients. I use my stand mixer with a paddle attachment and beat it for a good 5 minutes, until light and spreadable. You can do this by hand but it will take longer.

5 Smear a little of the frosting on your cake stand or plate – just a splodge to secure the first sponge. Place a cake layer on top and spread it with a little more frosting. Cover with another cake layer and more frosting.

6 Top with the remaining cake layer, flipping it over so that the flat side of the cake is now at the top (see tips below). Very lightly press all the cake layers together, then use a palette knife to spread the remaining frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake so that the sides are nice and straight and the top is flat. I like to do a thin layer first for a crumb-coating and place the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes for this layer to firm up, then take the cake from the freezer and add another thicker layer of the chocolate frosting, having a good play around with the palette knife so that it is really smooth. Sometimes it helps to run the knife under warm water and then carry on smoothing the frosting. Leave it to set a little while you make the ganache drizzle.

7 Heat the cream in a pan until it is just steaming, but don’t boil it. Take the pan off the heat and add the chocolate, leaving it to melt for a few minutes, then stir the chocolate gently and let it cool down a little. Pour the chocolate ganache drizzle over the cake so that it forms a smooth layer all over the top and then drips nicely down the sides of the cake. Grate over the chocolate and serve.

TIPS I like to flip the top cake over, so that you end up with a good flat base for frosting the top. For a clean finish, don’t press down too much on the cakes as you’re frosting, as this can cause the filling to bulge out between each cake layer.

Lorraine xxx

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