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chocolate cake with apricot filling

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Chocolate cake with ganache filling

I have a sweet tooth. In fact I have thirty sweet teeth, one or two wisdom never having materialised. I can always manage dessert or two even without or before a main course. Put a wedge of cheesecake in front of me – it’s a goner. Lemon cakes, fruit cakes, tarts, all meringue stuff, scones, raisin buns – I’ll scoff and look for more.

But I’m not that keen on chocolate cake.

The best chocolate cake

I know – weird. I quite like chocolate, don’t get me wrong, but chocolate cake – meh. Keep your mud pies. Death by chocolate won’t be my chosen suicide method. Brownies I can leave. And considering all that I’ll now say THIS – is the best.

So what’s special? It’s chocolaty all right, but it’s got a whisper of apricot jam which was made to be in a marriage with chocolate, it has dark chocolate ganache which pulls the cake off the ledge of sickly, it has milk chocolate ganache which is ‘I dare you not to try and lick the bowl clean after you’ve made it’.

That’s why I call it the Life Changing Chocolate Cake.

Chocolate cake with apricot filling

The basic cake mix comes from the lovely Joy of Baking. But the filling and topping configuration probably came to me one night when I couldn’t sleep. It doesn’t often happen, but I don’t mind much if it does for the best food ideas occur to me when I toss and turn at 3 in the morning.

The cake is baked whole – I strongly object to the ‘bake two cakes and sandwich together’ concept. Cutting a cake is really not that difficult – good bread knife will do the trick with this number and sponges you can cut with a length of a cotton thread*. Cut and filled cake gels together better, the filling permeates more and it also looks better. Trust me – I was raised by a woman who could cut a cake into four layers!

*make and incision around the middle of the cake to mark where it needs to be cut. Wrap a length of cotton thread around the cake along the incision and pull the ends in opposite directions. The thread will go through the middle, cutting the cake beautifully.

chocolate cake with apricot filling

Servings: 12-14Time: about 3 hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 80g (3 oz) best dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 20g (3 tbsp.) cocoa
  • 160g (2/3 cup) boiling water
  • 210g (1 2/3 cup) plain flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 150g (1 stick and 2 tbsp.) softened butter
  • 266g (1 heaping cup) caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • vanilla extract
  • 160ml (2/3 cup) milk
  • FILLING AND GANACHE
  • 4 tbsp apricot jam
  • 100g (4 oz) good quality cooking milk chocolate
  • 150g (6 oz) good quality dark chocolate
  • 200g (scant cup) double cream
  • a knob of butter

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Butter and flour or line with parchment a round 23cm (9in) cake tin.

Put the chocolate and cocoa in a bowl, pour over boiling water, stir to melt and cool down. In the meantime sieve the flour, baking powder, soda and salt.

Beat the butter in a standing mixer or with a hand-held one, add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy. It might look a bit grainy, but when you add the eggs, one at a time, mixing constantly, it will look better. Add the cooled down chocolate mix and beat in. Add a third of flour, then half of the milk, flour and milk again, ending with the rest of the flour. Beat until combined.

Pour the mix into the tin and bake for about 50 minutes, until the skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for about 10 mins, then turn our upside down onto a greased cake rack. If you used parchment, don’t peel it off until completely cold.

The cake must be cold to be cut; it’s a good idea to put it in the fridge for half an hour before cutting. Using a good bread knife, mark the line of the outside of the cake halfway down its height (although no matter what you do, the top layer will always come out slightly higher). Leave the bottom half on the plate you are going to keep it on, and slide the other half off. A bread peel or a really large fish slice can be handy.

Heat up about 3 tbsp. of apricot jam in a pan with a tablespoon of water, then sieve it – unless you have extremely smooth jam without bits. Spread the jam over the bottom half of the cake smoothing the crumbs. Spread some also over what will be the top of the cake.

Place the milk and dark chocolate for the ganache in separate bowls, breaking them into little pieces. Put the cream and butter in a pan and bring to a boil. When it boils vigorously, pour 80g over the milk chocolate and the rest over the dark chocolate (you want the inside filling to be a bit thicker so it doesn’t spill over the sides). Leave to rest for a few minutes, then whip each with a whisk. Leave for half an hour or so to thicken a bit.

Pour or spoon the milk chocolate ganache over the apricot jam covered bottom half of the cake and spread evenly – not too much as it will find its space once sandwiched. Put the top back on, cut side to the ganache. Now pour the dark chocolate ganache over the top of the cake and smooth with a palette knife. The butter makes it nice and shiny, the sides can be done by scraping ganache off the base and plastering to the sides.

Phew – that was hard work. I think I need a piece of cake now.

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