What this blog is, really, is a series of love letters about the people in my life, and sometimes to vegetables. There’s even one love poem, about speculoos. It’s never truer than with cakes, and a round cake on here is almost always a food-based emotional outpouring, because I’ll only make a big, proper dessert, big enough that it could almost be a weapon, for someone I really care about*.
This one was for the work wife.
It’s weird, the intensity of the relationships you form at work, with people you see more than your housemates and family. The ones that are right there when things go wrong, and bring snacks to remedy it, and the ones that make you cry with hysterical laughter. I’m cursed with a terrible memory, but when you cook for one of those close people, the memories become part of the process. Dancing at the Christmas do, shouting “LEFT! RIGHT!” to announce which way to spin, went in with the flour. In-depth talks next to the river were whisked into the mix along with the cocoa, the sugar. All the times we’ve left Lindor balls and hot chocolates on each other’s desks are, of course, in the ganache.
And it just so happens to be a really good cake. My best ever, according to some colleagues. And the great news? It’s pretty simple – there’s not even any creaming involved (feel free to add your own rude joke here). I’ve made this chocolate mint cake late at night, after busy days, and it’s no stress at all, just a bowl of dry ingredients, a bowl of wet ingredients, and an excellent treat at the end.
After Eight chocolate mint cake
Adapted from Magnolia Bakery
Serves 16, easily
400g granulated sugar
280g plain flour
75g cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
250ml milk (1 cup)
125ml vegetable oil (1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon vanilla
200ml just-boiled water
280g mint dark chocolate*, broken into small pieces
330ml double cream
30g icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 180C, and line/grease three 8 inch round pans. Two is fine, if that’s all you have – the mixture sits well.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb, and salt.
- In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and whisk together, then add the water.
- Pour a third into each tin, place in the oven and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Flip onto a wire rack – I tend to do it top down – and allow to cool before levelling the tops.
- While the cakes cool, make the ganache. Place the chocolate pieces into a large bowl and warm the double cream on the hob until hot but not boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir to melt and combine. Add the icing sugar and mix thoroughly. Allow to cool, then transfer to a piping bag.
- Okay! Cakes are cool, ganache is ready. Place your first layer on your plate, or cake stand, and smooth about 1/5th of the ganache over. Next layer on, 1/5th ganache. Final layer on, 1/5 ganache.
- Time for the sides. Pipe up the sides at regular intervals, about two inches apart, like this, making sure you keep back some ganache. Use a large palette knife, held vertically, to smooth the ganache out while you spin the plate/stand with your other hand. You might need to fill in some gaps with the remaining ganache, but if not, add it to the top for a thick layer. Decorate as you wish!
The cake will happily survive in an airtight container for up to four days.
*Tesco does a great plain mint chocolate for about a quid.