Saturday, 17 December 2011

4 Tier Coffee & Walnut Birthday Cake

I didn't mean to make this cake so tall. I'd planned a normal 2 tier cake for Mr Eve's birthday, but then forgot to add the baking powder to the batter, and so decided to bake another set of sponges to try again. It turned out the second attempt didn't rise much higher than the first, so rather than waste cake (a terrible sin in my book), I put all the sponges together to make a rather comical looking high rise tower of cake.

Coffee & Walnut is a deservedly classic flavour combination, one of Mr Eve's favourites, and this version is as scrumptious to taste as it is fun to see. For a more conventionally delicate and smaller layer cake, just halve the ingredient quantities for the batter and the buttercream.

Adapted from the recipe in a River Cottage Baking booklet by The Telegraph newspaper. You can buy the River Cottage baking book by Pam Corbin from Amazon here.

Serves 16

400g plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
400g unsalted butter, room temperature
200g light muscovado sugar
200g caster sugar
6 eggs, room temperature
100ml coffee essence (or 2 tablespoons instant coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water)
200g chopped walnuts
85-100ml milk

1. Turn the oven to 180C, and grease and line four 18 inch sandwich baking tins.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, with a spoonful of the flour after each one, and beat well after each addition.

4. Mix in the coffee essence or dissolved instant coffee.

5. Next sift the flour and baking powder into the cake batter, stirring it in gently with a wooden or metal spoon. Finally, add the walnuts, and stir gently again until just combined.

6. Distribute the batter evenly between the four cake tins, and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. You'll know the cakes are done when the tops spring back under your finger, and a skewer comes out clean.

7. Leave to cool in their tins for 20 minutes, before placing onto wire racks or plates to cool further.

for the buttercream:

180g unsalted butter, softened
375g icing sugar
6 teaspoons coffee essence or 6 teaspoons instant coffee dissolved in 6 teaspoons of boiling water
50g chopped walnuts

8. To make the coffee buttercream, beat the butter until creamy and then add the sifted icing sugar and coffee flavouring, beating thoroughly until well combined.

9. When the cakes are cool, place one on a large plate, then spread with a layer of buttercream.

10. Place the second cake ontop, pressing down carefully and firmly, before spreading the top of that cake with more buttercream and placing the third ontop.

11. Spread the third cake with buttercream, then sandwich with the top, fourth, cake.

12. Finally, spread the leftover buttercream generously over the top cake. Dot with more chopped walnuts.

for the chocolate heart topper, optional:

50g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

13. To make the topper, melt the chopped chocolate in a bain maire (a bowl over a pan of simmering water).

14. Once melted, take off the heat and pour into a piping bag with the smallest circle nozzle. If you don't have this you can make a piping bag by snipping a hole in the corner of a freezer bag.

15. Next line a baking sheet or tray with parchment or baking paper. Pipe chocolate onto the paper in a heart shape, making sure that all the lines join up. Then place the sheet into the fridge to chill the topper for 10 minutes.

16. Using a spatula, gently lift the topper from the paper, and place it atop the cake.

17. Serve in small slices with cream.

This cake was idly baked to the sounds of the Cello Suites No.s 4-6 by Bach.

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