Birthday bonanza

I've been looking forward to trying out some cake decorating ideas for a while now, so volunteered to make a birthday cake for a joint birthday celebration for a couple of friends. As it turned out,  the party day was way too hot for cake decorating - it was so hot in the kitchen that the chocolate for the ganache stayed molten for hours after taking it off the stove. So after a couple of compromises along the way, I ended up with a cake that looked very presentable, if not quite living up to my original grand plans. Fingers crossed I can convince somebody else to let me make a cake and that their birthday falls on a day more amenable to decorating!

White chocolate mud cake with frosted berries

375g unsalted butter
400g white chocolate
300 mls milk
2 cups plain flour
1 cup self raising flour
2 cups caster sugar
2 tspn vanilla essence
3 eggs

zest of 1 lime
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
800g white chocolate
400ml cream

1/4 cup caster sugar
1 egg white
150g small strawberries
100g raspberries
100g blackberries
150g blueberries


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 25 centimetre cake pan. Place the butter, chocolate and milk in a heavy based saucepan and melt chocolate over low heat, stirring occasionally. Set aside and allow to cool. Sift together the flours and add caster sugar. Make a well, and add eggs, vanilla and chocolate mix. Stir well, being careful not to incorporate too much air. Place in prepared tin and bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until a skewer inserted comes out clean. If the cake browns too much too quickly, cover it with aluminium foil. The cake should be golden, with a slightly sugary crust. Allow to cool before turning out.

To make the ganache, finely chop the citrus zest and place in a saucepan with the cream. Bring to scalding point, then remove from heat. Pour over the chocolate and stir briskly to melt together. When smooth, set aside to thicken.

To frost the berries, dip each berry in egg white then roll in caster sugar. Place on baking paper and allow to dry for around an hour.

Place the cake on a board or stand and remove any rounded portion using a large knife or cake leveller. Cover in ganache, placing cake in the refrigerator if necessary. If a smooth finish is desired, run a hot palette knife over the top and sides of the cake, otherwise add extra ganache to give a textured finish. Scatter the frosted berries on top, pushing lightly into the ganache.


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