A cake triumvirate

A cake triumvirate: lemon, red velvet and chocolate Guinness

A cake triumvirate: lemon, red velvet and chocolate Guinness

A grand title but I believe that last weekend I created a cake triumvirate consisting of red velvet cake, chocolate Guinness cake (a god among cakes) and zingy lemon cake with a lemon curd spiral on top, when I baked three cakes for a friend’s birthday party at the really rather fabulous Kettners in Soho.

After the success of my cakes and desserts at another friend’s birthday party in February, I was asked if I would mind making the cakes for another party. Mind? Of course I don’t mind! Any excuse to bake, no really, any. I was really pleased and flattered to be asked although I do always suffer from a certain amount of nerves when I make cakes for people because you just have to trust that you have made them correctly and that they will be delicious.

On this occasion, the request was for a chocolate Guinness cake, (“So my favourite cake is chocolate Guinness cake – do you know how to make that?”, “Of course!” Technically no, but…), red velvet cake and then at my suggestion, a lemon cake as a contrast to the chocolaty nature of the other two.

Once again, I faced with the issue of having a job! Which I love and am extremely grateful for but it can make baking a little bit tricky as it means that I have to do it all after work. I ‘pulled an all-nighter’ on this job, (I say all night, it was midnight), as I hadn’t got home quite as early as I had intended and had then had the age old problem of having to visit multiple shops in order to purchase all of the ingredients that I required and I won’t lie, I was furious. I thought I would be really clever and get off the tube briefly at Fulham Broadway, visit the Sainsburys in the little shopping centre knowing that it’s practically impossible to get hold of red food colouring in Parsons Green, then jump back on the tube to Parsons Green ingredients in hand, and then walk the short distance home.

A great plan in theory. I got to Sainsburys in Fulham Broadway and not only did they not have any evil red food colouring, but they also didn’t have any unsalted butter or buttermilk! Buttermilk I can understand, and I was prepared to use sour cream instead, but not unsalted butter? Honestly. I was so mad. It wouldn’t have been so bad if they had had the food colouring because then I could have got back on the tube but having already scoured Parsons Green for it, I knew that I had no alternative than to trudge sourly towards the larger Waitrose on the corner of the North End Road. Fortunately they did have food colouring (although not as vivid a red as I was hoping for) and they also had buttermilk but my spirit was somewhat dampened by the driving rain and the tonne of shopping I was carrying. I was then in no man’s land, caught between two tube stations and walked the rest of the way home. Grumpy.

Anyway, I got home eventually, had delicious newspaper trout made by my brother, and started baking. I had all three cakes made and cooling ready for icing on Saturday morning, with the kitchen cleaned up by midnight.

I was up early on Saturday to go to the wholesale flower market in Vauxhall to collect 150 beautiful tulips which gave me plenty of time to make the three different cake frostings and prepare in general to leave to set everything up for the party at Kettners. I’ll be honest and confess that I got my brother to slice the sponges in half for the chocolate Guinness cake (I really can’t cut straight) so that I could have a 6 layer chocolate Guinness cake. I left the red velvet as it was, in 3 layers and just two for the lemon cake. I think it’s good to have variation.

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that the cakes were a success and that they went down very well indeed. There certainly wasn’t a whole lot left.

I used the following recipe from Gizzi Erskine, (available on her website: http://www.gizzierskine.com), although I made three separate smaller/thinner sponges in a 21cm cake tin and put the frosting in-between each layer of the cake as well as on top.

250ml Guinness
250g unsalted butter, sliced
100g good quality plain chocolate (70%)
35g cocoa
400g caster sugar
1 x 142ml pot plain yoghurt
2 free range eggs
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

For the frosting
300g Philadelphia cream cheese
150g icing sugar
125ml double or whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter and line a 23cm springform tin. Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, and heat until the butter has melted, at which time you should stir in the chocolate, cocoa and sugar. Beat the yoghurt with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the chocolaty, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and bicarbonate of soda.

Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

To make the frosting lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them both together. Separately whip the cream until it just begins to thicken but still holds it shape. Pour the cream to the cream cheese mix and beat again until combined and reaches a spreadable consistency. Frost the top of the Guinness cake.

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