The other week was my baby brother's 31st birthday. Note that I refer to him as my baby brother, but he is in no way a baby - not only is he older than me but he is also significantly taller than me (difficult to imagine, I know) so that can't be why I refer to him as my baby brother. Maybe it's cos I feel like looking after him sometimes?? Or maybe it's cos I keep beating him at things, like getting my driver's licence and buying a house, even though I was set back by a good six months in the former case for (as it turns out, inaccuarate) medical reasons in addition to being eighteen months younger.
Hehe can you tell I like to rub it in? Hi, Saul! *waves* I lovez ya!!!
Anyway, I digress.
Originally I was planning to knock off one of my 101 Things items by making him the rainbow cake, but then I decided that he might not appreciate it as much as, say, the children of a friend might, so I opted for something rich and decadent, likely to please the masses.
I chose caramel mud cake!
I pulled inspiration from here and there and dreamed up the decoration all on my own (pretty hard to go wrong when your decoration involves chocolate, cream and caramels...), so here it is (and note that I spent about half an hour trying out a new way of displaying my recipes - namely, a flow chart with annotated arrows following groups of ingredients saying things like "melt" and "mix", because that's how I copy out recipes by hand - and it was just too hard. I may try again at another date but for now I'll write it in a similar fashion, the way it appears in my head):
CARAMEL MUD CAKE:
200g white chocolate
1c brown sugar, firmly packed
1tbsp golden syrup
1tbsp golden syrup
3/4c hot water
2tsp vanilla essence
Melt these over low-medium heat, stirring with wooden spoon until smooth. Cool 20mins (or, if you're impatient me, cool faster using a sink full of water. Not sure what effect this has on the mixture but don't much care!). Either way, only good can come of this concoction. Surely...
Add these in one at a time, mixing well after each.
1c plain flour
1c SR flour
Sift over moist mixture, stirring well until combined.
Bake in 22cm greased, lined tin at 160oC (oh yeah, forgot to say - preheat thy oven and grease and line thy tin before beginning) for 50-60 mins or until skewer comes out mostly clean.
Stand in tin 20mins before turning onto wire rack to cool.
400g dark chocolate, chopped finely. The technical measurement for this quantity of chocolate is "a buttload", as demonstrated by the following image:
Heat cream over low heat, stirring, until it just comes to the simmer and small bubbles are forming around the outside, then pour hot cream over chocolate in a heatproof bowl (or, if you use the microwave to heat the cream you can dump the chocolate into it to save using another pot), ensuring it is fully covered, and leave to sit for 1-2 minutes before stirring it together until smooth.
Keep a little under half warm (I used a double boiler on very low) for pouring over the cake (this will give you a lovely, glossy finish), and cool a little more than half in the fridge NOT FREEZER, stirring every couple of minutes until somewhere between the consistency of refrigerated margerine and butter.
Split the cake into two layers, using your awesome cake leveller that Kirsti got you for your birthday.
Marvel at how you can choose how thick a layer you wish to cut your cake into by simply slipping the wire up and down the grooves in the frame.
Whip the cooled ganache until light and fluffy and spread between the layers, leaving some whipped ganache for piping.
Place cake rack on baking/pizza tray to catch the precious drips of delicious, molten ganache (you will probably want to
eat these with a spoon later on use them to patch up any dud spots on your cake), then pour warm (but not hot) ganache over the cake. You don't want it too runny otherwise your coverage won't be thick and smooth enough.
Set in the refrigerator. Once set, decorate as you see fit. I used Pascall's caramel squares cut diagonally in half and glued them on using piped stars of whipped ganache. Also, as you can see from the ripples around my piping and caramels, it wasn't quite set when I added them. Like I said, I'm impatient! I would say that a little more set than this would be good, although probably not completely set because then the piping would be in danger of sliding off instead of becoming one with the poured ganache.
The whole process really does sound a little bit Zen, doesn't it.
I* then piped the remainder of the ganache onto a spoon and ate it. I refrained from piping directly into my mouth, even though I really wanted to.
Oh, and FYI, it may or may not freak you out to know that the last photo was taken in my mum's bathroom. No, nobody was using at the time, and no, the cake didn't touch anything - it was carried in and carried out and not even put down. But the light is SO MUCH BETTER in there, on account of it getting the afternoon sun and being tiled in white. I couldn't help it. So if you see that green tiled border in the future, that's what it's all about. Sorry if that grosses you out! It sure freaked my mum out, but she's a bit of a freakazoid when it comes to germs.
*By "I" I actually mean "we". Names have been changed to protect the identity of the innocent.