Hi! Happy Happy Sunday! I am just popping on here to share a super fun new recipe from a very talented friend of mine, Amanda, who just wrote a book!! I’ve never actually met Amanda IRL but we’ve chatted loads on the internet and I’ve been a guest on her podcast, so I’m pretty sure that counts as being real friends.
Amanda’s book is called Cake Portfolio, and the concept is simple and very genius - there are basically a whole bunch of base recipes, and then loads of different combinations and decorating suggestions where you can combine the techniques, recipes, and finishing methods to your heart’s content. It’s such a good idea - so often I make a ‘new’ recipe by combining a couple of my base recipes, and this is exactly the purpose of the book. There are 26 cake designs with flavour suggestions and combinations, but Amanda encourages you to combine things and go a little rogue and see what happens - which is exactly what I did with this cake!
I took the concept of her ‘Surprise Party’ cake, which is 6 layers of Vanilla Cake, sandwiched with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Strawberry Jam, and riffed on it slightly, swapping out the vanilla cake for Amanda’s Chocolate cake (which is amazing, super easy to make and bakes up like a dream with the most perfect texture), then filled it with a mixed berry jam (we didn’t have any strawberry and I didn’t want to leave the house so here we are), and then finished it with Amanda’s STRAWBERRY SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM which is so good that it’s absolutely worth yelling about. It’s basically a vanilla SMBC, but transformed into the most dreamy strawberry frosting using Freeze-dried strawberries. I ate some of it with a spoon, and kept sneaking into the fridge to get little bites of it once the cake was finished, because it’s so good. It’s like the stuff of your childhood dreams, but if your childhood dreams knew that SMBC existed (mine did not).
I couldn’t decide on all the amazing finishing techniques in the book, so I went for a pretty simple but very pretty pattern on the side, which you basically make by holding an offset spatula to the side of the cake and then spinning the turn table, making all these amazing spiral swirly patterns on the side. It’s super simple to make, and a lot of fun, and takes some of the stress of getting a very smooth side out of the decorating process. I then finished off the top with a quick line of ‘shell’ piping, and that was all it needed!
Amanda’s book is so inspiring and full of endless combinations of cakes to make. I will absolutely be turning to it again and again when I need a little bit of inspo, or just a really good base recipe. Congrats lady - I can’t wait to make everything! x
A few wee tips:
Make the cakes ahead of time if you can - I levelled mine off and wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap, then froze them overnight and frosted them frozen.
I cheated just a little here and used my Swiss meringue buttercream recipe, because it’s what i’m used to (very very similar to Amanda’s), and then followed her instructions to make it strawberry flavoured. I also increased the amount slightly because I like to have more buttercream between the layers, and I like having a little as back up in case I end up doing a fancy design or the outside coat ends up a bit thicker.
I used Fresh As freeze dried strawberry powder, but you can also use ground up freeze dried strawberries!
Make sure you get your wee butt over to Amanda’s site to buy a copy of this book!!
Chocolate Layer Cake with Jam Filling and Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Makes one 8”, three layer cake. -
Recipe Reprinted with Permission from Cake Portfolio
Chocolate Layer Cake
420g all-purpose flour
112g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
2 ¼ tsp baking soda
2 ¼ tsp salt
2 ¼ tsp espresso powder
345g whole milk, room temperature
157g vegetable or neutral oil
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
345g boiling water
Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
190g egg whites
½ tsp salt
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
700g unsalted butter, cool, cut into cubes
60g freeze-dried strawberries, ground and sifted, or freeze-dried strawberry powder
240g jam (I used mixed berry, Amanda uses Strawberry in her book - whatever you have on hand is great!)
- PROCESS -
CHOCOLATE LAYER CAKE
Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Prepare three 8 inch round, 3 inch deep pans with butter and cocoa powder, or baking spray and parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine all of the dry ingredients.
Add in the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine, first at a low speed, and then increase to medium for 30 seconds.
Add in the boiling water, cover the mixer with a tea towel to prevent splashing, then mix on medium high for 30 more seconds.
Divide the batter between the three prepared pans, about 675g per pan. Bake until the cake springs back when gently poked and the cakes are starting to pull away from the sides, about 35 minutes.
Cool in pans on wire rack for 5 minutes before turning out. Cool completely before leveling and frosting. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the freezer until ready.
STRAWBERRY SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
Place the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or a heat proof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the bowl. Heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture registers 160˚f / 70˚c on a thermometer and the sugar has dissolved.
Carefully transfer the bowl to the mixer, and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip the egg whites on high until they are snowy white and fluffy, 8-10 minutes. Add the butter one chunk at a time. The mixture may look curdled - but just keep mixing!
Once all the butter is incorporated, mix on high for a further 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.
Once the buttercream has finished mixing, and is smooth and silky, add the strawberry powder and switch to the paddle attachment. Mix in medium until incorporated, and then mix on low for one minute to remove any air. Use immediately - store any leftovers in the fridge.
Level off the cake layers. Transfer some of the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a wilton 1M tip - this will be used to make a buttercream dam to hold in the jam between layers and to pipe the top design of the cake.
Secure one of the layers of cake to a cake turntable using a little buttercream. Add about a cup of buttercream onto the first layer of cake, and smooth using an offset spatula. Create a buttercream dam using the buttercream in the piping bag by piping a ring of frosting around the outside edge of the first layer. Fill in the ring with approximately 6 Tbsp Jam.
Place the second layer of cake onto the first, pressing very lightly to secure, and sealing the joins with a thin layer of buttercream. Repeat the layering process - add a cup of buttercream, make a dam, fill with 6 Tbsp Jam, then top with the third layer of cake - I like to put this one upside down to ensure that the top of the cake is flat. Return the rest of the buttercream in the piping bag to the bowl with the buttercream.
Crumb coat the cake - to do this, apply a thin layer of buttercream over the surface of the cake, and smooth with a bench scraper or icing smoother. Refrigerate the cake for 20-30 minutes, until the crumb coat has set.
Cover the side and top of the cake with a smooth layer of buttercream. Using an offset spatula, create a pattern on the side of the cake by holding the spatula against the cake and rotating the turntable, slowly moving the spatula up the side of the cake. Smooth off the top edge.
Using the remaining buttercream in the piping bag, pipe a ‘shell’ design on top of the cake - this video explains it better than I can!
Chill the cake until ready to serve. Remove from the fridge about an hour before serving to bring to room temperature.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge