I would never have heard the last of it if I hadn’t put this cake on the blog as it had so many favourites and retweets on Twitter and very lovely comments on Facebook that I would have felt a bit mean if I didn’t let everyone have a go at making it.
It is one of those beautiful things in the cookery world that looks much more difficult than it actually is to make and anyone with a basic knowledge of cake making should be able to make something similar for Easter or any special occasion. It would make a lovely birthday or Mother’s Day cake with the flowers or would look great with a selection of carefully placed chocolates in the middle for the not so flowery minded.
The basic sponge cake recipe is already on the blog here – The Easiest Simplest Chocolate Cake Ever, and I can honestly say my 10 year old has made it all on his own, with me just adding the hot water and being available for oven duties. The rest, as they say, is child’s-play.
Please note that this cake is three-tiered so if you want to replicate it exactly you will need three 7″ sandwich tins. If you do not have three tins this size, use two 8″ which will give you a lower but wider cake.
You can fill and finish the cake with any icing or covering you like. If I’m making it for a child’s birthday I usually opt for chocolate buttercream which is sweeter and more child-friendly than a dark chocolate ganache. I usually put a sweetened cream cheese chocolate icing on cupcakes and on this occasion, which wasn’t really for anything other than a family treat, I plumped for the real McCoy and made a silky-smooth dark chocolate ganache. Basically a simple mixture of chocolate, butter and cream.
The fresh flowers were a late addition as to be honest the cake started out in my mind as an homage to Easter and was to be decorated with some rather large chocolate eggs balancing on the top. After spending an age searching for ribbon and fiddling about decorating the eggs, after I looked at the photographs of the finished article I decided they were too top heavy and spoilt the look of the cake so off they came and after a quick reccy Plan B was put in to action.
I had the chocolate thins in the cupboard already and after a quick sortie around the garden, which is just starting to burst into life, I managed to find a little assortment of flowers to put on the top.
As the cake was just for us and the flowers were to be taken off quite quickly they were just laid on top of a small piece of brown greaseproof paper.
Someone did ask me about edible flowers. There is not much about at this time of the year, primroses, cowlslips and violets being the best option. Tulip petals are edible but I wouldn’t recommend them as they can cause a severe reaction in some people, so if you are not sure avoid them.
Personally I do not like eat to eat flowers unless I know exactly where they have come from and I’m really only happy if they are from my own garden where I know everything is free from any nasty sprays. Summer is really the time to make the most of the many edible flowers that are readily available, and there are many more than most people would imagine. Most edible flowers are best picked and used in the same day as they wilt quite quickly.
There are so many in fact, that it will be worth writing a post in the summer about the flowers I have in my own garden that transfer well to the kitchen table. I can think of two favourites off hand. One is the blue Borage flower which I love to use as a garnish for lemon tarts, the colour combination is stunning and the other is the bright red spiky flowers of Monarda (bergamot) look ravishing on a salad.
Borage should not be eaten by pregnant or lactating women as too many flowers can bring on milk production. Not a good look in a silk summer dress at a garden party.
Of course they are not just for cakes and many add a beautiful and fresh look to salads, add flavour to soups, stews and pies and give biscuits and bread that little something extra. A cool drink in the summer garnished with a few strawberry flower petals takes it another level.
Fresh flowers can be great fun and very beautiful but if you are not 100% confident of your plant knowledge please don’t eat them or offer them to other people. (I am a trained Garden Designer). They can be a bit of a minefield, for example runner bean flowers can be eaten but only the red ones, Day Lily flowers are fine but any other lilies are poisonous and therefore a definite no-no. Treat them as the same as picking wild mushrooms, if you are not sure, leave them where they are to keep the garden looking pretty without the risk of spoiling your or anyone else’s day.
- 225g Good quality dark chocolate
- 125g Unsalted butter
- 125g Double Cream
- Put the chocolate and butter in a bowl.
- Set it over a pan of hot but not boiling water. No more than a very gentle simmer.
- Stir occasionally until the butter and chocolate have melted.
- Take of the heat and beat in the cream until you have a beautiful glossy ganache.
- Leave to for a few minutes to start to firm a little before using to decorate your cake.