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Chocolate and cream layer cake_smlThere’s just something about a tiered chocolate cake, isn’t there? When I was young, my mother would always let us choose whichever type of cake we would like to celebrate our birthday, and chocolate cake was always top of my wish list. I have passed this tradition down to my family, and chocolate is always at the top of my son Sam’s wish list too. This recipe is super-easy. It might look decadent, but it’s actually not too rich. It also has real ‘wow’ factor when you grace the table with its beauty.

Makes one 4-tiered 20 cm (8 inch) cake
2 x Chocolate cakes
2 quantities Chantilly cream

Chocolate cake

Here’s a delectable, rich cake that any chocoholic will simply adore. It’s as delicious and comforting as you would expect, and is the perfect all-rounder for any occasion.

Makes one 20 cm (8 inch) round cake

100 g (3½ oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
2 tablespoons good-quality instant coffee granules (use decaffeinated
if desired)
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) boiling water
125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) hot milk
50 g (1¾ oz) unsweetened (Dutch) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or natural vanilla extract
250 g (9 oz) unsalted butter, softened and chopped, plus extra for greasing
300 g (10½ oz) raw (demerara) sugar
200 g (7 oz) dark brown sugar
450 g (1 lb) self-raising flour or
gluten-free self-raising flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F). Lightly grease a 20 cm (8 inch) round cake tin.

Place the chocolate and coffee in a heatproof bowl and pour over the boiling water. Stir gently until melted and smooth and stand until cool.

Meanwhile, place the hot milk, cocoa powder and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine well, then set aside to cool.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. With the motor on low speed, add the flour, then the beaten egg and beat until just combined. Add the chocolate and milk mixtures alternately and beat until well combined. The batter should resemble a coffee-coloured frosting.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 35–40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake stand in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

When cool, use a large serrated knife to cut each cake in half, horizontally, to give four layers in total.

Chantilly Cream
Chantilly cream is a traditional filling that a lot of people find hard to go past, especially when accompanied with strawberries. It goes with everything! I like usingit in a victoria sponge or chocolate cake with fresh strawberries, in a meringue stack with fresh figs or a layered crêpe stack with watermelon and rose jam and berries.

500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) thickened (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or natural vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream, sugar and vanilla on high speed until soft peaks form. Use it to fill or top the cake of your choice.

To crown
About 250 g (9 oz) small strawberries, some not hulled
Handful of raspberries
Handful of blueberries
Handful of pomegranate seeds

To assemble, place one of the cake layers on a cake stand or serving plate and spread with a quarter of the chantilly cream, leaving a 2–3 cm (¾–1¼ inch) border, to allow for spreading, when you place another layer on top. Repeat this process with the remaining layers and cream. When you get to the last layer, use the remaining cream to top the cake.

Halve about four or five strawberries. Place the whole strawberries around the periphery of the cake, then start to fill to the centre. Scatter the halved strawberries around the top of the cake. Repeat with the raspberries. Finish with a scattering of blueberries and pomegranate seeds.

Recipe and images from Naked Cakes by Lyndel Miller, published by Murdoch Books, $49.99. Buy the book here.

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