So over two weeks ago marked the first day of the 21st year I have been inhaling oxygen on planet Earth.
21 doesn’t quite roll off my tongue so smoothly just yet (hi I’m twenty… one?), but the disbelief of losing teenager status last year took a lot more getting used to according to memory, so I imagine that by the time I have to speak my current age for the third time, I should have had crawled out from under my furry blanket – I actually do have one and it’s very cozy – of denial and faced reality.
In any case, there had to be cake, joyous occasion or otherwise. And it was the perfect excuse to try decorating with flowers, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for ages. I got three different kinds from a flower shop that sells by the stalk which added up to cost a pretty penny nonetheless, but shopping for flowers was such a therapeutic experience that I look forward to the day when I can drop by the store again to pick up some decorative florals for another cake.
I also took this opportunity to quite literally drown the cake in baileys, but not because I’m a huge fan of alcohol per se – in fact baileys and rum are the only kinds I can stand – but rather, I love how it’s flavour blends in so naturally with desserts being a dessert alcohol itself. But yes, I do love baileys and believe me if I could locate all its variations I would start a collection.
I took my favourite chocolate cake recipe and swapped some of the liquid for baileys and replaced some of the cream with aforementioned alcohol in a traditional ganache for a chocolate glaze with character. I chose to go with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting for the colour contrast it would provide against the dark glaze and the chocolate cake itself which I frosted thinly in some parts such that the colour of the cake would peek through. Aesthetic reasons aside, this truly is my favourite frosting at point of writing and has been for quite some time now. It is a great alternative to buttercream with a lot less sugar involved.
Now off to educate myself in cake decorating with flowers…
Baileys Mocha Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Baileys Glaze
makes one 5 inch and one 6 inch cake
For the cake:
245 grams all purpose flour
300 grams sugar
68 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
120 ml buttermilk
120 ml baileys
120 ml vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
240 ml coffee
For the frosting:
170 grams white chocolate, melted and cooled
226 grams cream cheese, softened but still cool
56 grams unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 tablespoon creme fraiche or sour cream
For the glaze:
75 ml baileys
60 ml heavy cream
110 grams dark chocolate, chopped
Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Line one 5 inch round pan and one 6 inch round pan with parchment paper and butter the sides.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, baileys, oil, eggs and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk to combine. Stir in the coffee and mix until you achieve a homogenous batter.
Divide the batter amongst the pans and bake for roughly 35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out mostly clean, with still some moist crumbs attached. I prefer to err on the side of slightly underbaked for chocolate cakes. Cool the cakes in their pans for about 30 minutes, turn them out onto a cooling rack, let cool completely.
I would make the cakes the day before and refrigerate them until they’re cold so that they’re easier to slice into layers.
Make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese, butter and creme fraiche or sour cream until smooth and combined. Add the cooled, melted white chocolate and stir until incorporated. If the frosting is a little runny, refrigerate for as it needs to firm up to a spreadable consistency.
Slice each of the cooled chocolate cakes into half. Take the bottom layer of the 6 inch cake, spread an even layer of frosting over, top with the top layer. Coat the top and sides thinly with frosting and refrigerate until frosting is firm. Repeat with the 5 inch cake. You are essentially frosting the two differently sized cakes separately before stacking them up later.
Retrieve the 6 inch cake from the fridge and add more frosting to a few areas on the sides of the cake for a difference in opacity all around. Return cake to refrigerator for frosting to set while you work on the other cake. Note that this recipe only makes enough frosting for a naked cake. Repeat with the 5 inch cake. Retrieve the 6 inch cake from the fridge and place it on a serving platter and position the smaller one on top. Return to fridge to chill until the frosting has completely firmed up.
Make the glaze: Combine the baileys and cream together in a saucepan and heat until they start to simmer. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour over the cream mixture. Let the mixture stand for 1 to 2 minutes then stir to combine the cream and chocolate. Allow glaze to cool until it achieves a slightly thick consistency.
Pour glaze over the top tier and allow it to drip down the sides. You can use a piping bag for a neater effect. For the bottom tier, flood the exposed top area with glaze and allow it to drip down the sides. Decorate with flowers if you will.