Baby shower baking typically consists of cupcakes with overt baby-references: faces, clothes, storks etc. As someone who isn’t a fan of excessive icing (especially royal or fondant), this didn’t really appeal. What I wanted was a show stopper; something that would fulfil my friend’s love of chocolate and look pretty as a picture in the middle of the table. Cue John Whaite.
I’ve been a fan of John since he appeared on the Great British Bake Off and this Chocolate and Salted Caramel Chiffon Cake recipe is exactly what you’d expect: looks beautiful, technical but achievable and most importantly tastes ridiculously good. Well, my friends assure me of the latter at least.
I was a bit nervous about making the cake, as I don’t think I’ve even eaten a chiffon cake before, let alone made one. Though, I snapped myself out of it by telling myself if you can make soufflé and fondants, you can do this. And right I was. It’s a great recipe, and the result was a lovely light, moist sponge – neither too sweet nor too chocolately.
I didn’t go for the decoration shown in John’s recipe, simply because of practicality – I knew I wanted a flat surface for the decoration. So, instead I chose to spread the ganache in a VERY thick layer on top of the cake. Utterly indulgent and the perfect bitter counter-point to the sweet salted caramel butter cream in the middle, which is probably the greatest thing ever invented. I’m not sure if I ever need to try another cake combo ever again.
Anyway, back to the decoration. Opting for a flat, blank chocolatey canvas proved to be a wise decision – my friend Chloe had a brain wave to decorate the cake with one question mark in blue glitter and one in pink. This led to the artist amongst us, Sarah, crafting a question-mark stencil out of card. You can use any card to make the stencil – a cereal box, old birthday card etc., it doesn’t matter; once you’ve done this, scatter a few sugar stars or other little decoration and you’re done. It went down a treat and looked really pretty; it’s probably the cake I’m most proud of.
Below are some photos (I apologise in advance, I am no David Loftus), showing the stages of assembly. It’s definitely not a cake you can make in a hurry as you need to allow it to fully cool before you can cut it in half. Of course you could use two smaller cake tins, but not sure if this would affect it rising. I might try it next time.
You can find the full recipe on the BBC Good Food website.
Note – I used a hand-held electric mixer to mix the egg whites, I personally wouldn’t want to whip that many by hand!
PS I will post the recipes for the other things i.e. gluten-free and normal scones, goats cheese tart etc. in the near future!
Some step-by-step photos
1) It’s all in the mix – make sure you incorporate as much air as possible.
2) Making the salted caramel buttercream – I let it cool and chilled it over night, before decorating the cake the next day.
3) Decorating – go wild. You could definitely sprinkle glitter over the piping, if you opted to do it.