Chocolate and ginger cake with sweet sherry buttercream
- December 2015
- Serves 24
- Hands-on time 50 min, oven time 50 min, plus cooling
This chocolate and ginger naked cake recipe is perfect for the chocolate lovers in your family. The sherry buttercream gives the cake an added boozy boost.
- 42.5g (21.1g saturated)
- 50.2g (44.6g sugars)
- 550g unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
- 550g caster sugar
- 100g crystallised ginger, very finely chopped
- 9 medium free-range eggs
- 200g dark chocolate, melted
- 50ml whole milk
- 400g ground almonds
- 125g plain flour
- 25g cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
For the buttercream
- 300g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 200g full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- 500g icing sugar
- 3 tbsp sweet (cream) sherry
You’ll also need…
- 2 x deep 20cm cake tins with removable bases, greased and fully lined with baking paper
- Flexible palette knife
- Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer then stir in the crystallised ginger. When light and fluffy, add the eggs, 2 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate and milk. In another bowl, mix the almonds, flour, cocoa powder and baking powder with a pinch of salt, then add to the butter mixture in thirds, folding in with either the mixer on the slowest speed, or with a metal spoon, until just combined. Divide between the cake tins, smooth the tops, then bake for 50 minutes or until risen, lightly golden and springy to the touch. Cover with foil if they start to brown too much. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then remove the cakes to wire racks and cool completely.
- To make the buttercream, put the butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl (see tips) and beat with an electric mixer until combined and smooth. Sift in the icing sugar in batches, beating well between each addition until smooth. Whisk in the sherry and chill for 30 minutes.
- To assemble, cut each cake in half horizontally using a long serrated knife (see how to slice a cake horizontally or see tips) to make 4 sponges. Put one sponge on a serving platter and spread with a layer of buttercream using a palette knife. Top with a second sponge and repeat until you have 4 layers. Spread the rest of the icing around the cake, scraping here and there with the palette knife to give a mottled design. Decorate (see know-how) to serve.
The butter and cream cheese for the buttercream need to be at the same temperature before they’re mixed. Take them out of the fridge at the same time to warm up. If your buttercream is too soft after mixing, chill for an hour or so until firmer. If the cakes will be on display for a while before being served, give them a bit of time in the fridge to firm up – they’ll sit much more happily if they’re cold to begin with.
Choose from these styles:
MAKE IT 3 LAYERS:
Use 3 x deep 23cm tins in step 1. Each layer will take about 35-40 minutes to cook. Don’t slice horizontally.
MAKE IT 6 LAYERS:
Use 3 x deep 18cm tins in step 1. They’ll take the same time as the 20cm sponges. Cut each into two, as in the recipe, before stacking.
How to slice horizontally:
The iced cake will keep￼ ￼chilled for 2-3 days, but is ￼best on the day it’s made. Wrap un-iced sponges in cling film, then freeze in their tins for up to
3 months. Defrost before icing.
For (inedible) decoration, we used olive leaves, red-￼berried eucalyptus and wax flowers (from florists) and sugared crab apples. Want to use other flowers or leaves? Check with your florist as to whether they’re food-safe. When you buy the flowers and foliage, buy florist’s tape and wrap it around exposed cut ends before putting on the cake.
How to sugar-frost fruit and petals:
This is an easy method and works particularly well with any fruit with a firm skin, or petals or small flowers. Whisk 2 egg whites in a bowl using a fork until frothy. Using a small paintbrush or pastry brush, gently paint a layer of egg white onto your chosen fruit or flower. Drop onto a plateful of caster sugar or granulated sugar (depending on the look you’re going for) and toss very gently to coat. Lay out on baking paper on top of a cooling rack and leave somewhere dry and cool for 1-2 hours until hardened. They will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container – the more delicate the object, the quicker it will deteriorate.
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