Tuesday, 2 August 2016

best ever chocolate chip cookies

These are hands down the best cookies I have made, ever... If you like your cookies with a crisp edge, chewy centre and packed with chocolate you NEED to make these. Like now, right now. The dough rests in the fridge for at least 24 hours so start now and cookie perfection is but a day away!

•   c o o k i e   p e r f e c t i o n   •

I spent most of last week in the Southern Highlands, recipe testing, baking and prepping for "Christmas in July" - we snuck in just in time this year, although it wouldn't have been the first time we've celebrated "Christmas in August". These cookies, and maybe the spiced cherry jam, were the best things I made. Adapted slightly from the New York Times recipe that made the rounds of so many blogs a few years ago; the original makes giant 5 1/2 inch cookies, mine a more petite 3 1/2. The rolling and chilling are absolutely worth the effort, the calories too...

best ever chocolate chip cookies

210g cake flour*
210g bread flour*
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp table salt
250g butter, at room temperature
250g light brown sugar
200g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
seeds from 1 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
500g chocolate, roughly chopped (pieces no larger than 2cm)
sea salt flakes

* I suspect 420g regular plain flour would work just as well, in the interest of science I'll test this theory at the weekend :)

• sift the cake flour, bread flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl, set aside
• using a stand mixer, if you have one, with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until very light; you'll need to scrape the sides of the bowl every so often, it will take around 5 minutes, longer if your butter is firm
• with the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until combined, then mix in the vanilla
• turn your mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, mix until just combined, tip in the chopped chocolate, mix through gently, trying not to break the pieces
• line a baking tray with baking paper
• roll walnut sized balls of dough and place them on the baking tray, (you can really pack them in here as they are going into the fridge to rest) sprinkle with salt flakes, cover with plastic wrap then refrigerate for at least 24 hours, and a maximum of 72. Mine chilled for about 36 and were fabulous!
• when you're ready to bake, preheat your oven to 175ºC, cook 6 or 8 cookies at a time for 12-15 minutes, until just golden
• the cookies will be very soft, almost raw looking in the centre, leave them on the tray on a cooling rack for a few minutes to firm up, then transfer them to another rack and leave to cool, maybe sneaking a few while still warm ;)
• store in an airtight container, I'm sure they'd keep for a week, ours lasted 2 days (there were 10 of us, don't judge :) )

makes approximately 36 cookies

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

walnut and cinnamon babka

Babka is definitely one of the next "big things" in baking; a filled, rolled, and twisted loaf, it's been around for decades at least, even featured in Seinfeld. I was slow to catch on, a few years ago my friend Annie raved about a recipe she'd tried, it was easy to make, delicious and looked spectacular. I borrowed the recipe, yep, babka.  Turns out I already had it, in the fabulous Jerusalem by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi, a book I love but had never really considered for dessert; too many cook books and rash judgements. Hanging out on my "to bake" list with semla and kanelbullar, I finally made it in January, enthusiastically embracing 2016 as my year of bread.

i  •  l o v e  •  t h i s  •  r e c i p e

It's a two part process: make the dough, chill overnight; roll, fill, shape, leave to proof, bake, anoint with syrup; eat, go back for a second slice, come up with an excuse to make another. It's strangely comforting.

Tinkering with the recipe just a little, I swapped pecans for pistachios and dried sour cherries intended for an abandoned Christmas something or other.  Worked like a dream. The exterior sticky, chewy, still crisp in places; light and fluffy inside, cut with intensely chocolatey ribbons, the sour chew of cherries and fragrant bite of pistachios a wonderful contrast in texture.

There's something for me though about dough and cinnamon, enter Seinfeld's different "lesser babka" oh I loved the 90's... I used the filling from a cinnamon scroll recipe, a sprinkling of chopped walnuts, and struck babka gold. It's best still warm from the oven, but thick toasted slices slathered with butter are breakfast heaven. Happens to be my birthday today, and hand on my heart, my kids have told me they're giving me Lurpak. Happy days..


you'll need a large loaf tin, mine is 27cm (l) x 12cm (w) x 7cm (d)

355g plain flour
65g caster sugar
6g instant yeast
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean, or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
80 ml water
1/2 tsp fine salt (table salt)
100g butter, divided into 8 pieces, at room temperature
extra butter for greasing


100g walnuts, finely chopped
60g butter
100g brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

• put the flour, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix to combine
• put the vanilla, eggs and water in a jug, whisk lightly then add to flour mixture, mix until the dough comes together
• switch to the dough hook, on low speed add the salt, then butter, a piece at a time
increase the speed to medium, mix for approximately 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic, if the dough is very sticky you may need to add a little extra flour
• grease a rectangular dish or container that is at least double the volume of your dough, tip the dough into the container, lightly press the dough to the corners, forming an even layer, cover and pop in the fridge overnight (you can use a bowl for this step, but I find it much easier to roll the dough into a rectangle if it is approximately rectangular when I start)
• to make the filling; cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the cinnamon and beat to combine, set aside
• lightly flour your bench, carefully remove the dough from its container, roll to form a rectangle approximately 30cmm by 40cm
• spread the filling over the dough rectangle, leaving a 1 cm boarder clear at the top of the 30cm edge,
strew with the chopped walnuts, keeping a tablespoon aside
• using a pastry brush, lightly bush the 1cm boarder with water
• starting with the edge closest to you, carefully roll the dough into a log shape, as if you are making a roulade or swiss roll (if this means nothing to you, check out this awesome video from breads bakery in New York for babka rolling and shaping technique)
• gently press along the damp edge to seal, trim the uneven ends, carefully lift onto a baking tray and put into the fridge for approximately 20mins to firm up, this will make it easier to cut and shape
• while your babka is chilling, grease your loaf tin and line with baking paper
• once firm, using a serrated knife, cut the log in half vertically to give you two long strips; turn the strips cut side up, place one over the other to form an X, then make a couple of twists with each end
• lift your babka into the loaf tin, tucking the ends under if you need to, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to proof, you want the babka to almost double in size, mine took around an hour and half today, a lovely sunny autumn day in Sydney
• after about an hour pre-heat your oven to 180ºC, once the babka has almost doubled, sprinkle with the remaining chopped walnuts then bake in the centre of the oven for 45-55 minutes; test with a skewer at 45 minutes, if it comes out clean the babka is ready, if not pop it back in the oven and re- test at approximately 3-5 minute intervals
• remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack

the original recipe soaks the just out of the oven babka loaf with warm sugar syrup, sometimes I do, sometimes not; stickiness on buns, while delicious, bothers me and makes a mess of my toaster! It's fabulous either way, you could replace the syrup with a drizzle of simple icing for a sugar hit with less messy fingers...


75g sugar
85ml water

• combine the sugar and water in a small pan, stir over a gentle heat until the sugar dissolves, bring to the boil, remove from heat and cool slightly
• brush your babka with the warm syrup using a pastry brush

Saturday, 13 February 2016

apple rose tart

This is such a romantic, whimsical tart I really wanted to post it in good time for valentine's day, just in case someone out there was crazy enough to make it for their someone special, but as my daughter says "you know, life..."

So here it is, my apple rose vanilla custard tart, kind of in time for the 14th, if you put the oven on right now; it's sweet, tart, crisp and creamy, and you don't have to be madly in love to make it. It takes some time, the apple roses are a bit fiddly but after the first you'll fly through them, it's not overly taxing, more craft project than patisserie.

Unbaked it is so beautiful, I was a little concerned cooking would ruin it, slightly more concerned when i took it out of the oven and thought it looked like an onion tart tatin *insert scream face emoji* I've been assured it definitely looks like apples, although onion roses will be someone's idea of perfection so I probably shouldn't obsess :)

The apples and custard shrink slightly over the slow bake, I filled the gaps with herbs from the garden, magically holding on to the last of their flowers. A light dusting of icing sugar will also do the trick if you don't have herbs to hand, maybe if you've used them all making that tart tatin...

I used careme, my favourite store bought pastry, "because, life...", the sweet vanilla bean shortcrust was out of stock so I went with the sour cream shortcrust and it was perfect. My go to pastry for tarts is Lorraine Godsmark's flaky pastry but I couldn't find the recipe for the life of me, I also love her creme cheese pastry but really any reliable shortcrust or flaky recipe will do.

Tart or no tart, loved up or not, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

apple rose custard tart


• line a 20 cm tart tin or ring with your pastry, carefully line with foil and fill with baking weights (I use uncooked rice), bake at 180ºC for 20 minutes
• remove the foil and baking weights, if the base looks wet, return to the oven for another 5 minutes or so, allow to cool completely

vanilla pastry cream (creme patisserie)

1/2 vanilla bean

500ml milk
100g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
55g cornflour
60g butter
100ml cream, whipped

• split the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds, put the seeds and bean in a pan with the milk, slowly bring to the boil
• while the milk is heating, tip the sugar and cornflour into a mixing bowl, briefly combine with a whisk; add the egg yolks whisk until smooth and creamy
• whisking as you go, carefully add half the hot milk, once combined add the rest, whisk again, then pour through strainer into a clean large pan
• with the heat on low, continue to whisk, the mixture will thicken and eventually boil, you need to take this slowly or your custard will be grainy and possibly split, it will take around 8-10 minutes
remove from the heat, whisk in the butter, so much whisking!
• pour into a bowl, cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap, you want the wrap touching the surface of the creme to prevent a skin forming *remembers custard at school, shudders*
• when completely cool, fold through the whipped cream
• store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days

apple roses

8 small apples, I used 6 granny smith and 2 pink ladies
juice of 1 lemon

granny smith apples are good here as the lower sugar content makes them less prone to browning

• fill a large bowl with cold water, add the lemon juice
• using a vegetable peeler, I find the Y shape most effective, peel long strips of apple, dropping them into the bowl of lemony water as you go, discard any strips that are entirely apple skin, stop after the first 4 apples
• take an apple strip, carefully roll the strip as tightly as you can, holding the apple coil, roll another strip around the outside, continue until you have an apple rose the size of a small, well, rose, place to one side and continue rolling
• repeat with the remaining apples, finishing with 6 or so much smaller apple roses

apricot glaze

100g apricot jam

• heat the jam in a small pan until it melts, strain into a bowl

to construct the tart

• preheat the oven to 150ºC, place your tart shell on a baking sheet
• tip approximately half of the pastry cream into the shell, spread to the edges
• arrange the apple roses in the pastry shell, filling the gaps with the smaller roses
• bake the tart for an hour, pierce an apple with the tip of a sharp knife, if it feels firm return to the oven for up to 20 minutes, checking with the knife in 5 minute increments
• remove from the oven and while warm, brush with apricot jam
• serve immediately, or at room temperature, with the left over pastry cream, whipped cream if you prefer

I shot this tart over such a long time, I was in and out, picking up kids, dropping off kids, the light was varied, it was almost dark when I took these last shots, I think they're my favourites.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

chiffington, that lamington/chiffon love child

 I've been contemplating iconic Australian desserts, it's not a long list, pavlova and the lamington, even one of those is contentious. It's Australia Day this week, a public holiday, and an excellent excuse for baking. 

Chiffon cake is one of my favourite things, no surprise, and the only cake my family agree on; so in honour of Australia Day, I've created a chiffon cake with lamington flavours. A light chocolatey sponge, filled with fresh raspberries, whipped cream and raspberry jam, coated in creamy raspberry frosting and showered with coconut. An inside out lamington that looks a bit like a giant iced vovo, another Australian classic. 

It's indulgent, but so is a public holiday so close to Christmas and New Year :) If splitting and filling the cake is a step too far, just go with the frosting, or even slices of the naked cake, spread with jam and heaped with cream. Happy Australia Day x

chocolate chiffon cake

225g cake flour

25g cocoa powder
10g baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp salt
250g caster sugar
180 ml cooled, weak black coffee
125 ml canola oil
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped or 1 tsp vanilla paste
6 eggs, separated
1 extra egg white
1/2 tsp cream of tatar (not essential, but will stabilise the egg whites)
50g caster sugar

raspberry jam, recipe below

300ml thickened cream, whipped to medium peaks
2 punnets raspberries
raspberry swiss meringue buttercream, recipe below
100g shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened, whatever you prefer
50g flaked coconut

serves 16

 preheat your oven to 170ºC

• combine the cake flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb soda and salt, sift into a the bowl of a stand mixer, if you have one, and with the paddle attachment mix through the 250g caster sugar 
• make a well in the centre of your flour mixture, add the cooled coffee, egg yolks, oil and vanilla extract, mix until smooth
• in another, really large bowl whisk the 7 egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar then mix until you have soft peaks, gradually add the additional 50g caster sugar, whisking until you have firm peaks and the sugar has dissolved
• fold the egg whites into the batter in three stages
• pour the batter into an ungreased, unlined angel food cake tin and bake for 55-60 minutes; check after 55 minutes, the cake should spring back when gently pressed, if not, put it back in for the extra 5 minutes
• remove the cake from the oven, and immediately invert to cool; if your tin doesn't have "feet" balance the upturned tin over a bottle, guiding the neck of the bottle through the centre tube of your pan
• when completely cool, to release the cake, run a sharp knife around the inside and tube sections of the cake tin, remove the cake leaving it sitting on the centre section of the tin; this next stage is tricky, slide a strong thread, I use dental floss, between the base of the cake and the tin, slide the string all the way around the cake, crossing each end around the tube. Invert the cake onto a chopping board, you should have a super flat, neat finish on the top of your cake 
• using a long serrated knife, slice the cake in half horizontally, carefully lift the top section and place to one side
• tip 1/2 cup of raspberry jam into a small pan, heat gently, push through a fine sieve to remove the seeds, set aside to cool
• once cool, spread a layer of jam on the bottom half of the cake, leaving about 1cm margin on the outside and inside edges
• put around 2/3 cup of raspberry buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a plain 10mm tip; pipe a ring of buttercream on the margins you left on the outside and inside edges of the cake, creating a channel 
• scatter some raspberries in the channel and top with whipped cream, staying within the channel; keep left over raspberries and cream to serve with the cake
• carefully lift the top layer of cake, replacing it on the base layer; if your horizontal cut is a dodgy as mine, line the top layer to match any dips and swails on the base layer :) put the cake in fridge for 10 minutes or so to firm up
• place your chilled cake on a turntable if you have one, step one is the crumb coat, it uses a super thin coating of frosting to glue any loose crumbs to the cake
• starting from the top and working your way down the sides and into the hole through the centre of your cake, use an offset pallet knife to spread a layer of buttercream over your cake;  using the edge of your pallet knife or a cake scraper, gently scrape back as much of the frosting as you can leaving a super thin crumb filled layer behind
• return the cake to the fridge for at least 15 mins to set the crumb coat
• again with the offset pallet knife, cover your cake with a final thicker layer of frosting 

• keeping back around a heaped tablespoon of flaked coconut for a final flourish, combine the rest of the flaked coconut with the shredded coconut
• take small handfuls of coconut mix and gently press against the sides of the cake to coat, sprinkle over the top, adding a final scattering of coconut flakes
• slice giant slabs of cake with a serrated knife, serve with raspberries and cream and enjoy
• the cake will keep covered in the fridge for 3 days, perfect for night time raids, very Nigella ;)

quick raspberry jam

500g raspberries, fresh or frozen
75g caster sugar
zest and juice of 1 small lemon

• tip all ingredients into a small pan, set aside for 15 min, the sugar and juice will begin to soften the berries
• bring to the boil over medium heat, turn the heat to low and leave to gently bubble for 15 minutes, the jam will thicken and the berries will begin to break down
• remove from the heat and pour into a clean jar, put the lid on and store in the fridge until you are ready to use (dishwasher clean will be fine, no need to sterilise as you should use all the jam for this recipe; if you double recipe, make it more than a day in advance or plan to store any left overs, best use a sterilised jar, there are many ways to sterilise jam jars and plenty of guides on the web, click here for an example)

raspberry swiss meringue buttercream

3 large egg whites
180g caster sugar
230g butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature

1/2 cup raspberry jam, warmed and strained to remove seeds
pinch salt
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

• combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, place over a pan of simmering water, don't let the pan touch the water; whisk constantly until the temperature reaches 72ºC 

• return the bowl to the stand mixer and whisk on medium high until the mixture cools, has doubled in size and forms stiff peaks
• change to the paddle attachment and add the butter a piece at a time, mix to incorporate each piece before adding the next; the mixture may look alarmingly curdled at times but keep mixing and it will magically come back together
• once all the butter is in, add the salt and vanilla seeds, mixing on slow until combined, finally add the cooled strained jam, again mixing slowly to combine

• the frosting should be firm enough to scoop, if it's too soft, put it in the fridge to firm up, checking in 5 minute intervals until it is ready
• buttercream will keep for a week in an air tight container in the fridge, allow to soften at room temperature before use

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

vanilla yoghurt panna cotta

Need a simple, refreshing summer dessert? This could be the one! Yoghurt panna cotta has all the smooth decadence of regular panna cotta, but with half the cream switched for natural yoghurt there's a lightness and slight tang. I've been making it heaps, it's most popular in our house for brunch, with lots of summer fruit and crunchy granola.

I have a thing for little bowls and cups and like to serve my panna cotta in a mismatched collection, it allows me to cut back on the gelatine so it's only just set and melts as soon as it hits your tongue. They do look really impressive turned out onto a plate, if you like that little added stress, up the degree of difficulty and add an extra half sheet of gelatine :)

yoghurt panna cotta

2 sheets gold strength gelatine
150 ml thickened cream
150ml milk
80g caster sugar *
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
200ml pot set yoghurt

• place the gelatine leaves in a bowl of iced water, set aside
• tip the milk, cream, sugar and the half vanilla bean plus seeds into a medium saucepan, bring to a simmer over a gentle heat, take off the heat and set aside
• take the gelatine leaves out of the bowl and squeeze gently to remove the excess water; add to the pan and stir until dissolved, strain through a sieve into a bowl
• add the yoghurt, and using a whisk, stir until combined
• pour into your serving bowls, take care not to splash the sides, cover and pop in the fridge for 4 hours, or until set
• serve chilled with fresh fruit; if you want to turn the panna cotta out, dip the bowl into hot water for a couple of seconds, place your serving plate over the panna cotta in its bowl, quickly turn over, give the bowl a gently tap, and your panna cotta should slip out onto the plate - if this fails, run a sharp knife around the edge of the panna cotta and try again

serves 4-6 (if you want to be precise... measure 125ml panna cotta mix per person to serve 4, 100ml to serve 5, and 80ml for 6 with a bonus spoonful for the chef)

* you can replace the sugar with 10 sachets of Equal Next for a lower kj version

Saturday, 14 November 2015

layered citrus chiffon cake

ermahgerd it's nearly Christmas *takes deep breaths and reaches for the vodka*

This is the cake. The cake I only bust out for those special occasions; our family Christmas dinner last year, the instagram Christmas gathering at Emma's, a Cookrepublic workshop back in September. After the workshop Sneh posted the most beautiful image of the cake over on instagram and I've had so many requests for the recipe since. I wasn't planning to make it again for a while, but Sneh sent over some of her images for me to share, so here it is. 

Thank you so much Sneh, the photos are just gorgeous; most are from the workshop, just the first from the Christmas gathering. In all images the cake and tables were styled by Emma, she has mad skills.

Now the cake, it's a bit of a performance; the ingredients are expensive, it uses a tonne of eggs, and makes an unholy mess in the kitchen, but it's totally worth it, and when raspberries are in season it really sings...

citrus chiffon cake

6 eggs, separated
1 extra egg white
225g plain cake flour (if you can't find cake flour substitute with regular plain flour)
250g caster sugar
50g extra caster sugar
1tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
zest of one lemon, grated super finely
180ml freshly juiced orange juice
120ml canola oil, or similar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cream of tartar (not essential, but will stabilise the egg whites)

mascarpone filling, recipe below
yuzu curd, recipe below
2 punnets raspberries

serves 16

 preheat your oven to 170ºC

• combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt, sift into a the bowl of a stand mixer, if you have one, and with the paddle attachment mix through the 250g caster sugar and lemon zest
• make a well in the centre of your flour mixture, add the orange juice, egg yolks, oil and vanilla extract, mix until smooth
• in another, really large bowl whisk the 7 egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar then mix until you have soft peaks, gradually add the additional 50g caster sugar, whisking until you have firm peaks and the sugar has dissolved
• fold the egg whites into the batter in three stages
• divide the batter equally between 3 ungreasedunlined 20cm springform cake tins and bake for 30 minutes
• remove the cakes from the oven, and leaving them in the tins, immediately invert onto racks to cool;  expect the cakes to sink slightly in the centre as they cool, they'll form prefect shallow bowls to load with the filling :)
• when completely cool, to release the cakes, run a sharp knife around the inside of the cake tin, remove the outer ring leaving the cake sitting on the base of the tin. This next stage is a little tricky, slide a strong thread, I use dental floss, between the base of the cake and the tin, slide all the way through, pressing the thread against the base as you go, invert the cakes onto a flat surface and you're ready to assemble
• keep the neatest, most even cake for the top layer, place another layer, flat side down on your serving plate/cake stand and top with a thick layer of mascarpone cream, drop dessert spoons full of yuzu curd on top of the cream and swirl together, scatter with one punnet of raspberries. Repeat with the next layer, finishing with the final cake layer, flat side facing up
• you could simply dust the cake with icing sugar, or decorate as you like; I love Emma's floral creations, just watch out for poisonous flowers and foliage, and any that have been treated with chemicals
• slice giant slabs of cake with a serrated knife and enjoy
• the cake will keep covered in the fridge for 4 days, it doesn't make it past 3 in our house...

mascarpone filling

500g mascarpone
300ml cream

• tip the mascarpone into a mixing bowl, using the paddle attachment beat for 10 seconds or so, until smooth, add the cream, mix until smooth, thick and creamy
• store in the fridge until ready to use

yuzu curd

2 eggs 

2 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
80g cold butter
70ml yuzu juice (replace with any citrus juice if you can't source yuzu)

• whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar together then tip into a small pan with the yuzu juice and butter

• heat gently, stirring constantly, until the butter has melted and the mixture has thickened (enough to coat the back of a spoon)
• strain the curd through a sieve into a sterilised jar, cover the top with cling wrap as it cools to prevent a skin forming
• seal the jar and store in the fridge for up to two weeks

Monday, 26 October 2015

berries and cream chocolate cake

I made this cake one afternoon when my mother in law was coming over for afternoon tea. I don't usually go cake crazy on a Sunday afternoon, but she was about to go overseas for a couple of weeks so it seemed justified, and you know, cake... I posted a photo over on instagram and have had lots of requests for the recipe, thank you! It's basically this cake minus the hazelnuts, smothered in cream and topped with berries. Enjoy, with or without your mother in law :)

chocolate almond sponge

165g plain flour

25g cocoa powder
50g ground almonds(almond meal)
80g butter  
7 jumbo, or 8 large, eggs at room temperature
200g sugar
2 punnets of berries

• preheat oven to 160ºC, butter and flour two 20cm cake tins

• melt the butter in a small pan over a gentle heat, allow to cool (feel free to use the microwave, if a small child hasn't set fire to it attempting to pop corn or defrost a muffin, we don't have a great track record with microwaves...)
• tip flour, cocoa powder and ground almonds into a food processor, blitz for 30 seconds then repeat
• sieve the mixture over a large bowl, if there is more than a teaspoon of nut rubble left in your sieve, repeat the processing stage, sieve your nut/flour/cocoa mix twice more
• using an electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer this takes a while, whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and thick, it will take 6 to 8 minutes...
• sift a third of the flour mix over the eggs/sugar, fold in gently using a metal spoon; repeat twice more with the remaining flour then gently fold in the melted butter, make sure to lift the mixture from the bottom of the bowl as the butter will pool there
• divide your mix evenly between the tins, bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes, when cooked the cake will have shrunk away from the side of the tin, the centre will spring back when gently pressed
• gently run a knife around the inside of the tins and turn the cakes onto a cooling rack

ganache filling

175g dark chocolate

125ml cream

• finely chop the chocolate, put into a small heatproof bowl

• heat the cream in a small pan until just simmering, simmer for 1 minute then pour over the chocolate, do not stir, let stand for 5 minutes
• stir cream and chocolate until smooth and glossy
• cool at room temperature until it is thick enough to hold its shape, think smooth peanut butter; you can put it in the fridge to speed the process up, but the ganache will lose some of its gloss

cream filling

500ml whipping cream
200g mascarpone
2 tbsp caster sugar
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
40ml ameretto, optional

 combine the ingredients in a bowl and whip together until soft and pillowy

to construct the cake

• choose the neatest cake, keep this for the top layer
• place the bottom cake layer on a turntable if you have one, not essential but will make the job  easier, spread with a thick layer of ganache and top with a layer of berries
• spoon roughly 1/3 cream filling onto the centre of your cake, gently spread outwards, stopping just short of the edge; when you add your top layer it will squish the cream to the edge
• gently top with the other layer, bottom side up
• put the cake into the fridge for about 10 minutes to firm up, this will make it easier to frost
scoop half the remaining cream filling onto the top of your cake, and using an offset pallet knife (again not essential but easier) spread the cream to the edge of the cake, pushing it slightly over the edge
• using the left over cream and the cream that you pushed over from the top, coat the sides of the cake, then use the edge of your pallet knife or a scraper to remove the excess cream, hopefully leaving a neat edge
• there will be a small rim of frosting that sticks up over the top of your cake, again using a pallet knife (such a nifty tool) gently drag the frosting towards the centre of the cake
• decorate with the remaining berries, serve straight away or pop into the fridge, take it out about half an hour before you plan to eat it

I really wasn't planning to blog this when I took the photos, apologies for all the lines and crazy angles, hope they don't hurt your head ;)