It’s my sister Beth’s 19th birthday today, which of course makes me feel very old. I’ve mentioned before what an amazing, smart, beautiful girl she is, but she’s going to have to listen to me say it all over again! In the last year especially we’ve become very close and have had a great many adventures, including our recent trip to Melbourne together. I’m so lucky to have such a great sister.
And of course no birthday is complete without cake! I have to admit, this cake is not the one I had planned. I’ve had so many utter baking failures lately! After making three batches of ugly macarons that were supposed to decorate the outside of the cake, Steph suggested an ombre icing style instead and everything clicked into place. Ombre, meaning going from dark to light, is a gorgeous trend at the moment. I was inspired by this blog, although my version is definitely more slap dash messy chic!
I used my new favourite chocolate cake in the world – David Lebovitz’s Devils Food Cake – which is almost impossible to mess up and produces a beautiful, rich cake every time. For the icing itself Beth requested our favourite cream cheese icing, which was lovely, but a swiss meringue buttercream would also work beautifully as well. What I love the most about the ombre effect is that it looks very impressive, but it’s actually not difficult to achieve. I even made a little video of how I decorated it! Enjoy…
Wishing a very very happy birthday to my dear sister Beth. Wishing you the best year ever xox
Chocolate Ombre Cake
Devil’s Food Cake (adapted from David Lebovitz)
• 200g unsweetened cocoa powder
• 3 cups plain flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
• 225g butter, at room temperature
• 3 cups caster sugar
• 4 eggs, at room temperature
• 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup strong black tea or coffee
• 1 cup milk
Cream Cheese Icing
• 500g cream cheese (2 packets) at room temperature
• 2 cups icing sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• Purple food colouring (gel or liquid – or any colour you like)
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and line 3 x 20cm cake pans with baking paper. Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, salt, bicarb soda, and baking powder in a bowl. Using an electric mixer with a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated and then mix in the vanilla extract.
Mix together the tea/coffee and milk. Stir half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then add the tea and milk. Finally stir in the other half of the dry ingredients. Spoon evenly between cake pans. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in tin about 5 minutes, then place on a wire rack and cool completely before icing.
Before you ice the cakes, trim with a serrated knife so each is level. To make the icing, place the cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until softened. Add icing sugar and vanilla and whip until smooth. Spoon about 1/5 of the icing into a small bowl, and add enough colouring until you’re happy for this to be the darker purple shade. Spoon another 1/5 of the icing into another small bowl, adding enough colouring for this to be the lighter purple shade.
To decorate, have a look at the video! Place the first layer of cake onto a plate or cake stand. Spread icing onto first layer with an offset spatula, and top with second layer of cake. Spread another layer of icing on the surface of the second layer. Top with the third layer, and then frost the entire cake with a thin layer of white icing – the crumb coat.
Now, starting at the bottom of the cake, spread a layer of the darker purple icing 1/3 of the way up the cake. Spread a layer of the lighter purple icing another 1/3 up the cake. Finish with the white icing, spreading over the remainder of the cake. Blend the icing with your offset spatula and serve.