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Contrary to what a lot of people think, traveling for work is not fun. My blog and kitchen have been woefully neglected for the past 2 months and there is no end in sight. *sad face*. On the plus side, my hotel in Germany has breath taking views of the Alps. So breath taking that we always drive towards the Alps and nearly miss our exit. It’s also breath taking in the sense that it can smell of…farmland. Ahhh, the perks of working amongst cows, both literally and figuratively. But mainly figuratively. I digress…

Waaaaayyy back in the day when life as I knew didn’t consist of turning around laundry on the weekends, Ono asked me to make her a cake and I jumped at the chance to do so. Ono then sent me a recipe of a cake made by Lorraine Pascale, requesting that i make THAT cake for her. Let me get this straight. I am no fan of her and the recipe and “directions” only strengthened my dislike of her. Fold in 2 eggs and half the flour into the creamed butter? That made my batter curdle! (my eggs were not cold, and the butter was soft). The batter in Lorraine’s recipe was so thick that I had to add lots of splashes of milk. Experience tells me that baking in a deep 8″ tin will take an hour. But Lorraine only tells you to bake for 30-40 minutes. I tried to stay as true to the recipe as I could for Ono’s sake, but I had to make 2 cakes to get the height I wanted, and I made a Swiss Meringue Buttercream instead. I cut down the sugar in the cake but still found it too sweet. That said, everything worked out ok as the SMB balanced out the sweetness of the cake. I just wish I could have used my go-to recipe or my heavenly devil’s food cake recipe.

At the end of the day, I have to say that the cake was a success and it stayed moist and fluffy. Most importantly, the birthday girl loved it! So all is not lost :)

Chocolate Cake with Cigarillos and Raspberries
Adapted from here
 
(for a taller cake, double the recipe and bake in 2 tins)
200g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
4 eggs
140g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
milk. lots of it.
 
Preheat the oven to 180C and line 2x 20cm/8in round deep cake tin with greaseproof paper.
 
Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add half of the eggs and half of the flour and mix well. Add the rest of the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder and beat until combined. If the batter is too thick, add in a little milk at a time, mixing well. Dollop into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.
 
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1 cup sugar
5 large egg whites
453g unsalted butter, cubed
 
Place sugar and egg whites in a heat proof bowl. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk constantly until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch. The mixture between your fingers should feel completely smooth when rubbed between fingers.Remove bowl from heat. Using an electric mixer, beat on high speed until mixture has formed stiff and glossy peaks. Add the butter, one cube at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don’t worry if the buttercream appears to curdle; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla beans and beat just until combined.
 
Decorations
400g chocolate cigarillos (about 75–80 in total)
400g raspberries, or any berries/fruit of your choice
 
Assembly
Tort, level and split each cake into 2 layers. Brush off crumbs. In the meantime, make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Place some buttercream in a baggie and snip off the end. Pipe the buttercream around the edge of the cake and place a dollop of buttercream in the middle. Spread and even out the buttercream. Place a layer of cake on top and repeat until all layers are filled. Crumb coat and chill for at least 30 minutes.
 
Apply another layer of buttercream. Arrange cigarillos around the cake, making sure there are no gaps. Top with raspberries or fruit of your choice.
 
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