Thursday, 3 October 2013

Recipe: Angel and devil's food cakes

Individual angel & devil's food cakes, as made by EJ
Hooray it's October - the month of Halloween! I have a true love for Halloween, in fact, I'd go as far as to say it's my favourite seasonal 'holiday' - even more so than Christmas.

This year I'm planning a whole month of baked Halloween treats - starting with these mini devil's food cakes. Little square dark chocolate sponges, sandwiched together with a rich white couverture icing, decorated with sugar paste angel wings and devil horns - and a LOT of golden lustre dust.

Devils food sandwich cakes
I was kindly sent a few packets of white couverture powder from the Mortimer Chocolate Company to experiment with. It's basically white chocolate, but without dairy, which is why it's called 'couverture' instead. Although I've used butter in this recipe, the powder is a perfect white chocolate alternative for dairy-free baking. The couverture has a velvety vanilla flavour - a very decadent white chocolate taste. The Mortimer website suggests substituting white chocolate for the powder gram-for-gram in recipes. In practice, I found it wasn't that simple to use, my first attempt at the icing never actually set - and the melted couverture took on a rather unattractive yellowy hue; I had the same issue attempting to make a basic ganache with the couverture by substituting like for like - so it's worth giving yourself time to experiment with this as an ingredient before diving in. Alternatively, there are lots of lovely looking recipes on the Mortimer website which might already cover off whatever you're planning to make. Anyway - this mishap led to the addition of icing sugar second time around, which provided the creamy white chocolate colouring in the icing and created a soft spreadable texture.

The sugar-paste decorations are a lovely touch for Halloween, although you could of course decorate these little cakes however you like. If you decide to go for the sugar paste toppers, I suggest that for best results you make these the day before, so that they have time to set completely before topping the cake.

I used this Sainsburys 9-cup individual traybake tin (each mini tin is 6cm x 6cm) to make the mini sponge cakes. Having been overwhelmed with cake recently, I kept this recipe to a very sensible quantity of just four finished cakes, although you could easily double (or triple) the recipe to bake more.

For the cakes:
50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa, grated)
30g soft light brown sugar
125ml warm milk
65g butter
50g caster sugar
112g plain flour
1/4tsp baking powder
1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg

For the icing:
35ml water
44g butter
10g soft light brown sugar
75g couverture
125g icing sugar
A few drops of red gel food colouring

For the wings and horns:
White sugar paste
Red sugar paste
Gold lustre dust

Special tools:
I used the 9 cup individual tray-bake tin, you could use a 20cm square tin and cut the small squares out (you may need to adjust the cooking time for this).

A food safe paintbrush (to apply the lustre dust).

A 3.5cm (length) leaf-shaped cutter (for the angel wings)

To make the cakes:
1) Lightly grease the individual cups in the traybake tin and pre-heat the oven to 180C (fan)

2) Place the grated dark chocolate and soft light brown sugar in a bowl. Heat the milk in a saucepan until it starts to simmer, then pour over the chocolate and sugar. Leave for a minute to melt the chocolate, then stir into a smooth mixture. Set to one side.

3) Beat the butter and caster sugar together until fluffy. Pour in the vanilla extract and add the eggs, while continuing to whisk.

4) Gradually sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, mixing gently to combine a little at a time.

5) When all of the flour has been added and is well combined into a smooth batter, pour in the chocolate mixture and stir until the colour is even.

6) Spoon the batter into eight of the individual cake cups, so that only a few millimetres remain at the top of each. Do not overfill, as the cakes will rise a little as they bake.

7) Bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 20 - 25 minutes, until the cakes spring back when gently pressed down with the tip of an index finger.

8) Cool for a few minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing:
1) In a saucepan, heat the water, butter and soft light brown sugar until the mixture bubbles

2) Remove from the heat and pour the couverture powder in, leave for a minute for the couverture to soften, then stir to combine into a glossy mixture. Leave to cool completely, stirring occasionally to thicken.

3) Once the couverture mixture has cooled to room temperature, sift in the icing sugar, mixing to form into a spreadable buttercream-style icing.

4) Split the mixture between two bowls and add a few drops of red gel food colouring to one, mix by hand until the colour is an even, vibrant red.

5) Sandwich two of the cooled cakes together with the icing - repeat with the others to make four little sandwich cakes. Spread additional icing on top of each mini-cake - then top with the devil horns of angel wings and sprinkle with lustre dust.

To make the sugar paste toppers:

The devil horns are relatively easy - roll two small balls of red sugar paste into cones, then bend the pointy ends of the cones inwards and press the bases flat against a clean surface. Leave to set, then paint with the gold lustre dust for a sparkly finish.

The angel wings are a little more time consuming - each one has approximately 45 feathers. Start by rolling out the white sugar paste to a thickness of approximately 3mm and cutting a leaf shape.

Pinch the base into a point so that the leaf tapers downwards on one side.

Roll out lots of tiny balls of white sugar paste (2mm wide approx)

Using a finger tip, press down on one side of each ball and pinch the other side to form tiny tear-drop shapes (these will be the feathers).

Press these onto the lower edge of the sugar paste leaf shape to secure.

Layer the feathers in overlapping rows until the entire leaf shape is covered.

Leave to set for a few hours, then paint liberally with gold lustre dust.

Repeat to make as many wings as you need. Enjoy - and stay tuned for more Halloween tutorials :)

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