Shiraz Chocolate Cake

It's been a very stressful last few months; with my boyfriend getting so sick and the awful university study catch up that came with it. Luckily it's all done now and Simon is getting better. We're actually spending a week in the Coromandel which so far has been so nice to just unwind forget about the stresses of life and remember what really matters. During my rough ride through Simon's illness I've realised a few things;

1) I should not take my health for granted - truth is you only start to appreciate it once someone close to you almost loses their's...
2) Who my real friends are 
3) To not take life quite so seriously 

I finished my exams last Friday and started off my summer by baking my Dad a Shiraz Birthday cake on Sunday. I'm really pleased with how this turned out! Its a monster cake, prepare for richness.

How to make this rich Shiraz Chocolate cake:

The cake:
  • 2 cups of self raising flour
  • 2 cups of caster sugar
  • 5 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of crushed sea salt
  • 1 cup of extra light olive oil (you can also use sunflower or canola)
  • 2 whisked eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • ½ cup of your favourite Shiraz (I used Talyors Promised Land Shiraz)
The buttercream:

  • 1 cup of Shiraz
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 225g of softened butter
  • 3 cups of icing sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • An extra slash of Shiraz
To finish:
  • 500g of good quality dark chocolate (I used Whittaker's 72% cocoa Dark Ghana)
  • Half a punnet of blackberries
In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and sea salt. 

One at a time, in this order mix in the olive oil, eggs, wine and vanilla essence. 

The mixture needs to be added to a 9 inch round baking pan thats approximately 1.5 inches deep. Grease the pan and bake in the oven at 180C until its done. I never usually specify a time because all ovens are different and depending on your oven and the pan you chose the time to cook the cake will vary, I usually go and check the cake when I can smell it around the house. Then I stick a knife inside and see if its clean. If so, take it out and allow it to cool completely. My cake took about 45 minutes to cook. 

All my cakes that I use oil in end up with this cracked effect on the top. It's fine if its going to be covered in frosting anyway and it adds a real gooey-ness to the cake so its worth it :) Also better for you!

To make the Shiraz buttercream:
  • 1 cup of Shiraz
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 225g of softened butter
  • 3 cups of icing sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • An extra slash of Shiraz
Pour the 1 cup of Shiraz and the caster sugar into a saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve and form a syrup. This now needs to completely cool or it will melt the butter later.

Once cooled the butter and the icing sugar to create the buttercream. Add the syrup you made so you get a pink buttercream. Also add the extra splash of Shiraz. 

Assuming the cake is cool, cut it in half (preferably with a cake cutter so you have even layers). Take the bottom layer and add all of the Shiraz buttercream onto it. The idea is to get a very even and thick layer onto the cake. It takes some effort to get it even - it needs to reach the edges!

Next put the other layer of cake on top to make a sandwich. Because you made sure the buttercream was all even it should lie flat on top of the Shiraz buttercream. 

Break the dark chocolate up into chunks and melt over a low heat in a saucepan. Once melted and cooled just slightly, pour over the cake. I put the cake onto a cooling tray over the top of a plate to I could cover the sides without it building up at the bottom. It takes some effort and a bit of time to get the chocolate all evenly coating the top and sides of the cake. Once you've run out and the plate if getting full, pick the tray up and transfer to another plate and use the used plate to pour the chocolate back on. 

Once the cake is all evenly coated stick as many blackberries as you like onto the cake. I chose blackberries because I think they go really well with the Shiraz. Especially this one which I find to be quite blackberry like in flavour. 

The cake needs to set if possible. In the New Zealand summer this is hard to I needed to put it in the fridge for 10 minutes. It didn't totally set but I found that slightly melted is easier for cutting and gives the cake an extra gooey-ness. 

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