(Serves approx: 70 portions)
For the sponge:
(You will need to make this twice)
-280g Salted butter (preferably at room temperature, if not zap it in the microwave till its about 10% runny)
-470g Caster Sugar
-9 x Large free range eggs
-470g dark brown sugar
-278g plain chocolate
-420 mls milk
-630g plain flour
-7tbsp cocoa powder
-2tsp baking powder
-2tsp baking soda
For the buttercream:
(You will need to make this twice)
-500g salted butter
-900g icing sugar
-100g good quality cocoa powder
For the decoration:
-1.5kg yellow fondant
-700g of candy melts in various colours
-Coloured sanding sugar (optional)
-Cornflour (for dusting)
You will also need:
-3 x 6”,8” and 10” loose bottomed round sandwich pans
-Free standing kitchen mixer
-Cake release spray/butter and flour for greasing
-Deep heavy bottomed saucepan
-6”,8”,10” and 15” round cake drums (available from specialist cake stores)
-A medium, wide brimmed bowl.
-Approximately 25 x 6” cake pop sticks
-As many kitchen cups as you have colours of candy melts
-A piece of polystyrene or something similar
-Small sharp knife
-2 x cake smoothers
-2 x meters of yellow ribbon
-6 x hollow plastic cake dowels
- Start by making your sponges. Preheat the oven to 180ºc.
- You will be making this recipe twice, baking the 10” cake first and the 6” and 8” cake together second. So to start, grease and line your 10” cake tins. To do this I spray the tin with cake release and line the bottom with a circle of greaseproof paper. It’s much quicker/less faff. If you don’t have the spray you can use regular butter and flour round the edges. Whatever you do, it’s important to still line the bottom.
- Sift together your flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl.
- Cut your butter into cubes and melt in a microwave until softened (about 10% liquid).
- In a deep, heavy bottomed pan, place your chocolate, milk and dark brown sugar.
- Bring your mix to the boil on a medium heat, occasionally stirring to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn. Once your mixture has boiled turn it off and remove from the heat. It can look a little bit separated sometimes but don’t worry.
- Whilst your chocolate mix is heating, use the paddle attachment on your mixer to cream the butter and caster sugar together on high speed until light and fluffy.
- Crack your eggs into a separate bowl and lightly beat, turn your mixer to low speed and gradually add them to your butter/sugar mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl occasionally to make sure everything is well incorporated.
- Add your flour mixture 1/2 at a time and mix until combined.
- While your chocolate mixture is still hot, carefully add it to your batter whilst your electric mixer is on low speed.
- Mix until combined but no more.
- Pour your mixture equally into your 3 x 10” cake tins
- Place in the oven and bake for approximately 22 minutes, if the sponge springs back when touched it’s definitely done. Insert a sharp knife into the centre of each cake, they shouldn’t be molten inside but if a wet crumbs come off it then you’re in for a nice fudgey chocolate cake. Each oven varies so you may want to put it in the oven for 5 minutes more or so if you’re not too confident its done yet.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and place the tins on a wire rack. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then turn the cakes out.
- Repeat all these steps but this time divide your mixture up between the 6” and 8” tins
- Once all your cakes are cooled, wrap them in cling film and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
- While you’re waiting for the sponges to cool you can make your buttercream. Cut the butter into cubes and melt in the microwave until softened (about 10% liquid) and put it into the bowl of your mixer.
- Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, attach the paddle beater and beat the ingredients together on a high speed until light and fluffy.
- Transfer the buttercream to another bowl and repeat the recipe again so you have double the amount. Set aside for the time being and grab your sponges from the fridge.
- Unwrap the sponges. Trim the domed tops level with a serrated knife and set the excess cake aside as you’ll be using it again later.
- Start with one of your 10” sponges, put a dab of buttercream down on the 10” cake drum and place one of your sponges on top. (This will help to secure it)
- Using a palette knife spread about 1cm worth of your buttercream on top of the sponge. Place your second sponge on top and do the same again. Place your final sponge on top, making sure the base of the sponge is facing the top so it looks nice and level. Wrap in clingfilm and return to the fridge. Do this again for your 6” and 8” cakes.
- While you’re waiting for your cakes to chill you can make a start on your cake pops. Get the cake crusts you set aside earlier and rub them between your hands over a wide brimmed bowl to make crumbs. Add a dab of buttercream and massage together until you get a fudgey dough. You may need to add a little more buttercream depending on how moist your crumbs are.
- Tare the dough into as many 30g portions as will allow and roll into balls between your hands. Place the balls onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper and put them in the fridge.
- Take your 3 cakes out the fridge and trim the sides down to within a few millimetres of their drum boards using a serrated knife.
- Work on one cake at a time. Set the cake on a turn table, smother the sides and top of it with buttercream. With the side scraper flush with the drum board, slide it across the side of the cake so you get a smooth clean side. Smooth the top of your cake with your palette knife, trying to keep the edges as sharp as possible. Return your cakes to the fridge once they’re all done.
- Now back to the cake pops. Fill the cups 3/4 full with candy melts, keeping the colours separate. Melt in the microwave according to pack instructions until runny.
- Take your cake balls out of the fridge, dip a cake pop stick about 1cm into one of your chocolate mugs and then insert the stick half way into the cake ball. Repeat until all you cake balls are on sticks.
- Starting with the first cake pop you put on a stick, dip it into one of your cups of coloured chocolate till completely submerged, take it out, give it a wiggle to remove any excess chocolate. At this point you can add sprinkles if you’d like (I’ve used coloured sanding sugar). After dipping each of your cake pops, leave to set upright by piercing the stick in your polystyrene. Put aside.
- Back to the cakes. It’s time to cover them! Dust your surface with cornflour. Knead and roll out half your fondant to a circle approximately 3-4mm on a work surface. If any air bubbles appear, prick them with a pin and push out the air. Keep lifting and turning the fondant to insure it doesn’t stick to the table.
- Take your 10” cake out of the fridge and place it next to your fondant. Scoop the circle of fondant up using both your forearms (dusted with cornflour), hold it centrally above your cake and then carefully lower it down and lay it over the cake. The fondant will hang like a table cloth. Quickly work out the pleats and press the smooth fondant against the side of the cake with the flat part of your hands, being careful not to dent the buttercream. If it feels sticky, dust your hands with more corn flower.
- Once you’ve reached the bottom of the cake, press the fondant against the drum board and remove the excess fondant with a small sharp knife.
- Dust your smoothers with cornflour and use to smooth down the sides of your cake. Cover your other two cakes and leave at room temperature.
- Now you need to stack your cake, you need to use dowels so the tiers don’t sink into each other as they can become very heavy. To dowel your cakes, start with the 10” cake. Using one of your 8” cake tins, place on top of the 10” cake and press down lightly so you have a guide circle. Remove the tin and insert 3 of the cake dowels down into the cake in an even triangle within this circle. Mark the dowels about 1mm above the surface of the cake and then gently pull them out, twisting as you do so.
- Cut the excess length off each dowel, double check they’re all exactly the same length and then re-insert. Repeat this with the 8” cake but use the 6” tin as a guide this time.
- Put a dab of candy melt onto your 15” cake board and place the 10” cake on top. Put a dab of candy melt into the centre of your 10” cake and put the 8” tier on top. Do this again with the final tier.
- Hide the gaps between the cakes with the ribbon secured in place by a dab of candy melt.
- Finally insert the cake pops into the cake randomly, stick first and you’re done!
- Your finished cake should last around 5 days or you can freeze any leftovers.