Sometimes simplicity is best. There’s a temptation to create cakes with loads of layers, lots of flavours and toppings galore, and there’s no doubt that experimenting with baking like that can be exciting and challenging, but sometimes it’s good to get back to basics, classic flavours and just make a great, plain cake.
I decided to do just that with this chocolate and cherry cake. I had been sent some samples to review from the lovely people at Sugar and Crumbs. I’ve used their products before, having found out about them at the Cake and Bake show in Manchester last year. I was on the Clandestine Cake Club stand, and Sugar and Crumbs were just opposite us – I ended up buying loads of packets of their flavoured icing sugars. They suggested something chocolatey for Mothering Sunday, and with my mum coming over to visit, I saw a perfect opportunity to come up with a decadent chocolate cake for her to enjoy.
So, this cake uses their cherry-flavoured cocoa powder and I wanted to keep it simple to really test out the flavour of the cocoa powder. The cake itself is an indulgent and moist sponge filled with a cherry conserve. It’s a great base mixture that you can flavour as you wish. It’s also really easy and takes no time to mix together!
- 225 g self raising flour
- 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder (cherry flavour)
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 175g golden caster sugar
- 3 free range eggs
- 150ml buttermilk
- 150ml sunflower oil
- 3 tablespoons golden syrup
- Cherry jam or conserve (I used Frank Cooper’s Red Cherry Oxford Conserve)
For the icing (optional)
- 100g soft butter
- 200g icing sugar (I used sugar and crumbs Black Forest flavour icing sugar)
- Splash of milk
- Fresh cherries to decorate
- Preheat oven to 150 (140 fan oven) and prepare two 8 or 9″ sandwich tins with paper and sides greased
- Weigh out the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together
- Using a mixer, whisk the eggs until they’re pale. Add the buttermilk, syrup and oil and give a quick whizz
- Divide the mixture between the two tins and pop in the centre of the preheated oven.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean and the sponge springs back to the touch.
- Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn the cakes out onto a rack to cool.
- Slather one of the sponges with cherry jam – I used about half a jar. Top with the other sponge
- For the buttercream, beat the butter until it starts to soften then add the icing sugar gradually, with a splash of milk. Keep beating until it’s light and fluffy.
Make sure you taste it lots along the way to make sure it’s the right amount of sweet!
- On top of the cold cake, whack the buttercream in whatever style you choose. I went for a bit of piping, just for a laugh (my piping is abysmal!) but swirled on with a palette knife looks just as good. Then top with some fresh cherries if you like. Take the stones out or leave them in…just warn people if you’re not pitting them. Ouch!
And that, my lovely people, is it!
So what’s the verdict. Well, the whole cake disappeared in one day, so that tells you something. The opinion of my tasters (mother, sister, four children, friends) was that the cherry flavouring in the sponge was subtle but definitely there. Sugar and Crumbs pride themselves on their flavours being natural, and we all agreed that the cherry flavour wasn’t synthetic tasting at all, and not too strong. It definitely added to the cake and we all liked it. Thumbs up. The black forest icing sugar in the buttercream was also really, really good! I used it with half normal icing sugar so the flavour wouldn’t be as intense, and that balanced nicely.
I’ve used several of the Sugar and Crumbs icing sugar flavours, and also the orange cocoa powder before (all bought by moi) and enjoyed the results of all of them, so I’d definitely suggest giving them a go. There are lots of flavours to choose from and they are a good way of adding an extra layer of flavour into your baking. I have a friend who made some lovely meringues (you can read her blog about them here) using raspberry ripple flavour icing sugar.
Disclaimer: I was sent these products to review by Sugar and Crumbs, but I have not been paid to write about them. All opinions are my own (and that of my cake testers!)