Friday, December 25, 2020


Chocolate cake is the epitome of traditional desserts. For as long as I remember, there has always been at least one chocolate cake at the very centre of the family table, no matter the occasion or celebration. And with the end of the year and Christmas being so very close, the time is right for a nice chocolate cake.
Silky white chocolate cream filling, tangy strawberry sauce, soft chocolate layers, all draped in a billowy double chocolate ganache, enriched with vanilla and honey. However, this charming little cake is assembled differently, showing that even the most modest-looking cakes can hide a treasure trove of flavours and surprises inside.
When assembling, work gently but swiftly, as the first roll will be the most delicate to form and transfer. With each new layer, it will become firmer and more stable to work with. Just be patient with it, and it will come together beautifully. Even if the first roll starts to crack while rolling, do not give up; simply speed up the rolling and continue, and it will be fine.

For the chocolate cake
125 grams plain flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
100 grams granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
10 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
50 grams extra dark chocolate, finely grated
50 grams strawberry jam, at room temperature
30 millilitres vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
250 millilitres whole milk
For the white chocolate cream filling
250 millilitres whole milk
40 grams cornflour
20 grams plain flour
100 grams granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
50 grams white chocolate, chopped into pieces
75 grams unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
small pinch of turmeric, optional
For the strawberry sauce
250 grams strawberries
50 grams granulated sugar
20 millilitres lemon juice
For the double chocolate frosting
100 millilitres double cream
75 grams dark chocolate
50 grams milk chocolate
30 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
20 grams honey
small pinch of salt

Start by making the strawberry sauce, as it requires some time to cool down and thicken up. Place the strawberries in a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in the sugar and lemon juice, and mash them lightly with a fork. Set the stove to medium high heat, and let the fruit come to a light boil. Once it starts boiling, mash it into a purée, leaving some of the smaller pieces of fruit throughout the sauce. Let it slowly bubble for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat, and let it cool down to room temperature.
Next, make the white chocolate cream filling. Pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and sift in the cornflour and the plain flour. Whisk well, add in the sugar and vanilla, and whisk again. Place the saucepan over medium high heat, and as soon as it starts to steam, start whisking. From the moment it starts to boil, let it cook for about 2 minutes, or until it starts resembling a smooth, thick pudding. Remove from the heat, whisk in the salt, and let it cool for a minute or two. This will help the chocolate and butter blend more easily into the pudding. Add in the pieces of softened butter, one at a time, alternating with the white chocolate, whisking constantly, until incorporated. Blend in the turmeric, if using. The filling will be glossy and smooth. Cover the top with cling film, and let it cool down to room temperature.
To make the chocolate cake layers, sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder into a large bowl, add in the sugar, salt, and grated chocolate, whisk well, and set it aside. In another large bowl, whisk together the strawberry jam and the oil. They need to be blended very well, so if the jam has pieces of fruit, using an immersion blender can help greatly, as this needs to be as smooth as possible. Once blended, add in the vanilla and milk, and mix again. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and whisk until combined. Take a large baking sheet (30x35 cm), and line it with baking parchment. Pour in the batter and level it as much as possible. It is rather thin, so it should distribute itself well. Bake the cake in a preheated oven, at 200°C, for about 7-8 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the very centre comes out clean. The cake will be very thin and soft, so let it cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet, and then remove it to a wire rack, with the baking parchment still attached, and let it cool to room temperature.
Before starting the assembly, whip the white chocolate filling with an electric mixer on high, until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. This will make it lighter and much, much easier to spread. When everything is ready, start assembling the cake.
Trim the edges of the chocolate cake, about a centimetre on each of the sides, and then cut it vertically in three equal strips. This is best done by using a kitchen ruler, for easier assembly. When cutting, cut through only to the baking parchment, of course.
Gently and evenly, spread the white chocolate filling onto the cake. Take the time to do this; it does not need to be rushed. Next, take little dollops of the strawberry sauce, and place them all over the white filling. You can be as precise or casual as you like with the sauce.
Very carefully roll up the first strip of the cake, as you would roll up a roulade. Once that strip is nicely formed, place it onto the very beginning of the next strip, making sure the seams match, and roll the second strip in the same fashion. Place that roll onto the beginning of the remaining strip, and very carefully roll it up. At this point, you can roll the entire cake onto a piece of acetate, and use tape to give the cake more firmness, and make it easier to transfer. Place the rolled cake onto the serving platter, and let it firm up for at least an hour in the refrigerator, preferably two. While it is cooling, make the shiny ganache frosting.
Chop both types of chocolate into fine shards, so they melt more easily into the double cream. Place it into a large bowl, add the butter, honey, and the salt, and set aside. Pour the double cream into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and let it barely come to a boil. Immediately remove it from the heat, and pour it over the chocolate. Gently mix until it starts to mix and meld. Once combined, cover the top with cling film, and let it cool down and firm up, about an hour. When you are ready to frost the cake, remove it from the refrigerator, and let the cake stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Mix the ganache with a sturdy spatula until loosened up, and then frost the cake as desired. Return it to the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, and serve. Yields 16 servings. © Tina Vesić 2020