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Friday, September 11, 2009

A Podtastic Birthday

I awoke this morning feeling hungover. Having not enjoyed even a drop of booze last night, I can only think that this is a sugar-induced hangover, induced by the massive slice of cake I scoffed around midnight.

It was a friend's birthday, and prior to midnight cake activities we first celebrated by going to The Ellington Jazz Club. I've been meaning to get down there since it opened around the start of the year, and after one false start when I had to cancel plans to go due to being too swiney for public interaction, I finally made it. It's pretty damn cool, and once this wet weather buggers off I can foresee myself walking down there for some jazz enjoyment of an evening. In addition to supplying you with Jazz and drinks, they also have a small tapas style menu, and we enjoyed the chorizo pizza and Turkish bread plate. Neither were spectacular, but pretty tasty and kept us going until cake o'clock.

It was after 11pm by the time the final set ended, and then we set off back home for "Phase Two" of the birthday celebrations. The birthday girl was unaware as to what Phase Two involved, but despite unsettling her with talk of greased up strippers we only had a (non-stripper) present and some cake to offer. Earlier in the week, not knowing what to get the birthday girl as a gift, I asked my housemate what tickles her fancy in terms of desserts, and was told she has a Pods obsession. And thus, a Podtastic birthday cake was born.

I decided to make a double layer chocolate cake, with a caramel filling between the two layers, finished off with chocolate frosting and dotted with Pods on top. I also decided to try out a new chocolate cake recipe, going with yet another recipe from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook. This recipe is actually for their "chocolate birthday cupcakes", but they also use it for one of the cakes in the small 'layer cakes' section in the back of the book so I thought I'd give it a go. I was quite happy with how the cakes turned out. Nice and even, with a moist crumb, and good chocolate flavour with just a hint of coffee to it.

For the caramel filling I thought I'd follow the Crabapple recipe for their "my not-so-secret caramel filling" but I wish I'd stuck to my own recipe! You see, their recipe involves boiling a tin of condensed milk for a couple of hours to make a caramel, then letting it cool and folding through a cup of whipped cream. The caramel was lovely and thick and rich, and I should have just used it straight as a filling, or thinned out with a little whipped cream. Instead I added the whole cup of cream as per the recipe, and the resulting mix was way too runny to act as a decent filler. You'll see in the photos how tiny and lame a filling layer I got, but at least the cake was moist enough so that it didn't matter too much for the cake's overall texture.

What happens to condensed milk after being boiled for two hours

For the chocolate frosting I used the usual chocolate fudge frosting recipe, making just half a batch of it.

The resulting cake was huge and heavy (in weight, not in texture!), and probably not the wisest thing to indulge in at midnight, but the heady jazz had make us reckless so we threw caution to the wind and went in with forks held high. Having barely made a dent in it, the birthday girl took half the leftovers home with her, and I'm taking the remains into my fortnightly research group meeting this morning to spread the cake love (and prevent my housemate and I from having simultanous sugar comas tonight).

Chocolate Birthday Cakes
Recipe from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook

Makes 24 cupcakes (according to them, anyway, I'd guess that you'd get more out of this recipe) or 2 cakes

3 cups plain flour
2 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 Tb instant coffee granules
1 cup hot water
1 cup cocoa
1 cup cold water
200 g softened unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 Tb vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Line either your cupcake trays with cupcake papers, or grease and line your two cake tins.
2. Sift together the flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coffee, hot water and cocoa until you have a smooth paste. Add the cold water and whisk until evenly combined.
4. In another separate bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the caster sugar a third at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. After the last addition, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
5. Add a quarter of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add a third of the cocoa mixture and beat until combined. Repeat this process twice more. Add the remaining quarter of the flour and beat until thoroughly combined; do not overbeat as this will toughen the mixture.
6. Spoon mixture into cupcake papers, filling each about 3/4 full. To prevent the cupcakes cracking on top, allow the mixture to sit in the cupcake papers for 20 minutes before baking. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before frosting.


6. Divide the mixture between the two cakes tins. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean (I actually had to bake mine for 48 minutes before they were ready).


Rilsta September 11, 2009 at 12:37 PM  

That cake looks sensational! And OMG, the caramel looks delicious too! I am yet to try the boiling the condensed milk tin trick, but using it for a cake filling is a great idea!

eatlivetravelwrite September 11, 2009 at 6:29 PM  

OK - super dumb question here - what are Pods????

Betty September 11, 2009 at 7:10 PM  

Oh how sweet of you to make this for your friend!! The chocolate layers look so lovely & moist... mmm...

Conor @ HoldtheBeef September 11, 2009 at 9:43 PM  

Rilsta - why thank you! I was scared the new fandangled ring-pull tins wouldn't be so robust in the boiling water, but it worked a treat!

eatlivetravelwrite - I think they're just in Aus, perhaps they came out after you left? Anyway, I hadn't eaten one before until yesterday but apparently they're pretty popular. They're little Mars choccies, of a little wafer holding some tasty innards, and come in various varieties - Mars Bar, Bounty, Snickers etc.

Betty - Aw thanks! Mind you, I don't need much encouragement to get baking :D

eatlivetravelwrite September 11, 2009 at 9:51 PM  

Conor - thanks for the info - will get my mum to send me some!!!

Trissa September 12, 2009 at 6:58 PM  

Looks very moist Connor... Very good idea to let the cupcakes rest prior to baking so that they don't crack. My cupcakes tend to always crack so hopefully this tip helps!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella September 12, 2009 at 8:05 PM  

Haha that's brilliant! I love Pods too and I'd much prefer this to a greased up permed stripper (seriously have strippers evolved from the 80s?).

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge September 13, 2009 at 5:50 PM  

oh wow, how decadent! Too bad about the caramel filling being pewny and not so great. Hmmm...do yu have any left?....I'd love a slice!

Iron Chef Shellie September 14, 2009 at 8:53 AM  

that looks totally awesome! I know of someone else who loves Pods.. might have to make it for them one day!

Brilliant idea!

I still haven't made anything out of that Crabapple cupcake book, the factory is just down the road from me and I haven't been... man i need to get my act together!

Belle@Ooh, Look September 14, 2009 at 12:15 PM  

That is an awesome cake! I'd like one of those for my birthday, please, with or without a greased stripper.

Pam September 15, 2009 at 3:45 AM  

What a beautiful cake...I'd love a slice with some ice cold milk please.

Chef Fresco September 15, 2009 at 6:11 AM  

Haha I hate when that happens, but with a cake like that, who can resist?!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef September 15, 2009 at 7:45 AM  

eatlivetravelwrite - aren't Mums the best? When I was living in Sweden, mine sent me a little parcel that included some of those Tim Tam ball things. They melted in the journey and formed a giant uber-ball that I had to take big bites out of, hehe.

Trissa - Thanks, I hope it works too! Although, there's nothing a bit of extra frosting won't fix ;)

Lorraine - Cheers! And, judging from my last hen's night experience, they have not changed at all since the Warwick Capper era.

Maria - if I did I'd send you one!

Iron Chef Shellie - Thanks! And hey, having it down the road from you means you DON'T have to make it yourself ;)

Belle - Thank you! Sure thing. Do you want the stripper to be jumping out of the cake?

Pam - thanks :) Some milk and cake for you, madam!

Chef Fresco - hehe thanks

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My love of cooking is surpassed only by my love of eating, though I never quite recovered from the beef I was served at college. I'll try almost anything once, but it takes a very special piece of offal or beef to get me to try it again.

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