- Serves: makes 1 cake
- Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Prep Time: plus soaking overnight
- Effort: medium
For the cakes
- 50 g golden sultanas
- 25 g dried cranberries
- 25 g dried blueberries
- 200 ml amaretto (almond liqueur)
- 370 g plain flour
- 450 g unrefined light muscovado sugar
- 150 g Valrhona cocoa powder
- 225 g unsalted butter
- 4 medium eggs
- 185 ml double cream
- 1 tsp Maldon sea salt
- 385 ml hot water
For the amaretto ganache discs
- 500 ml double cream
- 50 g unrefined light muscovado sugar
- 450 g 70% Valrhona dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- 10 amaretti biscuits
- 200 ml amaretto (almond liqueur)
- 11 chocolate truffles, (see cook's note below)
Tips and Suggestions
Paul says that this moist, indulgent, popular and moreish chocolate cake recipe is the one he uses when making all his chocolate wedding and celebration cakes.
Simnel cake has a layer of almond paste baked through the centre of the cake. For those who can't stand the stuff, or simply just for a change, Paul's alternative is to replace the almond layer with an amaretto biscuit ganache in the centre and on top of the cake.
Traditionally, almond paste is put on top of a simnel cake and almond paste balls, or egg shapes, are placed around the edge to represent the 11 disciples (minus Judas). In this version, 11 chocolate truffles are used to represent the 11 disciples.
1. For the cake: put the dried fruit into a non-reactive bowl, sprinkle over the amaretto and leave to soak overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Line a 20-25cm loose-based cake tin with parchment paper.
3. Put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and butter into a large mixing bowl and rub together with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
4. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and cream together.
5. Dissolve the salt in the hot water and add to the egg mixture.
6. Blend the egg mixture into the dry ingredients with a whisk, mixing until smooth. Mix in the soaked dried fruit.
7. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
8. Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
9. For the amaretto ganache discs: Put the cream and sugar into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the chocolate pieces and whisk until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
10. Soak the amaretti biscuits in the amaretto liqueur until soft, then combine into a paste. Mix this paste into the melted chocolate, giving a ganache with a slight texture, similar to almond paste.
11. Divide the mixture evenly between 2 ring moulds of the same diameter as your cake and put in the fridge to chill. If you do not have ring moulds or cutters of the right size, then line a tray, or your cake tin, with cling film and pour in the ganache. Chill, then cut to fit the size of your cake, if necessary.
12. Cut the top off the cake to level it, then cut your cake through the middle.
13. Put the top cake face down on a cake board and put the first disc of chilled ganache onto the cake. Put the remaining cake disc on top of the ganache. The bottom of the cake has now become the top. Put the remaining disc of ganache on top of the cake.
14. Using a hot palette knife, tidy any edges of ganache around the cake so that it is smooth and neat.
15. To decorate: quickly flash a kitchen blow torch across the ganache to give a glossy shine. Arrange the chocolate truffles around the edge on the top of the cake, with the Easter decoration of your choice in the centre.
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