In an effort to continue shopping within the small clothing size section, I often have to give away copious amounts of cake. I try a piece of course but the cake has to be quickly snatched out of my hands and shuttled forth to another, less calorie concerned destination. This of course has the added benefit of making me a little popular, although I suspect that if the cake supply dried out, perhaps the popularity might too ;)
I usually try and bring the cakes and baked goods to suitable occasions. I have occasions-a-plenty this September. I have two baby showers, a hen's night, a birthday and a picnic. However none of these occasions were quite right to bring along a cake called "Delicious Death". I can't imagine a quicker way to bring down the mood for a baby shower or birthday than to haul out a cake called Delicious Death. I imagined people tsking and elbowing each other and whispering "Who invited the freak?".
The reason why I couldn't make this for Hallowe'en is because of the reason why this cake was devised. I first saw it on Cakelaw's delicious site and was immediately drawn to the name-Delicious Death. It was devised by British cake maven and actress Jane Asher for the Agatha Christie 120th anniversary on the 15th of September (yes I am a day late). The recipe was inspired by a passage in one of her Miss Marple books called "A Murder is Announced" in which housekeeper Mitzi bakes it for Dora Bunner's birthday tea. "'Impossible to make such a cake. I need for it chocolate and much butter, and sugar and raisins'" she tells her employer.
Asher herself acted in some of Christie's productions and was commissioned by Christie's grandson Mathew Prichard to create the cake. She describes it as "an intense, forbidding dark Belgian chocolate centre which is lifted by the unexpected sharp zing of its brandy-soaked cherry and ginger filling. The glorious assault on the senses doesn't end there: the cake is decorated with flecks of pure gold, sprinklings of crystallised rose and violet petals, and swirls of ganache piping. This paragon of a cake is as beautiful to look at as it is delicious and deadly? to eat."
The cake itself is a rich, very dark gluten free chocolate cake filled with a rummy mix of sticky, dried fruit and glace cherries. I know dried fruit is controversial. I have friends that won't even touch a cake if it has any in it and I know so many that won't eat fruit cake. If either applies to you, I won't say that this cake is for you but you could always make more of the ganache and fill it with ganache. However I should caution that the cake is already very rich and the fruit lightens it somewhat. Removing it from the filling and replacing it with chocolate ganache is perhaps one way to find yourself having an actual delicious death!
So tell me Dear Reader, and this might be a morbid question, but what do you want to eat at your last meal?
Delicious Death Chocolate Cake
Recipe by Jane Asher
175g/6 ozs dark chocolate drops (50-55% cocoa solids)
100g/3.5 ozs softened or spreadable butter
100g/3.5 ozs caster or superfine sugar
5 large eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
100g/1 cup ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
For the filling
150ml/5 fl ozs rum, brandy or orange juice
150g/5 ozs raisins
55g/2 ozs soft dark brown sugar
6-8 glace cherries
4-6 pieces crystallized ginger (I was out of this so I used more glace cherries)
1 tsp lemon juice
For the decoration
175g/6 ozs dark chocolate drops (50-55% cocoa solids)
150ml/ 5 fl. ozs double cream
1 tablespoon butter
10g crystallized violet petals
10g crystallized rose petals
1 small pt of edible gold leaf
Buyer's tip: crystallised violet and rose petals can be found at cake decorating stores or Coco Chocolates in Kirribilli. Edible gold leaf can be found at The Essential Ingredient.
Step 1 - Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC, (300ºF, 135ºC fan assisted). Grease an 8 deep cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment or silicone.
To this delicious, sticky, rummy goodness!
Step 2 - Prepare the filling: in a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients and stir over heat until the mixture is bubbling. Allow to simmer gently, while stirring, for at least 2 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thickened. Allow to cool.
Step 3 - In a small heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate drops over simmering water or in a microwave, being careful not to let it overheat. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
The chocolate mixture before the egg whites are incorporated
Step 4 - Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until very pale and fluffy. Separate the eggs, setting aside the whites in a large mixing bowl, and, one by one, add 4 of the yolks to the butter/sugar mix, beating well between each one.
Step 5 - Add the melted chocolate and fold in carefully, then stir in the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the ground almonds and baking powder, then stir them into the cake mix.
Step 6 - Whisk the egg whites until peaked and stiff, then fold gently into the chocolate cake mix. The chocolate cake mix may seem quite stiff compared to the whites so just fold carefully.
Ready for the oven
Step 7 - Spoon the mix into the prepared cake tin, levelling the top, and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 55-65 minutes, or until firm and well risen. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out on to a rack to cool completely.
I used a 9 inch pan. This is why you should follow the instructions and use an 8 inch pan.
Step 8 - Using a serrated knife, slice the cake in half horizontally. Spread the cooled fruit filling onto one half and sandwich the two halves back together.
Step 9 - To decorate: put the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and melt them together over simmering water or in a microwave. Stir in the butter to give it a gorgeous gloss. Place the cake on a rack over a baking tray. Keeping back a couple of tablespoonfuls, pour the icing over the whole cake, making sure it covers the top and the sides completely, scooping up the excess from the tray with a palette knife as necessary. Add any surplus to the kept back icing. Carefully transfer the cake to a 10 cake board or pretty plate.
Step 10 - Once the reserved icing is firm enough to pipe, place it in a piping bag (ensuring there are no large crumbs in it) with no. 8 star nozzle and pipe a scrolling line around the top and bottom edges of the cake. Leave for 2-3 hours, to set. Place the violet and rose petals into a plastic bag and crush them into small flakes. Sprinkle these liberally around the chocolate scrolls. Finally, with a cocktail stick or tweezers, pull off some small flakes of gold leaf and gently add them to the top of the cake.