Black Velvet Cake

I may sound like a crazy cake lady but the idea for this cake that came to me late one week. I thought that I had all my cakes baked for the week and then I bought some enormous blackberries and Tasmanian cherries from the land of the giants and then this came drew itself in my head.

This is a crazy rich chocolate cake that despite its name doesn't actually have a lot of chocolate in it. It gets its look from black cocoa, an ingredient I found at a cooking supplies store in Marrickville (Southern Cross Supplies). The black cocoa came in a huge bag and the problem with using it in place of regular cocoa is that everything I make turns inky black. Which isn't a problem unless you are photographing things like I do.

I had the idea of a super rich black chocolate cake tumbling through the back of my mind for a few weeks and then as fate would have it, I came across these glorious shiny, black blackberries and cherries. A Black Velvet cake it was! The frosting is a chocolate version of Jessica's wonderful buttercream-so smooth and silky that the shine echoed that of the polished fruit.

Other things that have been tumbling in the back of my mind was something a friend said to me recently. She said that I didn't notice when people were disapproving of me. It's quite true, I think I either deliberately or unintentionally miss it. And I realised that there were some things that I care about and there are things that I don't care about and the latter list gets longer the older I get.

Things I care about:

If I have an wittingly offended somebody or been rude to someone without meaning to.

Things I don't care about:

When people judge me without knowing my circumstances or make judgements on my decisions. I'm quite happily living my own life and I feel that anyone that cares to judge anyone else should probably be more concerned about their own lives.

But on that first point, once I accidentally offended someone and every time he is mentioned in conversation I cringe. I was overseas with a group of writers at a relaxed dinner and we had all just met the host. The topic turned to famous men having midlife crises and everyone was lobbing out names of people, mostly celebrities. I offered up Harrison Ford with his new earring and younger girlfriend.

Little did I know that the host sitting at the table had an earring in the ear on the side that I couldn't see. And when he turned his head I saw it and all the blood drained from my face. I didn't know what to say and I can't remember what I said but it involved some major nonsensical babbling. If I could have put my face in the bowl of soup in front of me I would have. And every time he is mentioned in conversation I want to bury my head in my hands...or this cake if it were near! If I could go back in time I would have just kept quiet. And my friends have tried to reassure me that he has probably forgotten or didn't give it another thought. But well you know me, crazy cake lady with her foot in her mouth!

So tell me Dear Reader, do you worry about a lot of things? Do you worry about how you are perceived or do you not care very much? Have you ever put your foot in your mouth like that?

Black Velvet Cake

An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

For cake

For frosting

To decorate

This will of course work with regular cocoa but it won't achieve that inky black shade.

Step 1 - Butter and line 2x20cm/8inch round tins. Preheat oven to 160C/320F. Whisk the sugar, flour, cocoa, bicarb and baking powder in a large bowl. In a large jug measure the buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat in the eggs and then the water. Mix gently into the flour mixture in 3-4 lots along with the chopped chocolate. Divide among the two tins and bake for 30 minutes.

Step 2 - Fit a beater attachment to your mixer and beat the butter, sugar and cocoa together on low speed for 1 minute and then increase it to a speed of 3 out of 10 for 3 minutes. Add the water and vanilla in at low speed and beat on the same speed (3 oout of 10) for another 5 minutes or until the sugar no longer feels gritty between your fingers.

Step 3 - Trim the tops off the cakes (I made cake pops with the extras) and then slice each cake in half horizontally using a cake leveller (I am pretty hopeless at achieving a straight slice with a knife). If you have time, please cover and freeze the cake layers so that they are easier to ice. Spread the buttercream between each layer of cake and then coat with more buttercream (the cake isn't overly crumby so I didn't really need a crumb coat).

Step 4 - Fit a piping bag with a 1A tip and fill with some of the buttercream and pipe dollops around the edge of the cake. Then top with black cherries, blackberries and sprinkles.