Im writing this having just heard that this cake was enjoyed by its recipients, a message ive been waiting for all weekend because this is the first cake I have ever been paid to make. People in my office are obviously aware I would rather be baking then sat in front of a computer and so at the end of last year I was asked if I could bake a cake for an 18th birthday. After the cake was chosen and made I waited, slightly nervous, to hear that it was good. Thankfully it was apparently great and I was so pleased because it makes me feel that maybe I can do this for a living. The cake comes from my favourite baking book of 2009, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. Its a interesting recipe because it uses a frosting I had never heard of and hails from the depression era in America. You cook milk, cream, sugar and flour until thickened and then beat the butter into this (cooled down) mixture. It uses less sugar so isn’t as sweet but does use lots of butter. Its of course named after the Grasshoper cocktail but could just as easily be called the After Eight cake because its chocolate layers with a ganache filling and a peppermint buttercream. Because this wasnt baked for me or my family and friends I never got to try it but am reliably informed it went down a treat.I know this list of ingredients and steps seems intimidating but its pretty straightforward and looks wonderful when finished.
3/4 Cup Dark Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/4 Cups Hot Water
2/3 Cup Sour Cream
2 2/3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
3/4 Cup / 1 1/2 Sticks / 170g Unsalted Butter, softened
1/2 Cup Vegetable Shorteneing
1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Firmly Packed Dark Brown Sugar
3 Large Eggs, room temperature
1 Tblsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325F / 160C. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter this too. Dust with flour knocking out any excess. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl combine the cocoa, hot water and sour cream. Whisk together and set aside to cool.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
4. Add the butter and shortening to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle and beat on medium until light, fluffy and ribbonlike, around 5 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for about another 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Give the sides of the bowl a scrape and give one last mix for 30 seconds.
6. Add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the cocoa mixture, starting and ending with the flour.
7. Divide equally amongst the three pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 35 to 4o minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes before inverting out to cool completely.
Creme de Menthe Buttercream
2 1/4 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
2 1/4 Cups Milk
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
4 1/2 Sticks / 510g Unsalted Butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
2 Tbslp Creme de Menthe
2 1/4 Tsp Peppermint Extract
(if you dont have creme de menthe or dont want to use it substitute 1 Tbslp Vanilla Extract and 1 tsp green food colouring)
1. Add the sugar and flour to a medium saucepan and whisk together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat whisking occasionally for about 20 minutes until thickened.
2. Transfer the mixture to your mixer and beat, with the paddle, on high speed until cooled to room temperature. This might splatter a little so you may want to cover with a tea towel. Turn the mixer to low and add the butter beat on low until thoroughly incorporated and then turn the mixer to medium high and beat until light and fluffy.
3. Add in the flavouring and beat to combine. Put the buttercream aside while you make the ganache.
Mint Chocolate Ganache
6 Ounces / 170g Dark Chocolate (60 to 72% Cacao), coarsely chopped
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Tblsp Creme de Menthe
1/2 Tsp Peppermint Extract
(if not using creme de menthe leave the ganache plain)
1. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside. Bring the cream just to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for 2 minuted before gently mixing the chocolate and cream together until emulsified. Add the flavourings and stir to combine.
2. Mix for a couple more minutes to help cool then let the ganache sit for about 15 minutes.
1. Place the first cake layer on a serving plate or cake drum. Trim the top if not level. Using a small offset spatula spread about 1/4 cup of ganache on top of the cake layer. Put the cake in the fridge for 1 minute to firm up. Spread about 1 1/4 cups of buttercream on top of the ganache. Top with the second round and repeat. Add the third layer and trim.
2. Crumb coat the cake and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Frost the the side and top of the cake with the remaining frosting and decorate as you desire. The cake will keep very well, if covered, for 3 days. If the room is not cool or is humid you can keep covered in the fridge but remove the cake at least 2 hours before serving.