Sometimes a special cake is all that is required to make a good party great, says Michelle Darmody.
It is funny how the shape and height of a cake work on people’s perceptions.
I have found a square of brownie will never be received in quite the same, festive way as a wedge off a cake cut from a layered creation.
All of these recipes are good party cakes to be shared. Once iced they are best eaten on that day.
You can bake the cake the day before keep in an airtight tin and ice on the day of service. Airtight tins are better for storage than plastic boxes.
I add a layer of parchment above and below the cake and make sure it is completely cooled.
If all of the cake does not get eaten in one go you can cover it in with tinfoil and keep in a cool place rather than putting in back in a tin when iced.
I line all around tins when baking even if they say non-stick. I get far better results and it eliminates any worry about removing the cake when baked.
I cut a disc about three inches wider than the base of the tin, fold it in half, then quarter and then again so you get a thin cone shape. The point will be in the centre of your tin.
Now cut two slits three inches from the outer circumference so when you open the disc back out you have a full circle in the centre and series of pieces that fold easily into the sides of tin.
Amarena cherries come from Italy and are usually available in beautiful blue and white ceramic jars used by the Fabbri company which has been soaking cherries in syrup since the turn of the century.
Theses cherries are small and dark and not as sweet as their maraschino counterparts.
Their intense cherry flavour makes them great for baking and they work perfectly with chocolate.
Chocolate and cherry cake
Heat your oven to 160 degrees and line a 9 inch round loose bottom or springform tin.
Melt the butter, chocolate, coffee over a low heat and add 100mls of water.
Beat the buttermilk with the eggs and bread soda.
Mix the flours, sugars and coco powder.
Mix everything together then stir in the cherries and syrup. Scoop the cake batter into your prepared tin.
Bake for one hour and twenty minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for about twenty minutes then gently turn out on to a wire rack.
Beat the butter and sugar for the icing until smooth and stir in the mascarpone until combined.
Slice the cake into three discs and spread a layer of cherries on each disc then place them back together. Top with the icing.
Beetroot cake with cream cheese icing
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a 7 inch round springform or loose base tin.
Melt the chocolate chips over a saucepan of boiling water, do not let the steam into the chocolate.
Once it has melted mix the ground almonds, sugar, baking powder, coco powder, grated beetroot and the egg yolks into it.
Whisk the eggs whites until stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the rest of the ingredients and scoop into the prepared tin.
Bake for about 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
Date, walnut and dried apricot cake
Heat your oven to 180 degrees and line an 8 inch round loose base or springform tin.
Sift flour into a bowl and mix with the rest of the dry ingredients.
Add the oil, grated carrot and parsnip and stir.
Add the eggs one at a time and stir. Finally add the vanilla essence and stir once more
Pour the mixture into your tin and spread it evenly. Bake for an hour and a quarter. Stick a skewer into the centre, if it comes out clean the cake is cooked, if not put it back into the oven for five minute intervals.
Cool before removing from tin and allow to completely cool on a wire rack.
Slice the cake into three discs and spread a thin layer of icing on each disc then place them back together. Ice the top and sides of the cake.
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