From the outside this looks like a simple chocolate cake, but cut a slice and its stunning secrets are revealed. Sarah Cook provides extra tips for achieving baking success.
‘Set aside a day in the kitchen to make this fabulous cake. I’m not going to lie, it is a labour of love to bake all the sponges. But the process is very simple, and all your effort will be rewarded when you cut the first slice and see the looks on everyone’s faces!’ Sarah Cook
Find the recipe here: Fudgy chocolate & orange gateau
Before you start...
Assemble all the equipment you need:
- 2 dessert bowls (1 for flour/cocoa, 1 for sugar)
- a measuring jug
- a teaspoon measure
- digital scales
- 1 small saucepan
- 1 small bowl for whisking
- 1 medium bowl for eggs/milk
- 2 large bowls (1 for whisking egg whites, 1 for assembling batter)
- 1 hand whisk, 1 electric whisk, 1 big metal spoon, 1 spatula
- 21 x 31cm shallow Swiss roll tin
- 2 x 20cm round sandwich tins
- baking parchment
Divide your kitchen into zones:
Create a tin lining and filling space that’s clean and clutter-free, a weighing and measuring area, and a mixing and whisking area (near a plug socket). Clear a table for cooling the finished sponges.
Run a sink full of hot soapy water. You’ll need to clean the electric beaters and egg white bowl between each batch or the whites won’t beat up, but I only cleaned my other mixing bowls, saucepan and equipment in between making the chocolate and orange sponges.
The cake can be chilled for up to 24 hrs, just take it out of the fridge 1-2 hrs before serving. But if you want the chocolate icing to have a shiny finish like mine, wrap in cling film before the last step. Make the chocolate icing freshly to decorate when you take the cake out of the fridge.
Step-by-step guide to assembling your sponges:
Cut each rectangular sponge into 2 long strips 7cm wide – trimming the long edges off will give you a neater finish. It’s important to be really accurate, so use a ruler. Trim the short edges to neaten. When you prepare the rolled-up sponges, just gently unroll first – don’t worry if they crack a bit.
Start with 1 chocolate and 1 orange strip that was rolled up to cool, and lay one on top of the other – but don’t line up the ends. Sit the second sponge about an inch down from one of the ends of the bottom sponge (it doesn’t matter which is chocolate and which is orange). Start to roll up from this end – the bottom sponge should roll up and over neatly on top of the second, so the middle of the roll is nice and tight.
Keep adding extra sponges and rolling up to make a giant Swiss roll but as you roll, the ends of each different-coloured layer won’t finish together (and this difference increases as the roll gets bigger). So you’ll need to add chocolate and orange sponges individually from now on, rather than sandwiching together first, then adding to the rolled cake.
Where each strip ends, you’ll stick on a matching sponge – so a chocolate strip always continues with another chocolate, and the same with orange
It’s up to you whether you find it easier to work as a roll...
...or to turn the roll on one of its flat ends to work with
Sit the rolled cake on one of its flat ends if you haven’t already. Spread a good layer of orange frosting over the top, then press on one of the round chocolate sponges.
Gradually spoon on, and spread over, the chocolate icing with a big palette knife. If should still be runny enough to gently run down the sides, giving you a shiny finish.
Tips to perfection:
I can’t stress how important it is to have the right-sized tin – just 1-2cm smaller will mean your sponges are marginally thicker and won’t roll as easily. If you have to use a tin that is 1-2cm bigger, reduce the cooking time of each sponge by 30 secs to 1 min. Thinner sponges won’t give you a problem rolling up, but if overcooked they’ll be drier, and may start to crack as you roll them.
Pushing the ends of each sponge strip tightly together as you add, and roll, will ensure no gaps at the end – so that when you cut in, every single slice will give you perfect stripes. The same applies as you’re rolling them in – keep it nice and tight.
Using up your leftovers:
You’ll inevitably have all the sponge trimmings, and probably at least one extra iced strip, left over. I used the iced strip to keep the vultures at bay while I finished the cake – here are some ideas for the trimmings:
Make a trifle Roughly chop the sponge trimmings and put in one large trifle bowl, or several individual ones. Drizzle over a splash of orange juice, then top with a good layer of chocolate custard (buy ready-made, or mix some melted dark chocolate into ready-made custard). Lightly whip some double cream with a bit of finely grated orange zest and a spoon or two of sugar. Pile on top, add a grating of chocolate and chill until serving. If it’s for grown-ups, swap the orange juice for orange liqueur.
Dice and freeze Dice into crouton-like chunks and freeze in a bag. When you’re next having a bowl of ice cream, scatter with some frozen cake chunks and top with your favourite sauce.
Let us know how you get on and feel free to ask any further questions in the comments below...