Friday, December 19, 2014

South Africa's Best Chocolate Cake

I think it's about time I share with you all the recipe for South Africa's Best Chocolate Cake. I know I've been bragging about this a little (I do deserve to though), and I've been promising the recipe for a while now. A wise person once said, no good story starts with a salad, and I couldn't agree more!

This story starts with my Gran. She found the Best Chocolate Cake Competition in the Sunday Times and insisted I enter, she even drove out to drop the article off at my house so I could get all the details. I literally left it to the last minute, after contemplating entering and thinking up ideas for my cake (the cakes had to be original), I entered in the last couple of days. Shortly after entering I got a phone call from Hillary Biller, food editor for Sunday Times, she called to tell me that out of hundreds of applicants I had been shortlisted to the final 6. We were to compete in a bake off at Sandton City Shopping Centre on 14 September 2013. I could hardly believe it!

So on the 13th of September the finalists met up with a few of the judges, we had drinks, followed by a wonderful dinner at The Walnut Grove in Sandton City, we spent the evening making new friends and chatting about baking and food in general, it was clear to see that everyone at the table had a passion for good food! After dinner we set off to take a sneak peek at our bake stations for the next day.
Then it was off to bed, we spent the night at the Sandton Sun in complete luxury, but with hearts racing and tummies full of butterflies it wasn't easy to fall asleep.

On the morning of the 14th we were up bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready for the day ahead. After a scrumptious breakfast we headed down to the bake stations and so it began, checking that all our ingredients were there, sending people to get what was missing, preparing our stations, setting our ovens, measuring out ingredients, prepping our pans and doing interviews with the press, there were soooo many cameras!!

At 11 we were told to start, this was some serious Masterchef stuff going on! Everyone was hurrying around popping cakes in the ovens, the area filling with a strong sweet smell of chocolate, it was incredible. About 15 minutes after I put my cake in the oven I realised I had forgotten to set the timer, I was panicked but kept my cool and decided to just wait and see what happened. In the mean while I prepped the decorations and chatted to the TV people.
After a few hours we had all finished our cakes and had them on display, photo ready! Not one cake was similar to the next, brandy, granadilla, orange and strawberries had all found their way into the mix! After a miniature photo shoot the judges got a bit of each cake and had to judge them one by one, this was nerve wrecking, waiting to hear the outcome. Eventually the winners were announced and much to my delight and surprise I came out on top! It was the most amazing feeling!

Ok! I think I've kept you long enough, so here it is, the recipe for South Africa's Best Chocolate Cake:

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups flour
¾ cups cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups sugar
½ cup oil
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease two 23cm round cake pans well using spray and cook.
2. In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together.
3. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla essence and beat with an electric mixer for about two minutes. Add the boiling water and mix until combined. The batter will be quite runny, this makes the cake nice and moist.
4. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes.
5. To test if the cake is ready, insert a toothpick into the middle of the pan. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Slide a knife around the edge of each cake to loosen it from the pan, turn the pan over onto a metal rack to cool.
6. Let the cake cool completely before icing.

Chocolate Ganache Icing Ingredients:
200g of chocolate (dark or milk or a combination)
200ml double cream

1. Heat the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over low heat on the stove until the chocolate melts.
2. Remove the pan from the stove and whisk the mixture until smooth glossy and thickened..
3. Put aside to cool and until the icing is thick enough to spread over the cake.

+/- 40 flake chocolates cut to size Fresh strawberries (washed) for decorating
150ml cream
1.5m Pretty ribbon of choice

1. Beat the cream until thick and spread in between the 2 layers of the cake. You can add a pinch of sugar to help thicken the cream.
2. Ice the entire cake with chocolate ganache icing.
3. Thinly slice the strawberries and arrange them in fans ontop of the cake. They should be placed along the edge of the cake, leaving the centre of the cake open for decoration/candles, etc or for more strawberries.
4. Stick the flake fingers to the icing around the sides of the cake ensuring the entire cake is “surrounded” by flake fingers.
5. Once the entire cake is covered tie the ribbon around the cake.

Serve and enjoy!!

If you give my cake a try please do let me know what you think! I hope you enjoy baking it as much as I do, and I'm sure you're going to love it!
**Photo's taken by myself, Mariaan De Klerk and The Sunday Times

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