This indulgent chocolate cake, courtesy of Miranda Gore Browne is fun (if a little messy) to make and reminiscent of pretty speckled eggs. It's also a great way to celebrate British food and farming this Easter.
Makes a four layer cake, 4 x 7 or 8 inch sandwich tins will work well.
- 400g unsalted butter
- 200g soft brown sugar
- 200g caster sugar
- 2 tsp of vanilla extract or bean paste
- 8 eggs
- 400g self-raising flour, sifted
- 100g cocoa powder, sifted
- A pinch of sea salt
- 2 tsp of baking powder
- 100ml of milk
- 80ml of hot water (boiled)
- 100g milk chocolate, melted
For the buttercream:
- 375g unsalted butter, softened
- 1200g icing sugar, sifted
- About 6 tbsp of semi-skimmed milk
- 2 tsp of vanilla bean paste or extract
- A pinch of salt
- 400g mini eggs (you will need 300g to fill the middle of the cake)
- A few dabs of pale pink, yellow or blue paste colouring (or leave as natural vanilla coloured) – add a tiny dot at a time and mix well before adding more or it may go too bright
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line four cake tins.
- Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, then put to one side to cool.
- Cream the butter, sugars and vanilla until light and creamy.
- Beat the eggs in a jug and add to the mixture a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Gently sift in the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa. Mix to combine.
- Add the milk and hot water then mix until smooth. Spoon in the cooled, melted chocolate and fold in.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared tins and bake for about 20-25 minutes.
- Leave to cool in the tins until completely cold. To make the buttercream:
- Put the softened butter into a large bowl or a mixer.
- Beat the butter for about 3 minutes.
- Add about a third of the icing sugar, 2 tablespoons of milk, the salt and the vanilla extract. Beat again.
- Add the remaining icing sugar and milk and mix until you have a smooth and creamy buttercream.
- Add the colour paste to half of the buttercream. Use the uncoloured between the layers and the coloured on the top and outside. To assemble the cake:
- Once the cakes are completely cold, use a sharp knife to level the tops so they are all flat.
- Adding the little chocolate eggs into the middle is optional, but if you would like to do this then use a small, round pastry cutter to cut a hole in the middle of three of the cakes, you need one left intact for the top layer.
- Put a circle of buttercream onto your cake stand and place the first cake on to this, press down gently.
- Add a layer of buttercream and put the next cake on top. Repeat until you have used all three cakes.
- Pour the mini eggs into the hole in the middle of the stacked cakes then buttercream the top of the third cake and press the last cake on top. Leave to stand and firm up a little before icing the outside of the cake.
- Smooth a thin layer of buttercream on the top and outside of the cake – this will be your crumb coat. It will gather up all the little bits of chocolate cake crumb and stop them sticking to the top layer of buttercream.
- Leave to stand until the crumb coat is firm, this will take about an hour.
- Beat the remaining buttercream to make sure it is creamy and smooth, add a little more milk if it has dried out a bit. Spoon the buttercream onto the cake and use a palette knife to smooth it over as evenly as possible. To make the speckled egg effect:
- Mix a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder with 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract in a small cup, add a little clear alcohol (a teaspoon or two of vodka) if it needs loosening a bit more. It needs to be quite stiff.
- Cover the work top with baking paper or tea towels.
- Use a small brush then flick the chocolate loaded brush against your finger so it spatters onto the cake. Decorate with little eggs and edible flowers or Easter biscuits. And enjoy!