Soooo impressed with myself, normally I am sooo critical of myself, but for once I'm actually pleased.
I baked the cake & made the ganache, put it in the fridge overnight to firm up. Then I coated the cake in ganache the next day, smoothed it out and put it back in the fridge. The brilliant part about using ganache as the 'crumb' coating rather than buttercream (which in my opinion is sickly and inedible in large amounts) is that you don't have to level off the cake, you just fill in the lower parts with yummy chocolatey goodness.
The recipes that I used for my chocolate mud cake & ganache are as follows:
250 g butter, chopped
200 g dark chocolate
2 cups caster sugar
11⁄3 cups water
1 teaspoon instant coffee
3⁄4 cup plain flour
3⁄4 cup self-raising flour
1⁄4 cup cocoa
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1. In a large saucepan, add the first 5 ingredients.
2. Melt together over a low heat until sugar is dissolved and butter and chocolate are melted. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
3. Sift plain flour, self raising flour and cocoa intoa large mixing bowl.
4. Add the cooled liquid and beat gently.
5. Add the eggs and mix gently.
6. Pour mixture into a greased cake tin and bake at 150°C for 1 3⁄4 hours.
My oven takes 2 hours, but a friend's oven only takes 11⁄2 hours to cook this recipe, so keep checking the cake.
This is the best mud cake I've eaten and best cake I have ever made. I have made it twice now and its so easy and delicious. A few notes of my own. The first time I made this cake which comes from Best Recipe's.com (click here to see), I started checking it every 5-10 minutes after the 1 hour mark. I stopped at 1hr 20mins but it was a little undercooked, and fell slightly in the middle, BUT after I put it in the fridge and ate it a couple of days later, it wasn't undercooked, it was awesome. This time I checked it at 1hr 15min and it wasn't quite done, so put it in for another 10 mins, and the scewer came out clean so I took it out. It barely fell this time, but I won't know if its overcooked until we cut it tonight. I think that it is going to be perfect, I just don't want it to be dry.
Another thing to note is that when you add the wet ingredients, regardless of how well the flours and cocoa are sifted, it gets very lumpy, lots of tiny lumps. I beat it with a wooden spoon and try and get rid of as many lumps as I can, but I couldn't get rid of them all, but it worked fine. I like that there are no double boilers to melt the chocolate, its just half of the ingredients in a saucepan, the other half in a bowl. Combine, pour in tin and bake. Its fabulous.
For the ganache, I put 200ml PURE cream (pauls brand) in a saucepan over a medium/low heat and bring to boiling point before pouring over 200g milk chocolate and 200g dark chocolate that I've broken up into individual squares. Leave it sit for a few minutes before stirring it together. If it doesn't all melt properly, pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds or so, and then you can whisk it a bit until its nice and smooth. I also added about a teaspoon of finely grated orange zest, just for something different. Then put it in the fridge overnight, and pop it in the microwave for 20 - 30 seconds to soften it slightly so its spreadable. It is absolutely delicious, and when cooled, it is quite firm so its a good base before the fondant goes on.
Once I finished the cake, and iced it (I forgot to take a photo unfortunately), I put it back in the fridge to firm up. When I applied the ganache, I should point out that at this stage I put it on plate I planned to serve it on, and then placed the plate on top of a non slip mat on top of a lazy susan so I could spin it around for ease.
Then it was time to colour my fondant. I initially thought I was going to use yellow, mainly due to the fact that it was a primary colour and I wouldn't have to mix two colourings together, but due to the fact there was so much silver already painted on the bug, I decided to go back to my original decision of purple and silver rather than yellow. It meant mixing the red & blue together, but I think it was a nicer choice. So I put a blob of red and a blob of blue in the middle of my fondant disk and I kneeded that sucker until it was all mixed through.
I have made this fondant before, and it worked out perfectly. Last time I made it, it was smooth, and easy to roll, and not crumbly or dry. Just right. The month was May.
This time around, it seemed different, drier, not as smooth. Not too sure why. After I finished kneeding all the colour through, and then rolled it out, you couldn't really tell it was dry, so I didn't worry too much. I had put a little water on my hands when kneeding to try and see if that would help, but I will have to do some reading to find out why it happened this time around.
I rolled it out the first time over my pastry mat, and it stuck, and broke, and it was awful. The next time I kept putting icing sugar behind it so it wouldn't stick after every few rolls. This time it was a success and I managed to cover the cake first time. I moulded it around the cake and cut off the excess. There are tiny little dry cracks around it, but you can only see it if you're looking with my critical eye, and overall it looks great.
Then I got got my sugar glue (tylose and water mixed together which I keep in a little jar) and pasted a generous amount in the middle. I positioned the bug on top and began gluing random flowers around the base to cover up the unsightly fondant edge. Then I scattered flowers strategically coming out from under the car and spraying over the side.
Once I was happy with the flower positions, I made dinner, fed Rylan and got to the business of painting centres on all the flowers. I decided to go with silver over purple as it seemed like a more logical choice. I also touched up any rough spots on the bug, and put an outline around the number plates to make them look more finished.
Not great photos, I know. It was a bit too dark, and I was using my Iphone. I will make sure to take lots of photos with my real camera today and when we cut into it and report about the party with them on Monday.
All in all, I feel quite satisfied with the outcome and can't wait to present it to my Nana and the rest of my family.