When I worked in Hummingbird Bakery in London we made a black bottom cupcake. I always chuckled when I heard someone mention the name (for obvious reasons!). I had the idea to turn this black bottom cupcake into a black top and bottom layer cake with a white sponge in the middle, covered in a meringue that gets blasted with a blowtorch ... and here it is!
First make the chocolate sponge layers. Melt the butter in a pan over a low-medium heat and then remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate, leaving it for a few minutes to melt. Once the chocolate has melted, stir the mixture until smooth and leave to cool down to room temperature.
Put the melted chocolate mixture into a large bowl and add the eggs, flour, soft light brown sugar, cocoa powder and water. Whisk well to combine and then add enough of the black food colouring to get a black batter, if using. You can do this in a stand mixer or using a hand-held electric whisk. You can also do this by hand, but it does take time and lots of elbow grease! Divide the batter between two of the lined cake tins and place them in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Once they are baked, remove from the oven and leave them to cool completely.
While the chocolate cakes are cooking make the white sponge mixture. Cream together the butter and the caster sugar until really light and fluffy. Add one of the eggs and half of the flour to the creamed butter and sugar, and mix well to combine. Add the remaining egg with the egg white, the rest of the flour and the crème fraiche and then mix again to combine. Tip the white sponge mixture into the remaining lined cake tin and
When the white sponge is in the oven, make the chocolate ganache. Put the cream into a pan and heat it up over a medium heat until it is boiling. Put the chocolate into a bowl and then pour the boiling cream over it. Leave it to sit for a couple of minutes and then carefully stir it all together with a spatula, using as few stirs as possible.
Once the ganache has cooled and thickened to a spreadable consistency, put a dollop on a serving plate or cake stand. Then put one of the chocolate sponge layers on top and spread over some of the ganache, then repeat with the white sponge layer with another layer of ganache on top. Finish with the remaining chocolate sponge and then spread the whole cake all over with the rest of the ganache. Once the cake is covered with a nice even layer of the chocolate ganache, put it in a cool place to firm up.
Meanwhile, make the meringue coating. Put the sugar into a large bowl and then add two of the egg whites and whisk them up until the mixture is stiff and shiny – this can take several minutes. Add another egg white and whisk it up again until stiff and shiny. Repeat this a final time with the remaining egg white and continue to whisk until it is stiff and shiny. The best way to do this is with a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, but a hand-held electric whisk is also good.
Using a large palette knife, slather the meringue all over the cake – I like it to look like soft butter on a piece of toast, rather than a covering of spikes or sharp points. When the cake is completely covered, take a blowtorch and run it over the cake. Keep it moving back and forward all of the time so that the meringue does not burn but turns golden brown all over.
Leave it to cool down a little before serving.
© Lorraine Pascale, 2017. Images: © Myles New, 2017.