Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Glorious Chocolate Cake with Marshmallow Cream

When I saw the Pioneer Woman aka Ree Drummond showcase the “best... frosting” from a recipe on Tasty Kitchen by MissyDew, I just sighed.  As gorgeous as the Red Velvet Cake looks, it was the frosting that drew me in.  It reminded me of a war-time mock cream recipe from Marguerite Patten’s "We'll Eat Again", though hers uses cornflour which I would imagine gives a slightly more blancmange finish to it... do let me know in the comments if you have tried it, does this hunch have any truth to it?
There are interesting snippets about the American history of this recipe in the comments under the Pioneer Woman’s post.  It seems that the more usual cream cheese frosting is a newer concept, and that the marshmallow-like textured mock cream is the traditional way of finishing a Red Velvet cake.

Ultimately, Red Velvet Cake is a chocolate cake.  And you can’t go wrong serving up chocolate cake.  Looking at the marshmallowy goodness of the frosting, I knew I wanted a sandwich cake...

(But incidentally, if you do fancy a red Red Velvet Cake with cream cheese frosting... feel free...)
My Red Velvet Cake, with natural colouring and without saturated fat

The gorgeous fluffy and puddingly (yes, I made that word up) nature of cake recipes accommodating cholesterol-lowering fats rather than saturated animal fats, and sweetened soya milk to enable the sugar reduction, can sometimes make sandwich cakes an issue when it comes to slicing; it can become too soft and moist a crumb to hold up a filling without the jam or frosting melding almost completely with the cake, if still delicious. The cornflour and cocoa powder in this recipe go someway to ensuring a cake that is dense enough to cut easily while still being yummily moreish (you can see from the photo that the cake gives a pretty clean cut, and despite the frosting going in before properly set, there is still a definite frosting layer in the cake rather than it disappearing into the cake crumb.)

The balsamic vinegar in the recipe can be replaced with 50ml more of the milk + 1 tsp malt vinegar; the acidity of both vinegars help the rise but it is a treacly sweet balsamic that seems to raise a chocolate cake to gloriousness.

Glorious Chocolate Sandwich Cake with Marshmallow Cream

300g self raising flour
50g cocoa powder
50g cornflour
275g granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
200ml sweetened soya milk * Why?
150ml rapeseed oil
50ml balsamic vinegar

Whisk the oil, milk and vinegar with a fork just to amalgamate and so that the mixture becomes a little thicker and splits a bit.  Mix all of the ingredients together very well until smooth.  Spoon equally into 2 lined sandwich tins.  Bake at 180C for 30 minutes.  Leave for 10 minutes then carefully lift out and continue cooling on a wire rack. 
Meanwhile, make the frosting recipe in the quantity specified.
You really could do with an electric beater for making the frosting...  as Ree says you “need to beat the heck out of it”.  I am lazy, and so stopped before I should have.  Although it appears a little separated, it still set with the texture in tact and tastes beautiful – it just means you need to catch the frosting out of focus if you want to post a photo on a blog!  The marshmallow texture and delicate flavour seems even better after it has rested on the cake for a day or two in the fridge...

For the frosting, I used sweetened soya milk instead of dairy (*Why) and Pure spread as it has a lovely delicate neutral flavour which is hard to find in a margarine (I find the olive oil and soya versions more neutral than the sunflower oil spread.)
The frosting needs to cool and set before spreading so that it doesn't slide down the cake. I tried not to show too much in the photo but you can see where the frosting has slid and gathered at the bottom edge of the cake.  Unset frosting in the middle also makes the top layer slide around on the bottom layer, so I secured it with skewers until it had been chilled and set.  Please be more sensible and patient than I was... pop the frosting in the fridge first before sandwiching the cake and spreading it over the top.

To add a little more sweetness, I like to use soya milk sweetened with apple extract (supermarket brands usually are) which is around the same cost as dairy milks but with less saturated fat and is good if you worry about the free-range etc side of things - it also has the advantage of making cakes suitable for the oft-cited 70% of the world's population who are lactose intolerant! If you only have dairy milk in the fridge, then there is no reason that this recipe wouldn't work with that instead.

If you tried this cake or MissyDew's frosting, I would love to read how you got on!

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