Spring is finally in the air. Daffodils made their brief but bright appearance last month. The parks and gardens are blanketed in a purple carpet of bluebells. Cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
It's a time of new beginnings and the timing is very fitting as I welcomed my new bundle of baby joy and love Finn into the world. I have spent the last month adjusting to my new hectic life in motherhood. You can understand why it's been a little quiet here of late.
I did find the time to bake this birthday cake for my husband. Not quite as grand as this cake I made for him last year but still delicious.
Adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe
FOR THE CHOCOLATE CAKE
2 tbsp cocoa powder
100ml hot water
200g cold unsalted butter diced
200g dark chocolate 70% cocoa, chopped
300g light brown sugar
4 large eggs
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
FOR THE PEANUT BUTTER ICING
250g unsalted butter
500g icing sugar
250g smooth peanut butter
100ml double cream
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line with baking paper 2 x 22cm round cake tins.
Place cocoa powder and hot water in a separate bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
Place the diced butter and chopped chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until completely melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs until pale and thick. Continue beating and slowly pour in the chocolate mixture until combined.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking powder and sieve it over the chocolate mixture. Fold together until there are no lumps. Add the cocoa mixture and fold again until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 cake tins. Bake in the oven for 30 mins or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 mins before removing and cooling completely on a cake rack.
To make the icing, beat the butter in a large bowl until light and creamy. Add the icing sugar a little at a time to the bowl and continue to beat. Add the peanut butter and beat until smooth. Add the double cream and a pinch of salt and beat again until smooth and combined.
Cut each cake in half so you get 4 layers. Top each layer in between with icing. Add a thin layer of the icing to the top and side of the cake. Place it in the fridge for 30mins to 1 hr so the icing hardens slightly to make it easier to add more icing to the outside of the cake. The icing also looks cleaner as it doesn't catch any crumbs that have come off the cake from the first layer of icing. You can make the icing on the outside of the cake as thin or thick as you like. I personally prefer a thin layer of icing.