Curly Whirly Cake

I take a lot of inspiration from bakeries. They are the professionals after all. I also like to create what I eat in bakeries far and away, in my own kitchen. I go hunting for bakeries when I am in a different city, and then I go hunting for the recipe of the cake that I ate. Like this one time, when I went searching for a bakery in the banking heart of London. There, on a whim, I had a piece of what they called the Curly Whirly Cake (when actually, I had gone to eat their cupcakes. Indecisive, who me?). Here's a cake that's (probably, I shall not assume) not steeped in history from the 15th century, but was so delicious, that one slice of it had me hooked. And since I don't have regular access to the cake, and I don't think it will travel well, I had to make it for myself. And the good bakers who created it, made it available for people all over the world (or just the obsessive ones like me).

The cake is the bakery's most popular cake. It is probably called curly whirly because of the chocolate icing curls on top of the cake. My cake didn't have as many melted chocolate curls because I didn't melt the chocolate properly, but to stay true to the name, I added chocolate curls on top.  

(Note: Please pardon the strange coloured images. I was in quite a hurry to take the cake, and there was no time to take a good picture. Sometimes I revert to my old ways)

This cake was also when I fell for Vanilla Bean. Really Vanilla Bean frosting. When the tiny black vanilla bean seeds are speckled through an ivory white pillowy frosting. It's when I realised how much real difference a vanilla bean makes, as opposed to the artificial flavourings (and it also partly inspired a blog post)

Cream cheese can be hard to come by here. Oh, the imported stuff is available freely, but I always hesitate to buy it (What about the food miles? Is it really worth paying so much money for so little? etc etc.) So when I saw the locally manufactured cream cheese (it's the same thing really, so don't dismiss it just yet) stacked at the supermarket, I knew what my next cake was going to be. My cream cheese loving friend's birthday had to have a cream cheese frosted cake. And it was going to be the Curly Whirly Cake.

Curly Whirly Cake
Adapted from Konditor and Cook's Curly Whirly Cake via Guardian

(Makes a small round 8 inch cake. Enough to feed 3 hungry or 4 people)

The cake starts off with using salted butter in the cake. Read the recipe once before making the cake. The ingredient's are simple but the process is slightly different. Simple enough to do, but it differs from the regular process.

For the cake:

50g plain chocolate (45% or 70% dark chocolate)
125ml milk (Divide it into 65ml + 60 ml)
110g soft brown sugar (Divide it into 55 gms + 55 gms)
1 egg, beaten
50g salted butter (softened, at room temperature)
85g plain flour
1/2tsp baking powder
15g dark cocoa (2tbsp)

Vanilla frosting:

150g full-fat cream cheese
4 tbsp icing sugar
½ vanilla bean (best-quality Mexican vanilla adds a wonderful aroma)
25g unsalted butter, melted

To make the cake:

1. Line one 8inch diameter sandwich tin with butter paper. Preheat the oven to 190C.

2. Heat half the milk and half the soft brown sugar in a saucepan. Add the chocolate to the mixture and melt by stirring constantly. Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and leave to cool.

3. In a large bowl, add the other half of the sugar to the butter and cream until light and fluffy using an electric mixer, about 3-5 minutes). Gradually add the beaten eggs, occasionally adding a few spoons of flour to stop the mix from splitting.

4. Sift in the flour and baking powder into the butter and egg mixture and add the remaining milk.

5. Mix well, then add the still-warm chocolate milk. Mix until the batter is smooth, with a very runny consistency.

6. Pour into the prepared cake tin. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and leave to cool in the tins.

7. To make the frosting: melt the unsalted butter. In a bowl, sift the icing sugar and add the cream cheese. Cut the vanilla bean in half length ways, scrape out the seeds with a knife and add to the cream cheese. Mix until it is well blended.

8. Add the melted butter and keep blending until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

9. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides to bind any crumbs. Leave to set for an hour and then repeat the coating, smoothing with a palette knife. Sprinkle with chocolate flakes, chocolate curls or pipe with melted chocolate and serve..


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