Elisa’s Chocolate Birthday Cake *egg-free*

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Adapted from kurryleaves‘ recipe for egg-less chocolate cake.

Today is my friend Elisa’s birthday, and she’s allergic to eggs. Of all things! This sent me into a birthday cake panic.

I scoured the interwebs, and stumbled upon this here mostly vegetarian and vegan cooking and baking blog. The pictures looked yummy, and a lot of the vegan ingredients in the recipe could be substituted for regular ones (a little less daunting for a vegan-baking novice such as myself). I don’t like fussy recipes, and this one wasn’t, so I decided to give it a go.

For icing, I went with David Lebovitz’ recipe for chocolate ganache, as I’ve tried it before and it’s rich and yummy! A good way to spruce up a cake I feared might be less than exciting.

I’m extremely wary of baking without eggs. My only previous experience with it was several batches of (much, much) less than perfect lemon-coconut cookies (also for Elisa – after 5 different, all failed, tries, I gave up and made these yummy cocoa biscuits instead).

I’m also not a huge, huge fan of chocolate cakes… I find that they often look very appealing, but taste a bit bland! This one turned out fine though – the cake itself is a bit too bland  for me, personally, but light and moist, and since the ganache packs a serious chocolate punch, best the cake be a little less imposing!

I’d planned on slicing the cake in half horisontally, to make a layer cake, but after baking it found it was too flat to slice, and ended up baking a second layer 🙂

Alright, here’s what you’ll need:

For the cakes:

  • 280 g / 3 cups flour
  • 8 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 400 g / 2 cups sugar
  • 8 tbsp / 1/2 cup olive oil (you can of course use a milder vegetable oil, but I love the fruity taste of olive oil in baking! Also, it was the only kind of oil I had in the house 😉 )
  • 480 ml / 2 cups butter milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate ganache:

  • 280 g / 10 ounces dark chocolate, 46% cocoa solids – cut into chunks
  • 120 ml / 1/2 cup cream
  • 170 g / 1 1/2 sticks butter – cut into chunks

And here’s how to turn it all into a cake!

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit / gas mark 4, and grease and line two springform baking tins of about 22 cm in diameter. (To line to bottom of the tin, I place a sheet of baking parchment on the bottom, assemble the springform, turn it upside down and sort of tug a little at the sides of the baking parchment to make sure it’s flat, and tear of the extra baking parchment – easy peasy!)

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Mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

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In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, oil, vanilla and butter milk. Whisk in the dry ingredients.

Divide the batter between the baking tins, smooth out the top, and bake in the middle of the oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean. If your oven isn’t big enough, bake them in two goes 🙂

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While the cakes are baking, make the chocolate ganache by heating up the cream until it begins to bubble a little, just before it comes to a boil. (Or, heat it for a minute or so in the microwave!)

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Take the cream off the heat (or out of the microwave), add the chocolate chunks, and let the chocolate hang out in the hot cream for a good few minutes before stirring well, until the chocolate has dissolved into the cream (if you, like me, have taken the microwave route, and find that there are still a few chunks of unmelted chocolate, pop the bowl back into the microwave for 10-15 seconds before stirring again). Now add the butter, whisking well until the ganache is thick and shiny 🙂

Let the ganache cool down and thicken at room temperature for about an hour (unless you haven’t got that kind of time, in which case do as I did and put the ganache in the fridge for a bit! It will be less shiny though, once the cake has been frosted).

Once the cakes have cooled, take them out of the tins and place the first layer on a cake dish. Spread half of the ganache on the first layer, then place the second layer on top and press down a little. Ice the top and sides of the cake with the remaining ganache.

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Decorate as desired!

I happen to have promised Elisa a unicorn cake, and here (I’m kind of embarrassed to say) is the finished result:

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Magnificent! 😉

P.s.: Since I couldn’t very well slice the cake before bringing it to the birthday girl, and because I can’t bear to serve a cake I haven’t tasted, and because I needed to practice making unicorns, I made a ‘test’ cake with only one layer, and here’s a slice of that:

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