Have your cake and eat it!

What is the one food item that is a part of our lives and a must-have at every memorable celebratory occasion? It’s cake!

From birthdays to weddings and from christenings and anniversaries to all sorts of festive holidays – including Christmas – cakes are always the centrepiece of the table.

The history of cake dates to ancient times with the first cakes being more bread-like and sweetened with honey, nuts and dried fruits. According to food historians, the precursors of modern cakes were baked in Europe in the mid-17th century, but it was not until 200 years later that cake, as we know it today arrived on the scene.

“Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!” or “Let them eat cake!” Perhaps the most famous quote about cake ever, were the words of the 18th century French Queen Marie Antoinette, upon being informed that the peasants were so poor that they had no bread to eat during one of the famines that occurred in France during the reign of her husband, Louis XVI. Needless to say, the ignorance and arrogance of that disdainful statement did not win either Marie Antoinette or her husband any respect or sympathy from their people, who then proceeded to behead both of them during the French Revolution.

None of this changes the fact that cake is arguably one of the most delicious things humans have ever made to eat, and its numerous varieties continue to astound and delight. Television shows like The Great British Bake Off and Cake Boss, are hugely popular and have given rise to celebrities such as Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry and Buddy Valastro.

To celebrate cakes perfect for the festive season, we asked the hugely talented Capsicum Culinary Studio alumnus Hendrik Pretorius to share one of his favourite recipes so that you can also make your cake and eat it too!

Heidelberg-born Pretorius, who graduated from the school’s Pretoria campus in 2017, worked for a year in Dubai before being offered the job of pâtissier at Simpli, one of the top coffee spots in Lisbon. He is now in the early stages of launching his own establishment, called Quest Coffee, in the Portuguese capital. The recipe below was taken from Pretorius first cookbook, The Sweet Side of Life, which is due to be published in 2023.

Chocolate Cake with Orange Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 250g all-purpose flour
  • 350g sugar
  • 120ml vegetable oil
  • 240ml hot water
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 20ml baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

For the Sugar Syrup

  • 96ml water
  • 100g sugar

For the Orange Chocolate Frosting

  • 350g cream cheese
  • 375g icing sugar
  • 125g soft butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbs orange juice
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • Zest of 1 orange

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease two 16cm round cake pans and line the bottom with baking paper then grease the top of the paper and the sides of the pans. Set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then mix in the cocoa powder, add the hot water and allow to cool. In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks, oil, sugar, vanilla and cocoa mixture. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  3. Whip egg whites till stiff and fold lightly into the batter. Pour evenly into the two cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Remove the cakes from the cake pans when they are completely cooled down.
  5. Trim the top part of the cakes with a serrated knife so both cakes are flat on top. Use a pastry brush to brush about one half of the sugar syrup* over the top of the cake. Spoon one third of the frosting* on top of the cake and with an offset spatula spread it evenly to the edges.
  6. Place the other layer cake on top and repeat the process but using the remainder of the frosting. Garnish with Chantilly cream and orange slices.
  7. For the sugar syrup: Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
  8. For the frosting: Mix the butter, cream cheese and cocoa until smooth. Add the icing sugar followed by the orange juice and orange zest and mix further, then lastly add the vanilla essence and whisk until the mixture is light and fluffy. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before use.

 

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