Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 25 - 30 minutes
For the cake
Before you start, grease and line 4x5 inch baking tins and preheat your oven to 170c. (If you’d like to make a wider cake instead, this recipe can be adapted to 2x7 inch tins to make a sandwich cake.) Prepare your espresso (or coffee) and weigh your ingredients.
Cream together butter and both sugars in a mixer or hand mixer at a medium high speed until light and fluffy. Keep stopping to scrape the bowl to make sure all of your butter and sugar creamed.
Lowering your speed, add the eggs one at a time giving them time to combine well with the mixture. Add vanilla extract and cooled espresso. If the mixture looks a little bit split it’s okay, it’ll come back together when you add the flour.
Sift your dry ingredients into your wet mix. Fold your dry ingredients into your wet mix with a spatula to gently incorporate together. If the mix seems a little dry or stiff add a little milk and mix again.
Split your mixture between your four lined tins and bake for 25 minutes at 170c, checking at this point with a skewer. If it needs a little longer give it another 5 minutes or so and check again.
Leave to cool in tins for 30 minutes, then remove from the tins to cool on a wire rack.
For the ganache
Weigh out your chocolate and dale farm cream. Chop your dark chocolate into small pieces and put in a medium bowl. Heat your cream in a small saucepan with your butter, pinch of salt and vanilla extract.
When the cream bubbles at the edges it’s ready to add to your chocolate. Just pour the hot cream all over the chocolate and leave for around 5-10 minutes, then stir to combine the two. This is going to look like a complete mess at the start but just keep mixing! (If some of your chocolate hasn’t melted don’t panic, just put your ganache in the microwave in 10 second blasts until it’s all melted)
For the chocolate swiss meringue buttercream
Combine egg whites, pinch of salt and caster sugar in a large glass or metal bowl over a pan of boiling water, mixing regularly. While this is heating up, start melting your chocolate in the microwave.
When your egg and sugar mix reaches 71c it’s ready to whisk. If you don’t have a thermometer, carefully dip your finger into the mixture (it’s hot) and rub the mixture between your fingers. If you can’t feel any sugar granules, it’s ready.
Transfer the mixture to your mixer and whisk on a medium speed for about 5-6 minutes until it’s cool, then add your butter one cube at a time to the meringue. Stop half way through to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It will look like it’s not coming together but keep going, when all the butter’s added it’ll come together.
Sift in your cocoa powder and put back in the mixer on a low speed. Drizzle in your cooled chocolate and keep mixing on a low speed until smooth.
Take your cooled cakes and trim off any unwanted edges. Smear a little buttercream on the surface of your cake board or flat plate and add your first layer of cake. Add some cooled ganache and spread across the cake about 1 cm short of the edge. Top with buttercream, spreading it across the ganache layer with an off-set spatula right to the edge of the cake. Repeat this process with your remaining cake layers until you get to the top.
When you have used your last layer of cake, top with buttercream and spread across the top of the cake. Gently add the remaining buttercream to the sides of the cake and, using your offset spatula or bench scraper, smooth the buttercream over the cake layers, cleaning the excess of the scraper and filling in the gaps. Store in the fridge until cool. Add chocolate decorations of your choice and serve with your leftover cream.