I’ve made this cake a couple of times and it’s perfect for any kind of celebration and super easy to make! It’s simple but it does take a bit of time so best to make it the day before you need it.
- vegetable oil/oil spray
- 200g butter, softened
- 200g caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 140g plain flour
- 60g cocoa powder
- pinch of salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 400g plain, milk, or white chocolate cigarillos (about 75–80 in total)
For the buttercream
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 500g icing sugar
- 100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), melted and slightly cooled
1. Preheat the oven to 180/C/350F and line a 20cm/8in round deep cake tin with baking paper and brush or spray with oil.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until they begin to go pale. Add half of the eggs and half of the flour and mix. Once combined add the rest of the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder and beat for a minute or two until the mixture is uniform. Dollop into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.
3. Meanwhile, make the buttercream: put the butter and icing sugar in a bowl and whisk together until the mixture goes fluffy. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and whisk for another couple of minutes.
4. Once the cake is completely cool, remove it from the tin. Carefully cut the top flat with a large serrated knife.
5. Turn the cake upside down on a 20cm/8in cake board so that the bottom now becomes a nice flat top. Split the cake horizontally and sandwich the top and bottom together with a 1cm layer of buttercream. I would advise against filling with cream or fruit. This isn’t the sort of cake you make on the hop and serve immediately so if you put cream in this the sponge is liable to suck it up overnight and you’ll be left with nothing in the middle. Any sliced fruit or berries will make the sponge soggy.
6. Spread the remaining buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake, making it as smooth as possible. I use a pallet knife for this. Put in the fridge to set before doing another layer. Don’t panic if it isn’t perfect, nobody is going to see it.
7. Gently push the cigarillos vertically onto the sides of the cake, positioning them as straight as possible and making sure they touch the bottom. They’ll act as a little fence around the cake hiding any hiccups you may have made. See! EASY.
8. Store in an airtight container somewhere cool until ready to serve. You can keep it in the fridge but I find cake that’s been refrigerated to be dense and cold and unappetising.
9. When it’s time to serve, top the cake with whatever takes your fancy – I piled strawberries onto the white chocolate version I made for my mother in-law (pictured below) and I added fresh raspberries to my mum’s milk chocolate birthday cake. You could top with anything really… pink & white marshmallows, Maltesers, flowers, quartered figs, mini meringues, any selection of berries you fancy…
I buy the chocolate cigarillos from The Chocolate Trading Company. They come bubble wrapped in a sturdy box and so far I’ve never had any arrive broken. If you didn’t want to use cigarillos you could use something else… Matchsticks (the chocolate kind) maybe or Cadbury’s Flakes? Or Kit Kats? I guess it really just depends on the height of the cake.
I’m thinking about making a gluten free version of this cake for my daughter’s birthday next month. I just need to practise a suitable cake recipe and double check that the cigarillos are gluten free.
If I made it for her I’d top it with strawberries from the local greengrocer. I bought some the other day and they were the best strawberries I’ve ever tasted!
*This recipe is adapted from Lorraine Pascale’s ‘I Can’t Believe You Made That Cake’.