Chocolate Cake with Cherry Swirled Buttercream

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This stunning chocolate cherry cake looks like a celebration, but is fairly simple to make (trust me, it looks fancier than it is). A dark and decadent chocolate cake, topped with a dreamy cherry-swirled buttercream and loaded with fresh, plump cherries – this cake is a dream!

Notes:
*This recipe makes enough for one 7 inch cake. Feel free to adjust according to the size of your pan. 
*The whole milk in the cake can be substituted with soy or almond milk.
*I have used dutch cocoa in this recipe because I love the dark, earthy flavour with cherries. However, I have also successfully made this recipe with regular cocoa powder. It will result in a lighter coloured cake. 
*To ensure your buttercream doesn’t curdle, bring all your ingredients to room temperature and have them measured out beforehand. Use a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients. 
*Please be careful while pouring the sugar syrup into the egg whites. The syrup is extremely hot and can cause severe burns.
*The sugar syrup should not be poured on to the whisk, otherwise you risk it splashing over you. If using a hand-held whisk, ask a second person to help you pour in the sugar mixture.
*The cherry compote should be completely cooled before swirling into the buttercream. Otherwise your buttercream will melt. The compote can also be made the day ahead and stored in a jar in the fridge. It should be brought back to room temperature before using. 

 

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  1. 180g flour
  2. 66g dutch cocoa powder
  3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 2/3 teaspoon baking powder
  5. a pinch of salt
  6. 300ml whole milk
  7. 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  8. 200g caster sugar
  9. 200ml sunflower oil
  10. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  11. Cherries, to garnish

For the cherry compote:

  1. 90g fresh cherries, halved and pitted
  2. 2 tablespoons water or orange juice
  3. 2 tablespoons sugar

For the buttercream:

  1. 113g granulated sugar
  2. 56g water
  3. 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  4. 170g unsalted butter, softened
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a 7 inch cake tin with parchment paper.
  2. Put the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and sift twice.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, vinegar, sugar, oil and vanilla extract.  Pour into the flour mixture and whisk until well combined.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 40-55 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove from tin and leave to cool completely.
  6. Start by making the cherry compote (which we will swirl into the buttercream). Add all three ingredients into a saucepan and simmer over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, the cherries have broken down and their juices have thickened up. Leave aside to cool completely. This should take about 10 minutes.
  7. To make the buttercream, mix together the water and sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it reaches a slight boil.
  8. If you have a candy thermometer, cook the syrup until it reaches 115C. Otherwise, cook it till a soft-ball stage. To test, drop a small amount of the sugar syrup into a glass of water. The sugar should be like a soft sappy ball that can be pressed between your fingers.
  9. Just before your sugar syrup has reached temperature, start whipping the egg whites on high speed. When the egg whites reach soft peaks, pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites in a slow steady stream. The syrup should not be poured on to the whisk.
  10. Continue whipping until it reaches stiff peaks and the meringue has cooled down. If you live somewhere with humidity, you can also place the bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes. Do not add butter until you meringue has cooled down.
  11. Whip in the butter, one cube at a time. You can also add in the vanilla. Whip until the buttercream is light and fluffy.
  12. Once your cherry compote has cooled completely, add it into the buttercream and use a spoon to swirl it around just slightly. A good rule of thumb is to stop just before you think it’s done.
  13. To assemble, drop the buttercream on top of the cooled cake and use a knife or spatula to create peaks and swirls. Finally top with whole cherries.