Ganache with panache: chocolate cherry cake

My original intention was to bake a coffee cake, but when I asked my family what they’d like my dad said he’d much prefer a chocolate cake, so the plan changed. I was going to row the boat out and search out a new sponge recipe but this one is so pipsqueak with the most scrumptious crumb (read my ecstasies about it here) I decided to stay ashore.

I did, however, gamble on a ganache. It means the cake isn’t dairy free, but you could try with dairy-free cream (no idea how it would turn out though!) I melted my way through dark chocolate and cream, and chopped up some dried cherries to break up what I thought was going to be a fairly rich cake. After sampling the ganache a few too many times it reached the consistency I wanted and over the cake it went, lying on top of cherries in the middle and finished with cherries on top. Slight error because my ganache was too liquid for my preference so I waited for it to cool and as a result it lost its glossiness. I’ve reduced the amount of cream in the recipe.

Chocolate cherry cake

That evening we had it for pudding and I think I’d had my dose of decadence for that day because it was too rich for me. I tried to temper it with some ice cream, but I returned to the kitchen woeful that the tone of this post would be soaked with disappointment, and I also really dislike wasting anything. Becky liked the cake, and Dad enjoyed it with the ice cream.

The sun rose the next day, and after lunch I decided to try again with the cake. This time (and I’m not pulling the wool over your eyes I promise) the ganache was rich but not overbearingly so, and because the chocolate sponge is fairly airy I had to resist going back for seconds. You also get tinkling twangs of sour-ish cherries which was a real hit for me.

Just keep swimming, says Dory. I thought I’d lost myself at sea with the ganache, but it worked out in the end. Recipe below!

200g (7 oz) plain flour

200g (7 oz) caster sugar

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

250ml (8 fl oz) water

For the ganache

180g dark chocolate

230ml whipping cream

Handful of dried cherries, chopped in half

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Lightly grease a a 20cm round cake tin.
  2. Sieve together the flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add the oil, vanilla, vinegar and water. Mix together until smooth.
  3. Pour into prepared tin and bake at 180 C for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  4. When cool, slice it in half (horizontally 😉 ).
  5. Heat cream in a pan until almost boiling, then pour into a heatproof bowl over the chocolate.
  6. Stir until shiny (you should be able to see the outline of your face in it, my end result isn’t shiny enough cos I had to wait for it to thicken)
  7. Arrange half the cherries on top of the bottom sponge, then spread half the ganache on top.
  8. Put the lid on and cover that with ganache.
  9. Decorate with remaining cherries.
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