Friday, December 14, 2007

Chocolate roulade

One of my colleagues, Julien, celebrates his birthday in late December; however, as he finished up on Friday to go on leave for 5 weeks, I decided to bake him his birthday cake this week.

Chocolate is a very popular flavour choice at work, so I made a chocolate roulade for Julien. (It is based on Jamie Oliver's Black Forest Swiss roll from Cook.)

I liked this cake because it combined sweet with sour; the sour cherries balanced out the chocolate and cream, so you were not overwhelmed by sweetness.

For a roulade, it was also surprisingly easy to work with; roulades have a reputation for cracking, and I was dubious about not rolling up the cake while still hot. However, I was ultimately pleasantly surprised by the result, which was relatively crack-free.

My version of the chocolate roulade is as follows:

4 eggs
125g sugar
65g butter
100g plain flour
30g cocoa
400g bottle morello cherries in syrup
2 tablespoons brandy
300ml whipping cream
70g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease a Swiss roll pan, line with baking paper and then grease the paper.

Melt the butter in a microwave or on the stove top. Beat the eggs with an electric mixer until they have fluffed up to roughly three times their original volume. Slowly whisk the melted butter into the eggs by hand so as to retain the air in the egg mixture. Sift together the plain flour and cocoa into a small bowl, then using a wooden spoon, fold the flour and cocoa into the egg mixture, again trying to avoid knocking the air out of the mixture.

Spread the cake batter out over the Swiss roll pan, and bake for 15 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched. After removing the cake from the oven, leave it to cool in the pan.

Drain the syrup from the morello cherries, and warm the syrup with the brandy in a small saucepan. Brush over the cooled cake.

Heat one third of the cream in a small saucepan until it almost (but not quite) boils, then remove it from the stove and stir through the chocolate pieces to form a chocolate cream.

Whip the remaining cream with an electric mixer to stiff peak stage.

Leaving the cake on the paper that it was baked in, spread the cake with chocolate cream, leaving a 5cm border around the edges. Top this with the whipped cream. Sprinkle the drained cherries on top of the cream. Using the baking paper as a guide, roll the cake up tightly, removing it from the baking paper as you roll. (Some of the filling may be squeezed out at this stage, so retaining the border around the edges of the cake when filling it is important.) Once the cake has been completely rolled, wrap it in baking paper and refrigerate it until set.

You can sift icing sugar over the cake before serving, but I think this is superfluous, and the cake was fine without it.

If you have a chocolate and fruit lover to bake for, then this is the cake for them. As mentioned above, the balance of the tart fruit against the fattiness of the cream and the sweetness of the chocolate is just devine, and I would make this cake again.

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