Last week the Chelsea Flower Show was held by the Royal Horticultural Society. Hard working gardeners, growers and designers showcased their talents, for a few days, in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. So inspired by this theme, I decided to try and bake a flower cake. I hope you enjoy looking at and eating my Chocolate Sunflower Cake.
Baked in the Blossom Bundt Tin made by Nordicware this rich, moist chocolate cake is coated in the centre with milk chocolate, yellow coloured white chocolate was used to define the petals. A dusting of gold glitter highlighted the petals and dark chocolate granite by Callebaut was used for the centre of the bloom.
Whilse Sunflower’s are a little early to be shown at Chelsea, this Chocolate Sunflower Cake is perfect to eat anytime of the year. Today it is really brightening my day, it is very wet and windy outside. Not how I hoped the weather would be at the end of May!
I knew I wanted to bake this cake in my Blossom Bundt tin, but I was honestly stumped for ideas on how to decorate it. Making a chocolate cake would, hopefully ensure everyone enjoyed the flavour, I just needed to come up with a design!
My very good friend Vicky, suggested, after seeing a photo of the cooked cake, that it looked like a sunflower. That was all the inspiration I needed. I formulated a rough plan in my head and went with it. Also, I think the finished cake is more a Van Gogh sunflower, than an absolute replica. Finally, I’m so pleased that it turned out so well, especially as cake decorating is not one of my strongest gifts!
Recipe: Chocolate Sunflower Cake serves 10
You will need the Blossom, or similar type Bundt tin to make this cake as I have.
Cake Release Spray – I use Wilton
275g/10oz Unsalted Butter
275g/10oz Caster Sugar
1/4tsp Sea Salt Flakes- I use Maldon
5 Large Free Range Eggs
2tsp Vanilla Extract I use Nielsen-Massey
75g/3oz Cocoa powder
200g/7oz Plain White Flour
2.5tsp Baking Powder
100ml/4fl oz Double Cream
100g/4oz Good Quality Milk Chocolate
200g/7oz Good Quality White Chocolate
100g/4oz Dark Chocolate Curls or mini dark chocolate chips
Optional – Yellow Gel Food Colouring and Gold Edible Glitter
Making The Cake Batter
Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan, gas mark 3, 325F.
- First of all, in a large bowl add the butter, sugar and salt.
- Whisk/beat until pale and creamy.
- Add the vanilla extract and beat in until combined.
- Sift the cocoa, flour and baking powder into a separate bowl – dry mixture.
- Measure the cream into a jug and then add the 5 whole eggs ( I crack them into a small bowl first) – wet mixture.
- Add 1/3 of the dry mixture and 1/3 of the wet mixture whilst beating/mixing slowly.
- Repeat the last step.
- Add the last of the wet mix and then the last of the dry mix. Fold all the ingredients together until just combined.
- Spray the Bundt tin with cake release spray (if using the liquid use a pastry brush to ensure every part of the inside of the tin is completely covered).
- Spoon the chocolate cake mixture into the Bundt tin, pushing the mixture into every part of the tin. The Bundt tin should be 2/3 full. If using a different Bundt tin ensure it is filled no more than 3/4 full.
Baking The Chocolate Bundt Cake
- Place the cake in the middle of the oven and bake for 1 hour.
- The cake is baked when an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- As soon as the cake is baked remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin.
- After 10 minutes cooling in the tin turn the Chocolate Sunflower Cake out onto a cooling rack.
- Allow to fully cool before decorating the cake.
Decorating the Chocolate Sunflower Cake:
Preparing the chocolate
- Separately chop/break up the white and milk chocolate and place in separate heatproof, microwaveable bowls.
- Zap the milk chocolate first for 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between heating sessions. When the chocolate is nearly melted remove from the microwave and stir until completely melted.
- Repeat the last step for the white chocolate.
- Place the cooling rack across a clean baking tray.
- Have 2 clean teaspoons to hand for each of the melted chocolates, the dark chocolate curls and glitter. It’s also handy to have some kitchen towel to hand as working with chocolate can get very messy!!
- Dip a cocktail stick into the yellow food colouring gel and add to the white chocolate, mix thoroughly until the desired colour has been reached.
Creating The Chocolate Centre Of The Sunflower
- Start by spooning the milk chocolate all around the centre of the cake, so that it completely covers the inside of the Bundt hole.
- Cover the milk chocolate as fully as possible with dark chocolate curls or chips. The centre of a sunflower is the darkest part.
- Tap the cooling rack to remove any stray dark chocolate pieces.
Adding The Yellow Chocolate Petals
- Next come the petals! The blossom Bundt is not symmetrical, so pick the first petal, next to the milk chocolate to start.
- Using a small teaspoon, spoon melted white chocolate on to the petal. Filling out the shape of the petal and encouraging the chocolate to drip, just at the tip of the petal. This detail may get lost as you work your way around the cake, however, I found the top petals the easiest to fill, so it’s great practise for creating the eventual outline of the flower petals.
- Once you have completed the top petals, start filling in the next level down. Most importantly, keep standing back and looking over the cake to ensure an even look.
- Continue adding length to the petals, evenly around the cake, until all the chocolate is used. The whole cake will not be covered in chocolate and that is how it should be. It makes the petals and the centre really stand out.
Adding The Finishing Touches
- If using the glitter, start by adding it just to the tips of each defined petal. Then you can follow the central line on the petal with a light dusting of glitter.
- Finally give the centre of the cake a really good dust of glitter. The glitter also represents pollen, in fact I wish I had a fondant bee to add to this cake, I think it would look amazing. If you are good with fondant, perhaps try making one to add to your Chocolate Sunfower Cake?
- Once decorated move the cake to a cake stand or board so that it doesn’t stick to the cooling rack.
My Cake Decorating Journey
For me, the beauty of this cake is in it’s organic, natural design.
When first completed I wasn’t very happy with the finished outcome. Since looked too messy in my eyes. Rather like a great piece of music that grows on you the more you listen to it, this Chocolate Sunflower Cake has really grown on me. Technically it is the most difficult cake I have ever decorated and two days on, whilst looking at these photographs, I cannot believe that I created this cake.
I am not looking for praise. No one is a harsher critic of my work than me. Honestly I’m not sure I could say I had fun decorating this cake. Also, I was too deep in concentration (not easy when you are in a lot of pain) and determined to create a cake that vaguely resembled a flower. Finally, I see now that I accomplished what I set out to achieve and that gives me a great sense of joy. Also if I can do it, so can you!
Taste wise this cake is utterly delicious. The cream lends a moistness to the rich dark chocolate flavour and the chocolate decoration adds just a hint of sweetness.
If you have enjoyed this Chocolate Sunflower Cake here are some others you may like too:
The Chocolate Sunflower Cake was truly a challenge to decorate. In challenging ourselves, we will make mistakes. The way to improve is to not let those mistakes stop us from trying again and again until we have achieved our goal.
Do you like to be challenged, or do you prefer to stay in your comfort zone?
So, whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing and sharing your feast.
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