When Konditor & Cook opened in 1993, the dark chocolate cake was our most popular. Chocolate throughout, it was filled with a rich ganache. One of its biggest fans was a Mrs Simon of Sloane Square, who always bought it for family birthdays, until one Thanksgiving when she requested a vanilla filling instead of the customary ganache. And that’s when the Curly Whirly Cake was born – a dark chocolate sponge laden with creamy vanilla frosting. At the time, we also went through a Klimt-inspired wedding-cake period. Gold-leaf squares and decorative swirls were all the rage, and so it was that an everyday cake ended up with some pretty chocolate curly-whirly decorations. The Curly Whirly has topped the number-one spot ever since, and I hope this recipe will make it an equally staple part of your baking.
- For the dark chocolate sponge:
- 250ml milk
- 275g light soft brown sugar
- 100g dark chocolate (54 per cent cocoa solids), chopped
- 175g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 30g cocoa powder
- 100g salted butter, softened
- 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
- To decorate:
- 1 quantity of Cream Cheese Frosting, flavoured with vanilla (see ingredients below)
- chocolate flakes or a little melted chocolate (optional)
- For the cream cheese icing:
- 200g full-fat cream cheese
- 400g icing sugar
- 50g unsalted butter
- seeds of ½ vanilla pod or ½ tsp vanilla extract
Makes a 17cm cake.
Make the cream cheese frosting. Put the cream cheese, icing sugar and any flavouring into a bowl and beat slowly with a handheld electric mixer until smooth. Put the butter in a small pan and soften over a very low heat so that it just disintegrates rather than becoming piping hot.With the hand mixer still on a slow speed, gradually pour the melted butter into the cream cheese mixture until it is completely combined, then whisk it briefly at a higher speed. If you’re happy with theconsistency use it straight away. If the butter was too warm, the frosting may be a bit soft and will need chilling slightly first.
Heat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5. Line two 17cm sandwich tins with foil or baking parchment.
Heat half the milk and half the soft brown sugar together in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved, then add the chocolate and stir over a low heat until melted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder together and set aside. Put the butter in a large bowl, add the remaining sugar and beat together until light and fluffy, using an electric mixer. Gradually add the beaten eggs, alternating each addition with a tablespoon of the flour mixture to prevent it splitting.
Fold in the rest of the flour, followed by the remaining milk, then add the still-warm chocolate milk. Mix until smooth; it will have a very runny consistency.
Divide the mixture between the 2 lined tins and bake for 20–25 minutes, until risen and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins.
Turn the cakes out of their tins and sandwich them together with about a quarter of the frosting. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides to bind any crumbs and then leave to set in the fridge for an hour.
Coat with the remaining frosting, smoothing it with a palette knife. Sprinkle with chocolate flakes or put the melted chocolate in a parchment piping bag and pipe patterns on the cake.