6th of July 2013 was the day that I had the pleasure of watching two of my best friends get married in what turned out to be the most beautiful day. Robyn and Daniel (amazingly) believe in my cooking abilities so much that they asked me to bake their wedding cakes…. all 14 of them!
I very proudly, yet naively accepted this mammoth task, and together, we designed the ultimate sweet-toothed summer wedding cake. To celebrate their one year anniversary, Robyn asked me to make another one as a surprise for Daniel.
Congratulations on your first year as Mr and Mrs Hennessey, I wish you all the happiness in the world and many more lovely memories (and cakes) together.
The Hennessey Cake is three layers of vanilla Sponge, layered with raspberry jam and cream cheese frosting and coated in a glossy white chocolate ganache and finished with popping white chocolate shards and fresh raspberries. This is the epitome of summer indulgence; sweet, rich and incredibly pretty.
For the wedding, each table had it’s own cake of two layers, while the top table’s cake stood taller with three layers. This recipe is for the top table cake and is not for the faint hearted!
For the sponge:
- 360g plain flour
- 420g caster sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 360ml whole milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 170’C (325’F) Gas 3
- Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a free standing electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on slow speed until you reach a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half of the milk and beat until the milk in just incorporated.
- Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk for a few seconds and pour into the mixture and continue beating until just incorporated, scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl. Continue mixing until smooth but do not over mix.
- Pour the mixture into 3 greased and lined 20cm deep cake tins. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden and springy to the touch. Leave to cool slightly in the tins before tuning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the vanilla sugar syrup:
- 150g caster sugar
- 150ml water
- 1 vanilla pod
- Heat the sugar and water in a pan over a moderate heat until completely dissolved. Remove from the heat.
- Split the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the beans. Add to the sugar syrup and leave to cool completely.
- Use when cool, or store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
For the white chocolate ganache
- 200ml double cream
- 400g white chocolate, finely chopped
- In a pan, slowly bring the cream almost to the boil.
- Pour over the chocolate and stir until dissolved.
- With an electric whisk, beat the chocolate mixture until the bowl feels cool to the touch and the ganache is slightly thickened. Pop in the fridge for 10 minutes until thickened.
- NOTE: The ganache must be spreadable, so don’t leave in the fridge for more than 10 minutes. If it feels too hard when you go to use it, beat it again for a minute with the electric mixer to loosen it up.
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 220g cream cheese
- 60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 125g sifted icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
- In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the icing sugar. Store in the fridge after use.
- 150g white chocolate
- 200g fresh raspberries
- 1 pack of popping candy (I used Heston for Waitrose, in the baking section)
- Seedless raspberry jam
- 1tbsp vegetable oil
- Malt the remaining chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water, not allowing the water to touch the base of the bowl. Lay out sheets of greaseproof paper onto chopping boards or other flat moveable surfaces. Using kitchen roll, wipe the greaseproof with a little vegetable oil.
- Leave the chocolate to cool a little, and transfer into a piping bag. Pipe the chocolate into zigzagging stalactites 20 cm tall, in sections of 10 cm onto the greased paper, spinkle with popping candy and transfer to the fridge to set. You will need enough to go around the perimeter of the cake, about 8 should be enough.
- Using a bread knife, or a cake leveller, remove the crusts from the sponge. Try to remove as little as possible- but enough to take the dark edges off and leave a level surface on both sides. The sponge must be completely cool in order to do this, or it will tear.
- Using a pastry brush, dab the sugar syrup over one side of the first sponge cake. Lay it onto the plate, wet side down, and do the same to the other side. Spread a thin layer of seedless raspberry jam on the sponge, followed by a layer of white chocolate ganache.
- Repeat these steps with the remaining two sponge layers, but not decorating the top layer or sides of the cake.
- Using a palette knife, thinly spread the cream cheese frosting around the sides of the cake, filling in all the bumps and gaps. Do a thicker second layer over the sides and the top as evenly as possible.
- Take your white chocolate stalactites from the fridge and gently press them into the edges of the cake. They should go all the way around and stick out above the top of the cake (like a crown)by a couple of centimetres.
- When you are ready to serve, top the cake with a (neatly arranged) large handful of fresh raspberries and sprinkle those with a generous topping of popping candy.