Drip cakes. They're tall. They're elegant. They're eye catching. They're show-stoppers. They're down-right sexy!
In fact they're all the rage on Instagram and Pinterest right now. There's pink ones, blue ones, cream ones, chocolate ones. Some are topped with macarons, chocolate and candy. Whilst others use seasonal fruits and flowers. There are those styled with 'dropped' ice cream cones and even those which combine an illusion cake with the decoration of a drip cake. There really is no limit to the style and flavours which can be brought to a drip cake. And as such they make the perfect bake for any number of occasions; birthdays,
anniversaries, weddings or simply 'just because'. In fact check out my 'Impressive Cakes' Pinterest board for drip cake ideas and inspiration.
I've been wanting an excuse to attempt a drip cake for ages now, and although I tend to only bake cakes for special occasions the perfect excuse arrived when Alor, the star of the YouTube channel The PinProject, contacted me asking if I'd like to collaborate with her on a bake. In fact it was her video showcasing how to assemble an illusion cake (also referred to as anti-gravity cake) which provided the "Ah!" moment when I was preparing to make my jellybean illusion cake.
Of course I accepted Alor's invitation to collaborate on a
bake, after all being a fan of home baking I need very little excuse!
After a few e-mails back and forth Alor and I were in agreement that a
chocolate & strawberry drip cake would be the perfect bake. Not
only does everybody love chocolate, but strawberries are abundant in the
shops now that summer has arrived, and of course drip cakes
are so of the moment.
Now, at the top of my post I said that drip cakes are down-right sexy. And in most instances they are, there's no getting away from that. But my drip cake, being the first I've attempted, is less beautiful, lacy, seductive, lingerie but more akin to Bridget Jones' belly warmers 😉 OK , you're not going to see this particular cake in a glossy magazine, but in just the first attempt at making this cake I've learnt a lot (more of that shortly). I'm sure this homemade cake would still be warmly accepted as a birthday treat, and despite it's visual flaws it tasted absolutely delicious. Mr E, whose sweet tooth is very restrained, even went back for a second slice and our elderly neighbour, who we often share baked goods with, went out of her way to pass comment on how much she enjoyed the cake.
The cake itself is constructed from 3 layers of vanilla sponge. These were sandwiched together with strawberry jam and a buttercream frosting. The cake was then covered with a subtle pink frosting. A chocolate ganache 'drip' was then applied to the cake before the decoration was completed with dehydrated strawberries, chocolate coated strawberries and chocolate shards.
So, as I've already eluded to, there are clear visual flaws with my first attempt at this Chocolate and Strawberry Drip Cake. As you can see the chocolate ganache has drizzled too far down the side of the cake. Although my reading preparation had said to chill the cake prior to applying the drip effect, I clearly hadn't chilled it sufficiently. So based on my experience of making this Chocolate & Strawberry Drip Cake, here are my three top tips for decorating a drip cake:
- Chill, chill, chill the cake. This step speeds up the setting of the ganache as it trickles down the side of the cake and also prevents the buttercream frosting from melting when the ganache is applied. Although I chilled our cake in the fridge for 30 minutes before applying the ganache, this clearly wasn't sufficient - or our fridge wasn't cold enough. So if you're not sure if your cake is cold enough er on the side of caution and chill it a little longer. Or even pop it into the freezer for a few minutes.
- Ensure your chocolate ganache isn't overly warm before applying the drip effect. I had allowed our ganache about 20 minutes to cool before I attempted this step. Although it had cooled down there was still a little residual heat in the mixture. So my second tip when decorating a drip cake would be to ensure the ganache is lukewarm (blood warm) - so when you touch it it neither feels warm nor cold. This again will help slow down the ganache as it trickles down the cake. That said though, avoid letting the ganache cool down and firm up too much before applying the drip effect to the cake as it will clearly be reluctant to form any drip effect at all.
- Thirdly, once the drip effect has been applied, allow the the chocolate ganache to firm up a little before arranging your cake topper decorations. I didn't allow any time between applying the chocolate ganache frosting to the upper surface of the cake and arranging the strawberries on top. This is possibly the biggest mistake I made as the the weight of the strawberries pushed a large amount of ganache down the side of the cake, overriding any nice 'drips' I may have created. So, be patient and allow things to firm up a little before completing the decoration.
So, if you too have never made a drip cake before, or simply fancy watching a cake demo, have a read of my recipe below and then pop over to The PinProject on YouTube and watch Alor demonstrate how to make a drip cake.
So, let's get to it and bake!
Chocolate & Strawberry Drip Cake
Yield: 1 x 7" 3 layers cake
Time: hands on time around 1 hr 10 minutes; plus 20-25 minutes bake time; cooling time.
Freezable: Yes, undecorated
You will need:
3 x 7" Sandwich Cake Tins (or similar, see note a below)
Mixing Bowls (large & medium)
Electric Hand Held Beater
Spatula or large Metal Spoon
Bowl & Pan suitable for building a bain marie for melting chocolate
Cake Stand or Plate
Chocolate Thermometer (not essential but ideal)
For the Vanilla Sponges
270g Unsalted Butter, softened (plus a little extra for preparing the tins)
270g Caster Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Table Salt
5 medium Eggs, beaten
270g SR Flour (or Plain Flour with 1 heaped tsp Baking Powder) (Plus a little extra flour for preparing the tins)
1 - 2 tbsp Milk
For the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
150g Unsalted Butter, softened
300g Icing Sugar
1 capful Vanilla Extract
1 tbsp Milk
Pink Food Paste Colourant (we used Sugar Flair Colours Spectral Paste in the colour 'Pink', which is vegetarian)
For the Dehydrated Strawberries
200g Fresh Strawberries (or buy them ready dehydrated)
For the Chocolate Dipped Strawberries & Chocolate Shard Decorations
400g Fresh Strawberries
200g Milk or Plain Chocolate (I used milk chocolate)
For the Chocolate Ganache
100ml Double Cream
100g Milk or Plain Chocolate (I used milk chocolate)
For Sandwiching the Cakes
1.5 tbsp Strawberry Jam
How to make it:
1. Dehydrate the strawberries a day or two before you need the cake (or use ready prepared shop bought ones). Preheat the oven to the coolest setting. Base line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Wash and hull the strawberries. Use a paring knife or similar to slice the strawberries fairly thinly (about 3mm) Aim to slice them all a similar thickness so that they dehydrate at the same rate. Discard (or eat) the first and last slices of the strawberry (ie/ the outer pieces as these don't seem to dehydrate as effectively.) Arrange the slices of strawberries onto the baking tray and place in the oven. Allow them to dehydrate for about 8 hours. Once they are ready they will be dry and crisp. Remove from the oven. Once cooled place in an airtight container. Alternatively, use a dehydrator rather than an oven if you have one available, and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 180c / Fan 160c / Gas 4.
3. Prepare the sandwich tins.
Grease the base and side of the sandwich tins. Base line the tins with greaseproof paper. Standing by the sink and holding a cake tin on its side place a teaspoon of
flour into the tin. Rotate the tin so that all of the
greased sides are covered in flour. Knock out the excess flour. Repeat with the other cake tins.
4. Make the vanilla sponge. Place
the softened butter and sugar into a good sized bowl. Beat together
with a wooden spoon or electric beaters until very pale and fluffy.
Add the vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Beat again to combine. Add the beaten eggs a little at a time, beating well after each
addition. Add 1 tbsp milk and beat again. Sieve the flour (and baking powder if using plain flour) into the
mixture. Using a spatula or large metal spoon fold this in gently. The batter should have a dropping consistency (see note b below), if it is still a little thick add a little more milk and mix to combine.
5. Fill the sandwich tins.
Divide the mixture between the prepared sandwich tins. Use the back of a
spoon or spatula to level out the mixture. You're
aiming for the tins to be half to two - thirds full. Avoid over filling them. If the tin seems a little too full remove a little of the batter with a spoon. Make a small hollow in the
centre of the batter to encourage the cake to bake level rather than
domed. See note c below.
6. Bake. Place the tins in the
centre of the oven and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes. You may need to
rotate the tins after 15 minutes of baking. The cake is
ready when an inserted skewer comes out clean. The cake will also pull
away slightly from the side of the tin. Once baked, remove from the
oven and place on a cooling tray. After 5 minutes carefully remove the
cakes from their tins and allow to fully cool on the cooling tray.
7. Meanwhile make the buttercream frosting.
Place the butter into a mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon to beat until soft. Add the vanilla extract and beat again to combine. Sieve half of the icing sugar into the butter and mix together. Add the remaining icing sugar and mix well. Add a little milk and beat to slacken the mixture.
8. Prepare to assemble the cake.
Place the strawberry jam into a pudding bowl. Stir to loosen.
Remove any large chunks of strawberry. Add a couple of drips of water and stir again. If your cakes have domed during the bake use a serated knife to level the top of the cake.
9 Start the assemble. See note d below. Place one of the vanilla sponges on your chosen cake stand or plate. Spoon half of the
strawberry jam onto the cake's upper surface. Spread it out to the edge of the cake. Select the sponge which will be sat in the middle of the cake. Spoon a little vanilla frosting to that sponge and spread it out with a pallet knife or the back of a table knife (non serated side). Carefully turn that cake over and sandwich it against the base sponge (the jam and vanilla frosting will now be in contact with one another.) Spoon the remaining strawberry jam onto the top of the second sponge. Spread it out to the edge of the cake. Spoon some vanilla frosting onto the third sponge and spread it out to the edge of the cake. Again, carefully turn that sponge over and sandwich it onto of the jam face of the stacked sponges. Try to ensure that the three stacked
layers of cake aren't leaning.
10. Colour the remaining frosting. Use a tooth pick or the the end of a spoon to take a little colour paste from the container. Mix it into the remaining buttercream frosting until you have an even colour. If the colour is too pale for what you are aiming for add a little more paste, and mix again. Continue until you have the colour you want.
11. Start to apply the frosting. Use a spoon or pallet knife to apply some coloured frosting to the top of the cake. Spread it out. Use a pallet knife to apply some frosting to the sides of the cake. Ensure that all of the surfaces have a
nice thin layer of frosting. Don't be concerned if the frosting contains a few cake crumbs as the next layer of frosting will hide those. Place the cake into the fridge for half an
hour to allow the frosting to firm up.
12. Finish applying the frosting. Apply the remaining frosting
to the top and sides of the cake with a pallet knife. Take your time to smooth out the frosting as best you can. Aim
to get the top and side of the cake as smooth as you can.
13. Chill the cake. Place the cake in the fridge to chill.
14. Prepare to work with the tempered chocolate. Clean and hull the strawberries. Dry them thoroughly. Lay a sheet of greaseproof paper onto your work surface, tack it down with cellotape if necessary.
15. Temper the chocolate. (ideal but not essential - see note e
Break the 200g chocolate into pieces. Place ¾ of it into the bowl of
a bain marie. Use a sharp knife to chop the remaining chocolate small. Ensure the bowl of the bain marie doesn't touch the water in the pan
beneath. Place the pan and suspended bowl over
a medium heat on the hob. If using milk chocolate, melt it to 32.5c / 90f. Remove
the bowl from the ban marie. Add the remaining broken solid chocolate to the melted
chocolate and stir together. This will help to cool the chocolate.
Allow the milk chocolate to cool to 27-28c / 80-82f. Place the bowl of
chocolate back over the pan of warm water and allow it to re-heat to 30c /
86f. (The tempering temperatures are slightly different when working with plain chocolate. These are: melt to 40-45c / 104-113f. Cool to 27-28c / 80-82f. Reheat to 31-32c / 89-90f, as advised by a chocolate recipe book called 'Tempt').
16. Start to make the chocolate shards. Spoon half of the melted chocolate onto the greaseproof paper. Use a pallet knife to spread it out thinly, around 1-2mm thick. Scatter a few dehydrated strawberry slices and sprinkles over the top. Allow to set.
17. Dip the strawberries. Dip the pointed end of the prepared strawberries into the remaining melted chocolate. Set aside on a plate. Scatter with sprinkles. Allow the chocolate to set.
18. Make the chocolate ganache. Pour the 100ml cream into a small pan and set over a low heat on the hob. Whilst the cream is warming break the 100g chocolate into small pieces by chopping it on a board. Place the chopped chocolate into a bowl. Once the cream has started to steam, but is not boiling, remove it from the heat and pour it into the bowl over the chocolate. Use a spoon to stir the mixture until the chocolate has melted and the ganache is smooth and well blended. Set aside.
19. Apply the drip to the chilled cake. Once the cake is very cool and the ganache is lukewarm (bloodwarm) but still in a thick liquid form, apply the drip decoration. With a teaspoon spoon a small amount of ganache to the top of the cake near the edge. Allow it to trickle down the sides. Repeat all the way around, applying smaller amounts and slightly larger anounts of the ganache to achieve shorter and longer drips of the chocolate. Once the drip decoration has been completed spoon the remaining ganache to the top of the cake so that it covers all of the soft pink frosting. Set the cake aside to allow the ganache to firm up.
20. Break the tempered chocolate. When the temperate chocolate has completely set on the sheet of greaseproof paper use a sharp knife to cut it into pointy triangles / shards.
21. Complete decorating the cake. Once the chocolate ganache is firm gently position the dehydrated strawberries to the exposed frosting around the base of the cake. Arrange the chocolate coated strawberries and chocolate shards to the top of cake. Gently but firmly push the chocolate shards a little way into the top of the cake to secure them. Any remaining chocolate coated strawberries, shards and dehydrated strawberries can be set aside to serve with the cake.
a) If you don't have 3 x 7" sandwich tins for this bake, you could either bake the sponge batter in batches (as I did - I only have 2 of these tins. The remaining batter awaiting an available cake tin was covered and didn't suffer whilst it waited 25 minutes). Or perhaps use a deep cake tin and split it in half horizonatally. This will create two layers. Though consider that using a deep cake tin will mean that the bake time will increase substantially.
b) Dropping consistency - this is when the batter falls slightly reluctantly from a spoon when held vertically. It shouldn't run off the spoon nor cling to the spoon and take over 5 seconds to drop off.
c) Avoid overfilling the sandwich cake tins. You will probably have a
little sponge batter remaining, consider using it to make a muffin
sized cupcake and bake it for about 20 minutes. If you have room in
oven you could bake it at the same time as the cake layers.
d) Avoid using too much jam and frosting between the cake layers as this is likely to result in them slipping.
Although I aimed to temper the chocolate I was unsuccessful due to not
having a thermometer suitable for chocolate work. Tempering gives the
chocolate a lovely sheen and snap when broken.
f) Remaining dehydrated strawberry pieces could stored in an airtight container to eat as a snack or with a breakfast.