Picture the scene.. It’s 1996, I’m 15, wearing black lipstick, listening to The Cure and writing cringingly bad poetry. I have a secret. A big secret.
The truth is, I love cooking. I mean I really love cooking. It’s way not cool to be a teenage goth that knows how to make a soufflé. I had Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook and I was not afraid to use it. I adored Mary before The Bake Off made her cool. I pored over that book for hours. I dreamed of the creations in it, sophisticated duck á l’orange, fluorescent yellow mango cheesecake and fancy pants coronation chicken. (Surely they were a bit out of date even in the 1990s? I’m not that old, right? Please? Someone?)
One dish stood out even more than all the others. The dreamy, creamy, light tiramisu. It was the height of cosmopolitan cooking, European, with booze in too! I loved making it. Seeing the eggs transform into this silky, cloud-like dessert never failed to secretly cheer me from my teenage angst. I made it at every opportunity.
I still love and use that same recipe for tiramisu now, 18 years later. It was only a matter of time before the flavours made it into a cake.
The very kind people at Sugar and Crumbs had sent me some of their new flavoured icing sugars to try, one of which is coffee. I was really impressed with the delicate coffee flavour it gave the icing. If you can’t get hold of this sugar, you can use normal sugar with coffee added (it’s explained at the end of the recipe).
- 350g Unsalted butter
- 125g Soft light brown sugar
- 225g Caster sugar
- 6 Free range eggs
- 350g Self-raising flour
- 2 Tbsp cocoa
- 2 Tbsp instant coffee granules
- 2 Tbsp boiling water
- 500g Unsalted butter
- 500g Coffee flavoured icing sugar*
- 200g Full fat cream cheese
- 1 Tsp vanilla extract
- 100g Dark chocolate, grated
- About 20 chocolate coffee beans
- Grease 2 x 7″ round deep cake tins.
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Cream your room temperature butter with your brown sugar and caster sugar until it’s pale, light and fluffy.
- Mix in the eggs, one at a time, beating really well after each egg. Don’t worry if it starts to look a bit curdled, it’ll all come good.
- Mix in your flour. If you’ve been using a mixer, do this bit by hand. It helps to keep the sponge light.
- Pop one of your greased tins on the scales and weigh in 650g of the cake batter you have in your bowl (or just guess half).
- In a mug, mix together the cocoa, coffee and boiling water until dissolved.
- Stir this into the remaining half of the cake batter and put into the second prepared tin.
- Smooth out both tins of batter with the back of a spoon. Make a bit of a dip in the middle to account for rising.
- Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. You might need to adjust the time by 5 minutes either way depending on your oven.
- Meanwhile make your icing. Beat your butter until it’s pale, light and fluffy.
- Beat in your icing sugar. Beat for about 10 minutes until light and pale.
- Beat in the cream cheese.
- When your cakes are completely cold, use a carving knife to level them. Trim the top crust off. This is important, it’s not a waste of cake (taste testing compulsory). If you don’t do this, with a cake this size it will be wonky.
- Then split each cake in half horizontally, so you'll end up with 4 layers of cake.
- Sandwich each layer together (alternating the sponge types) with your buttercream, and a layer on top.
- Cover the sides of your cake with buttercream, then roll in the grated chocolate.
- Now cover the top of the cake with more buttercream, pipe swirls and add your chocolate coffee beans.
What’s your oldest cookery book and your most loved recipe? What were you cooking when you were 15…?