Chocolate Buttermilk Birthday Cake with Peanut Butter Milo Frosting & Peanut Ganache
If you'll indulge me, I want to dedicate todays not-a-newsletter to my partner who turned 25 yesterday. (Hence the birthday cake). I seldom think I hide too much of myself from the internet, which can be both a good and not-so-good thing, possibly not in equal measure though. Yet, a few stories, and a fair amount of food videos can't possibly capture all that much. In conclusion, I do think I shield myself from criticism on the internet; I'll be mostly politically-correct, I'll smile a lot, and I'll show the merry, beautiful, and amorous parts of my life. I know I don't owe anybody a larger lens but I also know how much it helps me to see people show their ordinary, chaotic, misshapen lives. One thing in particular that I don't tend to share too much of is my relationship.
I shy away from the fact that I technically/un-technically met my boyfriend December of last year. We have known each other since Middle School because he is a friend of my brothers, but truly it feels as if we met last year. Within 7 months, we had moved in together. This is a statement, that, had any of my friends made, I would have been round with a bottle of wine and a written statement as to why they needed to pull the plug on that bullshit. Moving in with someone during the honeymoon phase is wildly incalculable. You absolute muppet.
We have had Christian-Bale-level blow ups over Peter-Dinklage-sized things (but these are far and few between). So, that might indicate the teething problems were slightly more than I had hoped for but nothing I hadn't expected. Except, we have had many more carbonara-in-bed-(hello Heartburn reference)-esqué moments than anything else. And during a stressful lockdown no less! What I'm here to say is, this guy felt different, and he felt special. I am bombarded by the whole 'you don't need a man to be happy' thing happening on social media right now. I am incredibly here for that narrative but, by that same token, it feels almost wrong to move in with a boy at 24 because of it. By Thor's hammer though he truly is wonderful, and I want you all to know that. He deserved a cake filled with his favourite things to celebrate a quarter of a century and luckily for you one of those things is chocolate.
Big side note: everyone said it was one of the best cakes they have ever eaten. Do with that what you will. (I think you should make it don't you?)
2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup (226 grams) butter
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract OR 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour OR cake flour
1 cup (85 grams) Cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk (or Kefir)
½ cup strong black coffee
Peanut Ganache Filling
4g Powdered gelatine
24g Cold water
380g Double cream
130g peanut butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste)
½ teaspoon of sea salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons whole milk
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
113 grams of semi-sweet chocolate
2/3 cup milo powder
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup of roasted, salted peanuts - blended or crushed
Preheat the oven to 180c (bake) or 160c (fanbake). Grease two 20cm cake tins with softened butter. Make sure to cover all round the edges and the base of the tins. Cut out two circular pieces of baking paper that fit into the bottom of the tin - it's okay if they're a little small. Place the baking paper rounds at the base of your cake tins and smooth it out. Grease/butter over the baking paper. Set these aside.¹
Beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until light and fluffy. About 5-6 minutes.
Add your eggs in one by one, making sure to fully incorporate each egg into the batter before adding the next one. When all the eggs are in, beat for another 2 minutes.
Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, & baking soda. Turn the mixer on and slowly incorporate the buttermilk and coffee. Once fully incorporated, turn the mixer off (we don't want to over-mix the cake or it will get too tough).
Bake the cakes for 36-42 minutes or until a knife comes out clean OR the cake bounces bake when you lightly press it in the middle.
Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 5-10 mins before removing them. Make sure to peel the baking paper off the bottom. Then let them cool on a wire rack before putting them in the fridge/freezer.
Place the cakes in the freezer for 1 hour or the fridge for 3-4 hours.
Peanut Ganache Filling
Add your gelatine to a small bowl and pour the cold water over it. Leave it for 5 minutes to bloom.
Melt your peanut butter and pour it into a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, heat your cream and vanilla up over a medium-low heat until the cream is hot and steam is rising from it (but not bubbling). Add the gelatine into the cream and stir until fully incorporated.
Pour the cream in three parts over the melted peanut butter - fully mixing the cream in before adding the next bit.
Place a piece of clingfilm over the top of the ganache, making sure to touch the clingfilm to the top of the ganache so that it doesn't form a skin. Then put it in the fridge for 5-8 hours or overnight.
Melt the semi-sweet chocolate and let it cool whilst you make the icing.
Beat together butter, cocoa powder, and salt until fully incorporated. The mixture will be very thick.
Turn off the mixer, scrape the sides of the bowl, and stir in the peanut butter.
Turn the mixer on low and add in the icing sugar. Then slowly add in the milk, melted chocolate, and vanilla whilst the sugar is being mixed in. Beat until smooth (about 1 minute).
In a separate bowl/jug mix together the milo and cream. Turn the mixer to medium and pour in half the milo/cream mixture, once incorporated, turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides. Pour the rest of the mixture in and beat until smooth (about 1 minute).
Get your ganache out of the fridge and whip it up until you have a thick ganache that is slightly thicker and stiffer than whipped cream (about 5 minutes of whipping).
Get your cake bases out of the fridge/freezer and use a knife to trim off any raised bits to flatten them out (so that it's easier to ice the cake).
Pipe 2/3rds of the ganache on the bottom layer of the cake. Place this carefully in the freezer for 10 minutes. This is to make it easier to frost. Then place the second layer on top of the ganache.
Crumb coat the entire cake with about 1/4 of the frosting. This means a small layer of frosting spread evenly all over the cake. Place the cake back in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Then Frost the entire cake with the remaining frosting.
For decoration add a few bits of the remaining peanut ganache on the side of the cake and smooth it over to create a marbled effect. I used a turntable to do this and just ran my palate knife around the edge. Trim off any bits of frosting/ganache that fall out or off the cake.
Press the blended peanuts on to the top of cake gently. Then leave in the fridge until you're ready to eat it!
If you only have one cake tin, bake one layer at a time and simply replace the baking paper with a new piece when you bake the next layer.