Today marks my 75th post on the blog and also S’tasty’s very 1st Birthday. It’s hard to believe that a whole year of writing, cooking and creating has passed by so quickly. Through writing the blog, I’ve met a whole host of new people and have discovered some other amazing food blogs at home and beyond. The Irish Food Bloggers Association have arranged lots of great events and linked together a whole community of enthusiastic food bloggers from all over the country. When I first started my blog….my traffic consisted of me and the OH. Then it increased to three (me, the OH and my Dad). Next a few other family members started checking in and one day I had a whole 20 visitors! Then with the help of Erno Rubik, Rusty Blazenhoff @Laughing Squid and Vidya Rao @Today.com my audience began to suddenly increase. For the amateur food blogger – it doesn’t pay, so it really helps when your efforts are at least seen and appreciated.

So in the past year S’tasty has grown and hopefully improved. I’m trying to think outside the cakebox :) and hoping to make my photos as appealing to you all as possible. I’d love to be able to share all my food with you, but alas they haven’t invented the necessary taste technology yet. When I started this blog, I didn’t really know where it would take me, but so far I’m loving the journey and can’t wait for another year of S’tasty creations.

I wanted to make a real celebration cake, so I came up with the “Popping Cherry Blackforest Gateaux”. I recently got some new cake tins called the Victoria Sponge Surprise tin made by Alan Silverwood. I used a Silverwood tin to make the Rubik’s Battenberg and was very impressed with it. This particular cake tin is formed in such a way, that it creates a cavity in the cake centre so you can fit in whole lot more filling. The cake wasn’t a success the first time and in truth, I am not entirely satisfied with my second attempt here so it remains a bit of a work in progress. Meanwhile, here is my almost complete “Popping Cherry Blackforest Gateaux Birthday Cake”. Now, that’s a bit of a mouthful.

Here’s how:

Cake

This is Mary Berry’s recipe for Chocolate Sponge cake taken from here. You will need two 7 inch Victoria Sponge Surprise tins.

- 3 large eggs
- 6 oz self-raising flour
- 6 oz caster sugar
- 6 oz softened butter
- 1½ level tsp baking powder
- 1½ oz cocoa powder
- 4 tbsp boiling water

Ganache

- 4oz of dark chocolate
- 1 tblsp of water
- 1 large egg, separated

Filling
- 250ml of double cream lightly whipped
- 1-2 tablespoons of brandy
- 25 -30 cherries pitted

Popping cherries
- 2oz of white chocolate
- 2oz of dark chocolate
- 8-10 fresh cherries (washed and dried) and with stones and stems intact
- 1 oz of popping candy

Decoration
 - 6-8 fresh cherries (washed and dried) and with stones and stems intact
- A dusting of cocoa powder

Break the chocolate into pieces place in a glass bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of water to the chocolate. Now place the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. It’s important that the bowl isn’t actually touching the water. Once melted, remove from the heat. Beat it with a wooden spoon until smooth. It will be a little thick at this stage, due to the addiction of the water.

In a small bowl, beat the 2 egg yolks together. Next pour them into the chocolate mixture and beat them well in, until all the egg yolk has combined with the chocolate. Wait about 5-10 minutes for the mix to cool.
Meanwhile beat the egg white until it forms soft peaks. Take one spoonful of the egg white and mix well into the chocolate. Then carefully fold the rest of the egg into the chocolate mix. Cover the bowl with Clingfilm and leave to cool for about an hour in the fridge.

For the cake
To prepare the tin, grease the inside with butter and dust with flour. Line the inner circle of the tin with round disc of parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a large mixing bowl/ food processor beat together the eggs, flour, caster sugar, butter and baking powder until all combined.
In separate mixing bowl, mix the cocoa and the water together to make a stiff paste. Add this to the cake mixture. And stir until well mixed in. Using a spatula, divide the mixture roughly in half and pour into the two prepared tins. Gently tap the tins on a counter top/hard surface to ensure they are level and to eliminate air bubbles. Place in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. To test, insert a sharp knife and if the knife comes out clean (i.e. with no sticky mixture left on it), the cake is cooked.

Leave to cool in the tin, and then remove the tin, from the cake just as you would a cheesecake from a loose bottomed tin. Place the cake on an upturned bowl. Gently push the sides of the tin downward, until is removed. Carefully lift the cake and place on a wire rack. Remove the top of the tin and lave to cook on the rack until cool enough to assemble.

Meanwhile, now is a good time to make the chocolate popping cherries. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. In a separate bowl, melt the dark chocolate over another saucepan of boiling water. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a large baking sheet. Place the popping candy on a plate. Once melted, dip a cherry in the white chocolate until three quarters coated, then dip the chocolate covered cherry into the popping candy. Then place gently onto the parchment paper to set.  Continue with the same method with the rest of the cherries. I made 6 white chocolate ones and 6 dark chocolate ones. Leave to set and harden in the fridge.

Next, whip the cream and add the brandy to flavour the cream. Place the cream in one piping back with a medium sized nozzle and the chocolate ganache in another piping bag, also with a medium sized nozzle. Have the pitted cherries ready for the assembly.

To assemble the cake, lay the bottom half of the cake on your serving plate. Pipe a thin circle of cream around the edge of the inner circle. Next pipe a thin circle of ganache beside the circle of cream. Continue like this until you have filled the base of the cake with circles of cream and ganache. Carefully place the cherries on top of the cream and ganache. Leave the other layer of cake on the wire rack. Using the same piping bags of cream and ganache, fill the centre of the other cake exactly the same way as the previous one. (A circle of cream, a circle of ganache etc. Place the two sides of cake close together and in one decisive move place the top layer of cake on top of the base layer. A small bit of cream may squeeze out the edge but you can push it back in with a spoon. Next, dust the cake with a dusting of sieved cooking chocolate and decorate with some of the popping chocolate cherries. Place some fresh cherries on the side of the serving plate as decoration.

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