The first ever showstopper challenge in the Great British Bakeoff was a chocolate celebration cake that had to show original flair and perfect execution.
This is the fanciest cake I’ve made so far – 6 layers of chocolate sponge with salted caramel almond praline and coffee buttercream fillings, an apricot glaze, topped with fondant and chocolate fudge ganache, and decorated with truffles, fondant leaves, and piped chocolate.
Not to mention 3 tiers!
Plus it’s vegan, if you want to try it out or share it with your friends.
It is a nature-themed graduation cake for my daughter who just finished her last year of in-person school here in Canada.
I was so nervous to make a fancy cake like this, but in the end it didn’t go too badly. I enlisted my daughter’s help with the fondant leaves, since her artistic talent far outstrips mine.
Pro tip: if you try to pipe ganache, it will start to cool and get stuck in the nozzle. 🙂
The judges said this cake was moist and tasty as well as looking impressive.
I’m not sure about perfect execution though – I need to work on having cleaner, distinct layers when you cut into it.
Anyway, it was really fun to make!
Great British Bakeoff Season 1, Episode 1, Showstopper
- Use this fudgy torte recipe
- Use this praline recipe, using almonds instead of walnuts
- 3 cups icing sugar
- 1/2 cup vegan butter or margarine
- 2-3 Tbsp freshly brewed espresso coffee
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Use the chocolate ganache part of this recipe
- Use this chocolate coconut truffle recipe
- 680 g package Wilton 2201-2513 White Fondant Icing
- Apricot jam
- Green food coloring
Make two batches of fudgy torte. Use 9-inch cake pans, then cut them into rings of 8”, 6”, and 2 x 4”. I printed out templates to guide my cutting. Slice the cakes in half to make 2 layers in each. If you’re making these ahead, you can freeze each half individually wrapped in plastic wrap.
Make the praline. After it’s set at room temperature, put it into a food processor and blend it up into somewhere between a crumble and a paste. You can make this ahead as well and freeze it if you like.
Make the buttercream. Put the icing sugar, vegan butter, 2 Tbsp coffee, and vanilla in a large bowl. Use an electric mixer to whisk it up into a buttercream. Add another 1 Tbsp of coffee if it’s too dry. It should be creamy and easy to spread.
Make the green fondant leaves. Knead a few drops of green food coloring into a small piece of the fondant. Cut into leaf shapes and carve veins into them using a knife. Get as creative as you want, or get kids to help!
Make the chocolate ganache and cool for about half an hour in the fridge. If you mix it when it comes out of the fridge and it hardens up, just pop it over the double boiler for another few seconds and stir the heck out of it to make it nice and smooth and spreadable again.
Make the chocolate coconut truffles. These also freeze well if you’re making them ahead.
Put the bottom half of the 8″ cake in the center of a large cake platter. Spread a layer of coffee buttercream on top of it, then sprinkle a generous amount of praline over the whole thing, right to the edges. Cover with the top half of the 8″ cake, and glaze the whole thing with slightly warmed up apricot jam, making sure to fill in any gaps in the edges between the two cakes with the jam. To finish this layer, spread an even layer of ganache on top and around the sides of the cake, and finish the bottom edge with lots of praline bits.
For the second tier, work on a piece of parchment paper and then transfer the cake on top of the first tier when it’s done, so you’re not messing up the first cake as you work. Do the same layering of 6″ cake – buttercream – praline – cake – apricot jam. Knead the fondant to make it soft. Spread a bunch of icing sugar onto a large cutting board and roll out the fondant until it’s fairly thin but not transparent. Slice 1/3 off of it to save for the smaller cake. Roll up the larger piece gently onto a rolling pin, then unroll it over the 6″ cake. Use clean hands to smooth the top and press it evenly down the sides of the cake, then trim the fondant right around the bottom of the cake. Use a knife or spatula to pick up the cake and place it on top of the first cake, making sure it’s centered.
Repeat the process for the third tier. 4″ cake – buttercream – praline – cake – apricot jam – fondant – place cake on top.
Decorate the cake as you like with the truffles, fondant leaves, and piped buttercream. You can use a bit of buttercream to stick the fondant leaves to the cake, and you can always place a fondant leaf strategically if one part of your cake had a bit of a mishap.
Take lots of celebratory photos, celebrate that you made this amazing cake, and cut into it to enjoy your layered chocolatey treat!