The combination of blackberry and sweet, spicy star anise is a perfect pairing, a reminder of the boiled blackberry and liquorice sweets I loved as a child. Unsurprisingly, the two flavours also work wonders when paired with chocolate. The cake for this recipe is a simple affair, and given extra depth of flavour with the addition of wholemeal rye flour. To finish, it’s filled with lightly whipped cream, giving the cake an almost black forest vibe.
Blackberry and star anise chocolate cake
Prep 40 min
Cook 1 hr 20 min
For the blackberry and star anise jam
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 star anise
300g golden caster sugar
For the rye chocolate cake
65g unsalted butter, diced
75g dark chocolate (65-75% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
120g plain flour
80g wholemeal rye flour
¾ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp fine sea salt
200g light brown sugar
35g cocoa powder
150ml hot strong black coffee
170ml soured cream
1 large egg, plus 2 large yolks
For the chocolate ganache frosting
150g unsalted butter, diced
185g dark chocolate (65-75% cocoa solids)
2 tbsp golden syrup
150ml double cream
150ml double cream
150g blackberries, a third cut in half
Star anise, for decoration (optional)
Sterilise a jar for the jam before starting. Put the fruit, lemon juice and star anise in a large saucepan on a medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, for five to 10 minutes, until the fruit has broken down. Slowly pour in the sugar, then increase the heat and boil for five minutes, or until the jam reaches 104C (ie, the temperature at which it will set when cooled; you can also use the wrinkle test on a chilled plate). Decant into the jar, seal and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, grease a deep 20cm round cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper. Using a bain-marie or microwave, gently melt the butter and chocolate, then set aside. Sieve the flours, baking powder and bicarb into a large bowl, add the salt and brown sugar, and whisk to combine. Put the cocoa powder in a jug, pour in the coffee and whisk smooth. Add the soured cream, whole egg and egg yolks, and whisk. Pour the coffee and chocolate mixtures into the bowl of dry ingredients and whisk just until smooth.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake at 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4 for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake springs back to a light touch. Remove, leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then take out of the tin, transfer to a rack and leave to cool completely.
Meanwhile, melt the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a large bowl using a bain-marie or microwave. Stir in the cream, then refrigerate until thickened and spreadable.
Cut the cake horizontally into two layers. Whisk the cream to soft peaks. Spread one of the cake layers with a little ganache and top with the cream, spreading it out evenly. Dollop on four tablespoons of the jam and swirl into the cream. Top with the halved blackberries, then lay the other cake half on top. Spread the remaining ganache all over the top and sides of the cake, decorate with the remaining blackberries and garnish with cocoa nibs and star anise (the latter for decoration only, of course).
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