Claire's Cake

Claire was a co-worker of mine who just left Compass Health. She was working there for 3 years, which is a pretty long time to keep a part-time job whilst studying! She made lots of friends at Compass because she's such a lovely person and there were lots of us sad to see her go. Lucky for her though, she's off to start the next stage of her life, being a nurse! So we had a morning tea for her at work, and my boss asked me if I could bake something for it, fitting for Claire to be leaving. I had seen this cake a little while ago, and I did modify it because unfortunately the Swiss meringue buttercream didn't work so well, but it turned out great in the end! I thought it was a really nice mix of fruit and chocolate and I thought the cake and icing balanced well together. All in all, it was a really nice cake, highly recommended.

PS: If you want to see Claire's blog, the link is here.

Dark Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Buttercream (Makes a 3 layer 20cm cake)

2 1/4 cups plain flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
2t baking soda
2t baking powder
1t salt
210mL buttermilk
200mL espresso or strong, hot brewed coffee
100mL vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 1/2T vanilla essence

300g butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar
1 cup strawberries (or to taste), mashed or pureed

Preheat oven to 180°C. Prepare three 20cm round cake tins with butter, baking paper, and flour or cocoa powder. Tap out excess. In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients. Add all remaining ingredients to bowl with the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour into prepared pans. If possible, use digital kitchen scale and weigh pans for even layers. Batter will be liquidy.
Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Cakes are done when toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs, about 30 minutes. Try not to over-bake. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes then gently invert onto racks until completely cool. When cool, cut off the tops of the cakes from edge, cutting straight across with a very sharp knife. (We tried a blunt knife, it wouldn't cut!) Frost the cake layers by putting a mound of frosting in the middle and spreading to the sides. Then do the same with the top and frost around the sides.

Strawberry Buttercream:
Whip the butter in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar bit by bit and mix until the frosting comes together. Then add the strawberry mixture and beat for 3-5 minutes. If the icing is too runny, add more icing sugar.

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