- 375 g soft eating dried Turkish figs
- 200 ml brandy
- 1 peel and juice of a large orange
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 550 g cake flour
- 200 g good quality cocoa
- 17.5 ml bicarbonate of soda
- 10 ml baking powder
- 7.5 ml sea salt
- 800 g sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 250 ml warm water (about 110°C)
- 450 ml milk
- 225 ml sunflower oil
- 7.5 ml vanilla extract
- For the ganache
- 430 ml fresh cream
- 375 g good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 350 g drained Kirsch-soaked cherries, plus a little liquid for thinning
- For the frosting
- 8 egg whites
- 475 g sugar
- large pinch cream of tartar
- 5 ml vanilla extract
To make the cake: Add the figs to the brandy and heat together gently in a small saucepan with the orange peel and cinnamon. Flame the brandy mixture and allow the figs to caramelise slightly while a little of the alcohol burns off. Put out the flame with the orange juice if necessary.
Remove from the stove and set aside to cool. Sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. Add the sugar, eggs, egg yolk, warm water, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on a low speed until smooth and combined, about 3 minutes.
Remove the cinnamon stick from the cooled brandy and fig mixture and roughly process in a food processor. Fold into the cake mixture.
Divide the mixture between three 22cm lined spring-form tins and bake at 160°C until a skewer inserted comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Allow to cool for a little while in the tins, then remove and cool on wire racks.
To make the ganache: Heat the cream to just below boiling point. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted. Transfer 125ml of ganache to another bowl.
Refrigerate all the ganache, stirring occasionally until slightly cooled and thickened, about 10 minutes (do not allow to harden). Set aside reserved 125ml ganache; gently fold drained cherries into the remainder. Add a little cherry liquid to thin if necessary.
To make the frosting: Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes (rub the mixture between your thumb and forefinger to feel for any undissolved sugar crystals).
Starting on a low speed and gradually increasing to high, beat the mixture until the meringue is cool and stiff and glossy peaks are forming, about 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and fold in until combined.
To assemble: Turn over the cakes; spread two layers with cherry ganache and sandwich all three layers together. Spread plain chocolate ganache in a thin layer all over the cake. Allow the chocolate to set a little in the fridge before icing with frosting.
Decorate with fresh flowers dusted with edible glitter. Sprinkle silver balls and secure a ribbon around the base of the cake.
Cook’s tip Julie uses Goldcrest sour pitted cherries when fresh are not available. Fresh cherries should be pitted and gently poached in the Kirsch mixture until tender. Drain before using.