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3  1/2 oz (100g) plain chocolate

6 oz (175g) unsalted butter, softened

11 oz (300g) light muscovado (unrefined, crystalled) sugar

3 medium eggs

11 oz (300g) plain flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/4 pint (150 ml) sour cream

5 tbsp orange-flavored liqueur (such as Cointreau)

3 tbsp fresh orange juice


To Decorate:

1 lb (450g) white chocolate

2 oz (50g) plain chocolate

2 oz (50g) milk chocolate

1 pint (600ml) double cream

Edible gold dusting powder



1.    Preheat oven to 375 F degrees (190 C).  Grease and line three 8 inch (20 cm) loose-based sandwich tins.

2.    Break the chocolate into a pan with 1/4 pint (150ml) water and heat very gently, stirring until melted and smooth.  Leave to cool slightly.

3.    While the chocolate is cooling, cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl.  Gradually beat in the eggs a little at a time, adding some flour to prevent the mixture curdling.  Stir in the melted chocolate.

4.    Sift the remaining flour and the baking powder into the bowl.  Add the sour cream and gently fold the mixture together with a spoon.

5.    Turn the cake mixture into the prepared tins and level the top of each with a spoon.  Bake for about 25 minutes until just firm to touch.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

6.    Mix together the liqueur and orange juice and carefully drizzle over the cakes.


To Decorate:

  1. Line three baking sheets with greaseproof paper.  To make the cut out stars, break 2 oz (50g) of the white chocolate into a small bowl and melt in a microwave or over a pan of gently simmering water.  Pour onto one of the lined baking sheets and tilt until the chocolate spreads to a thin layer.  Leave until set.  Repeat the process with the plain and milk chocolate.

2.    For the ganache (white-chocolate cream) topping, heat the cream in a heavy-based saucepan until hot but not boiling.  Break the remaining white chocolate into the pan and leave until melted, stirring frequently.  Pour into a bowl, leave to cool slightly then chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

3.    Whisk the ganache until it thickens to form soft swirls.  (Don’t whisk until firmly peaking or the mixture might start to separate.)

4.    Place one of the three cakes on a large, flat serving plate and cover the top with a little ganache.  Sandwich the second cake on top, then sandwich the third on top of that using a little more ganache.  Using a palette knife, spread the remaining ganache over the top and sides of the cake, making big swirls, until evenly covered.  Chill.

5.    Using a small star cutter (or two different sizes if you have them) cut out stars from the sheets of melted white, milk and dark chocolate.  Carefully press the chocolate stars from the cutter and place on a plate.

6.    Sprinkle the chocolate stars with gold dusting powder then gently press them into the ganache on top of the cake so they stand at different angles.  Chill the gateau until ready to serve.


*From Ideal home’s Complete Guide to Christmas, Christmas 2001 Special Issue

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