Monday, 17 March 2014

Orange and Chocolate Pudding Layer Cake

The strangest thing happened yesterday.  My mother always has an opinion about everything, including food. I mean, she is a great cook and an excellent baker, so most likely she will have something to say on the subject.  She doesn't compliment often, not directly anyway, but when she's quiet, you can consider it a good sign. Meaning: she likes it... she's thinking about it, what's in it, how to make it, etc.

So, yesterday I was cooking cauliflower macaroni and cheese (utterly delicious recipe by Not Quite Nigella. Lorraine, if you're reading this, my mother absolutely love this dish), and I could see my mother having a slice of the orange and chocolate pudding cake.  Whilst stirring the pasta, I was anxiously waiting for the verdict. Would she has something to say or would it be a silent?!

Turned out, my mother had something something to say.  She said, "This is really nice. You can really taste the orange and the chocolate pudding is not overwhelmingly sweet."  And she had another slice and she packed few slices for some friends she's meeting later.  Hours later when she got home, she ate another slice, complimented the pudding again and passed on all the lovely comments from her friends.

I was stunned and confused by the explicit reaction but nonetheless over the moon.  This pudding layer cake has my mom's stamp of approval.

You can be all creative with the flavour combo for the sponge and pudding, but I do love orange and chocolate.  And if you ever wonder what Terry's chocolate orange might taste like in cake/pudding form, this is it.  The orange sponge is light and fragrant; and with the rich and velvety mousse like chocolate pudding, it's sublime.

To achieve the beautiful texture of the chocolate pudding, I use agar-agar.  If you've never heard of it, it's a vegetarian gelatin substitute made from seaweed.  You can get it from a specialty food store or online. Unlike regular gelatin sheet that usually needs to be soaked in cold water to soften before use; agar-agar needs to be brought to a boil in order for the setting to occur.

One might think that making the pudding layer cake is a bit time consuming, since you have to wait for the pudding to half-set before you add the layer of sponge, and so on... but it's actually not the case.  The pudding sets within minutes; and the actual process of baking the sponge and making the chocolate pudding is very easy.  Come on, I'm sure you're tempted :) 

Orange and Chocolate Pudding Layer Cake

For the orange sponge:
6 eggs
120 gr caster sugar
1 tbsp water
125 gr plain flour
120 gr butter, melted
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp vanilla paste, or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod

For the chocolate pudding:
1200 ml milk
75 gr best quality cocoa powder
2 tsp instant espresso
300 gr caster sugar
14 gr agar-agar powder
8 egg whites (save the yolks, read notes below)
a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 190 C and line and grease a 20 cm square baking tin.

To make the orange sponge, using a free-standing or a hand mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla paste and water until it's thick, pale and airy.  This will take a few minutes.  With the mixer running on low/medium, slowly add in the flour.  Then carefully fold in the orange zest and melted butter.  Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 25-30 minutes. When a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, it's done. Set it aside to cool completely and slice the cake in two, horizontally.  

Now, the chocolate pudding...  in a big pot, heat up the milk, cocoa powder, instant espresso, 150 gr of the sugar and the agar-agar.  Keep stirring until the cocoa and sugar dissolved.  When the mixture comes to a boiling point, turn off the heat and set aside.

In another bowl, again, either using a free-standing or hand mixer, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks. Then add the rest of the sugar, a tablespoon at a time whilst continue whisking until it's thick and glossy.  Fold in the chocolate mixture a little at a time until everything is incorporated.  The meringue here will give the pudding a mousse like consistency. 

Using a clean 20 cm square tin, place 1/3 of the chocolate pudding mixture into the tin.  Let this half-set  (it is important that the pudding is half-set, and not completely firm, otherwise the layers may separate). Then place 1 half of the sponge followed by another 1/3 of the chocolate mixture.  Let this half-set again and place another layer of sponge and top with the rest of the chocolate pudding.  Put this in the fridge to firm up for at least a couple of hours... and you know what to do next...

Note: I hate wasting food and there's no way I'm gonna throw away 8 egg yolks. You can make loads of spaghetti carbonara if you have an army to feed, or custard/ice-cream is another good idea; but if you're like me and you live in a household where there's no such thing as too much cakes, you bake a Swiss roll :). So, my question of the day, what would you make with the extra yolks?


  1. Orange sponge and chocolate pudding...what a divine combination!

  2. I'm seriously tempted. This sounds great. If I've got egg yolks then it usually requires physical restraint to stop me making creme pat, even if I've got nothing to eat it with.

  3. well, it looks so impressive and I adore the combo of orange and choc so i'm not surprised but, as you say, I would also be very wary she's not preparing to attack!!

  4. wow so sweet must have made your day

  5. What a great combination!! I can see why your mother couldn't' stop eating it :) I think it's sweet that she reacted the way she did!!

  6. Aww shucks thank you for the shoutout! I'm so glad that you both like the mac and cheese :D This cake looks amazing, especially the texture! :o

  7. This looks delightful! I can see why you were over the moon, and your mom too!
    Love it.


  8. This looks and sounds so delcious! Sounds like a keeper to me! No wonder mom sent you over the moon! Egg yolks, I'd go for creme brulee, lemon curd, or even freeze them for using later.

  9. Im gonna try to make this into a birthday cake. Let the guys cut into it expecting a typical sponge cake and frostings. Sweet!!!

  10. Ok, so I'm in the middle of making this delicious looking concoction. I'm just wondering if it's necessary to line the clean tin for the assembly stage? If so, with what, I was wondering maybe cling film? Any advice much appreciated.

  11. Hi there! If you wish to line the tin, cling film or silicone parchment would be great. But I didn't line mine and it turned out just fine. Hope you enjoy this. I feel like making this again soon. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

    1. Hi Michael, OK, so going off your experience I didn't bother lining the tin, I think it'll be ok, if not, I'll get the blowtorch out! I think you must have used a deeper tin than me, I couldn't fit all the pudding mixture in. You might want to mention the depth of the tin on the recipe. I did make one tweak, I brushed each sponge layer with Cointreau for some boozy orange flavour. One observation, your pudding mixture looks a lot darker than mine, I wonder why that might be? Tasting tomorrow, can't wait!

    2. I think you are wise with the blowtorch! :)
      Yes, my mom's tin is a deeper one. Should mentioned that. Sorry. The Cointreau is brilliant! I will do the same next time.
      The cocoa powder perhaps, I always use Green and Black's Organics (my favourite).

    3. Result! With a little encouragement from my blowtorch, it came out of the pan just fine. Looks fabulous, though I may drizzle a little (lot) dark ganache over it tomorrow. Here's a link to a few pictures of the making... Thanks for the inspiring recipe! I think for a first bake it has turned out pretty good.