Some people choose to celebrate by popping bottles of champagne. I go for cake. I do need a special occasion to justify all the dense amounts of butter and sugar and this week, I have one… it’s nearly Christmas! And any Christmas celebration would not be complete without a decadent cake.
I look forward to Christmas each year, as it is the perfect excuse to put the cosy spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger – into everything I eat; spices that warm the body and nourish the soul. A few days ago however, it occurred to me that I had never made anything gingerbread flavoured before.
This was an incredibly abrupt realisation that took me off-guard for a slight moment. I’ve certainly had gingerbread before, in fact; gingerbread is a synonymous Christmas time flavour in my household… a treat that is always readily available. So as a baker, who often makes the outlandish claim to have baked (almost) everything, why had I never made it?
The time had arrived to create a new flavour memory and tradition. As I frantically pulled out all the spices from my overstocked cupboard, the inspiration for this White Christmas Shard Cake struck.
This cake encompasses all that is wonderful about the festive season. It is an undertaking (that requires a lot of flour), but I dare say it is worth every ounce of effort. Four dense cake layers are flavoured by the warm and earthy spices of ginger. The gingerbread cake layers are then iced with a slightly tart cream cheese frosting that perfectly balances out the rich cake. Thick shards of a tempered pistachio and white chocolate bark surround the cake, which truly makes the cake a display of edible beauty.
This White Christmas Shard Cake is slightly Christmassy without being too in-your-face festive. The moist cake has a deeply spiced undertone that is fragrant with the distinctive taste of gingerbread. The addition of golden syrup in the batter lends a rich, dark and dense moistness to the cake which harmonizes all the heavy spices, creating a deliciously scented cake that represents all that is right about Christmas.
This cake is my welcome offering to the festive season, the strong gingerbread flavour will bring back many nostalgic and seasonal reminiscent memories. White Christmas Shard Cake is surprisingly as easy to prepare as it is to devour. However, cutting off a slice is another story…serve this cake alongside a milky, hot cup of spiced coffee or devour a slice surrounded underneath the golden twinkling lights of the Christmas tree – either way, I promise, you will enjoy it.
- 2 tbsp. ground nutmeg
- 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp. ground cardamom
- 1 tbsp. ground ginger
- 1 tbsp. ground cloves
- 1 tbsp. all-spice
- 1080 grams (38.1 oz.) flour
- 4 tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp. salt
- 6 tbsp. of gingerbread spice mix
- 8 large eggs
- 400 g (14.11 oz.) brown sugar
- 400 g (14.11 oz.) golden syrup
- 500 g (17.64 oz. /4.41 sticks) butter
- 400 ml (14.11 oz.) heavy cream
- 600 ml (21.16 oz.) whole milk
- 400 g (14.11 oz.) white chocolate
- 100 g (3.53 oz.) pistachios, chopped
- 600 g (21.16 oz. / 5.29 sticks) butter, softened
- 800 g (28.22 oz.) icing sugar
- 800 g (28.22 oz.) cream cheese, cold
- Mix spices well in a small bowl. Set aside for when required.
- Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F). Grease and line 2 x 20 cm (8 inch) cake tins and 2 x 18 cm (7 inch) cake tins. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and gingerbread spices. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the golden syrup and beat until smooth.
- Melt the butter over a low heat. Once melted take off the heat, then stir in cream and milk.
- Add the dry ingredients and butter mixture to the egg mixture in four alternating, separate additions.
- Divide the batter evenly between the 4 prepared cake tins. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a cake tested comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Once cooled, level any domed tops.
- Melt the white chocolate over a double boiler.
- Once melted, pour onto sheets of baking paper. Spread out thinly with a spatula and sprinkle crushed pistachios over the chocolate. Whilst warm, score lines with a knife in the chocolate so that it is easier to snap when hardened.
- Leave the chocolate to set to room temperature, transfer to a fridge to further chill until assembly. Once chilled, break the chocolate into shards, the chocolate shards should be hardened, crisp and snappable.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter until pale. Add the icing sugar and continue to beat until pale and fluffy. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth.
- Put the first 20 cm (8 inch) cake layer on a cake stand or plate and spread a thin crumb coat layer of frosting on it with a spatula. Top and repeat the frosting process with the second 20 cm (8 inch) cake layer, third 18 cm (7 inch) cake layer and fourth final 18 cm (7 inch) cake layer – forming a staggered tier. Set the cake in the fridge for 15 minutes to harden the crumb coat.
- Once crumb coat is set, spread a thick layer of frosting over the whole cake to finish. Add the chocolate shards to the cake starting at the top tiers, working your way down to the bottom.
- Set for 15 minutes in the fridge to harden before serving.