Anniversary chocolate-buttermilk layer cake with toffee and toasted almonds

  • For the cake
  • 200g sugar
  • 200g dark brown sugar
  • 220g softened unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 40g pureed red ripe peeled tomatoes (or tinned chopped tomatoes)
  • 86g plus 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 350g fine flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 500ml buttermilk
  • For the filling
  • 500ml double cream
  • 350g dark chocolate, chopped
  • For the icing
  • 60g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp buttermilk, plus more if needed
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Icing sugar
  • For the assembly
  • 150g sliced almonds, toasted
  • 100g toffee pieces
  • Chocolate curls, for garnish
For the cake:
1) Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Grease and flour 3 (18-cm) cake tins. Cut greaseproof paper circles to fit the bottoms of the tins and fit into the bottom of each.

2) In a free standing mixer, add both sugars and butter and beat until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs, vanilla and tomatoes. In a separate large bowl, combine the cocoa, flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder.

3) Beat the cocoa mixture into the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, in 3 additions. Pour into the prepared tins. Bake the cakes for 32 to 35 minutes, or until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the tops spring back at the touch. Cool the cakes for 15 minutes. Carefully remove from the tins and cool completely on racks.

For the ganache filling:
1) In a large saucepan, heat 250ml of the cream to boiling. Stir in the chocolate. Cover and leave to sit for 5 minutes then whisk until smooth. Cool the ganache completely.

2) In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining 250ml of cream until soft peaks form. Stir in the ganache mixtue, stirring gently so as to not deflate the cream. Refrigerate until assembly time.

For the icing:
1) Combine the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Beat until fluffy.

2) Stir in the buttermilk, salt, vanilla and lemon juice. Beat in enough icing sugar in 60g increments until light and fluffy, adding more buttermilk if necessary.

To assemble the cake:
1) Trim the tops of the cake with a serrated knife so that they are perfectly even and flat.

2) Place 1 cake layer on a cake platter and spread with half the ganache filling, not quite to the edges. Sprinkle with 50g almonds and 30g of toffee pieces. Repeat with the next layer. Top with the final cake layer.

3) Cover the top and outside of the cake with the cream cheese frosting. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the remaining toffee and almonds, and garnish with chocolate curls. Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to 24 hours before serving.

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