Serve: 8-12 – Prep time: 40 mins plus time for cake to cool – Cook time: 25 mins
Ingredients: 2 eggs; 225g (7oz) caster sugar; 1 ¼ tsp salt; 250ml (8 fl oz) sunflower oil; 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract; 150ml (4 ½ fl oz) buttermilk; 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda; 2 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar; 225g (7 oz) plain flour; 1 ½ tblsp cocoa powder; ¾ tsp red food colouring paste
For the frosting: 250ml (8 fl oz) whipping cream, very cold; 175g (6oz) mascarpone; 175g (6oz) cream cheese; 85g (3oz) icing sugar, sifted; 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Heat the oven to 170oC (gas mark 3). Grease a 20cm (8 in) round cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper. Place the eggs, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. While whisking, add the oil in a steady stream until fully combined and the mixture thickens slightly. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- Place the buttermilk, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in a smaller, separate bowl. The mixture should bubble quite actively and then fade. In another bowl, combine the flour and cocoa powder and sift twice. Add one third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated. Add half the buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the buttermilk. Finally, add the last third of the flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the food colouring last and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
- Bake in the hot oven for 28-35 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached, and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly rather than sink. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes if necessary.
- To make the cream cheese frosting, whisk the whipping cream to stiff peaks. Set aside. Put the mascarpone, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract in another bowl and beat until well combined.
- Add one third of the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and beat until combined. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Frosting must always be refrigerated, due to the fragility of whipped cream.
- Cut the cake horizontally into 3 equal layers. Spread a little of the cream cheese frosting over one layer of cake and top with another layer. Spread a little more frosting over the second layer and top with the final layer. Spread the remaining frosting all over the cake using a spatula.