pistachio tonka raspberry chocolate ganache birthday cake

It’s Sous Chef’s tenth birthday… a whole decade since Sous Chef was the tiny idea I had whilst cooking in a restaurant, seeing the incredible ingredients that had previously only been available to chefs. I enthused so much about those and all the incredible world ingredients we couldn’t find to cook with at home… that my husband Nick left his job and joined me to work on it too.

It feels like just seconds since we were a true start-up. Yet ten years is a long time. Nick and I have renovated a house and had two children (the second now starting in primary school); I’ve been on TV and met my food heroes (a good number who are now friends). The business has won awards, we’ve delivered parcels of joy to several hundred thousand people, and I get to work every day with a brilliant team. We’ve both learned so much.

If you’d like to learn more about what it’s been like starting a business and working with my husband for the last ten years, I’ve shared some thoughts on start-up life. Otherwise read on to make the most extraordinary cake ever… 

Thank you for helping us get here. Happy cooking!

Nicola

CEO & Co-Founder


Nick and Nicola

The ultimate birthday cake

We knew Sous Chef’s tenth birthday cake had to be something special, and I would need to ask someone extraordinary to create it. I called my great friend Victoria Glass (check out her amazing recipes here!) This is her showstopper.

The cake includes at least ten of our most popular ingredients from the last ten years: chocolate couvertures, bright green pistachios, feuilletine, gold leaf, gorgeous dried flowers, tonka beans, raspberry powder, vanilla paste, Fabbri amarena cherries, hazelnut paste, and more... 

This cake isn't necessarily something to recreate in one go... perhaps one or two layers is a good weekend project. 

The base layer is green pistachio and vanilla sponge (made with ground green pistachios and vanilla paste). The pistachio layer is topped with a pistachio praline-feuilletine, then a layer of Amarena cherries in syrup, topped with a pistachio filling made with pistachio cream. The next layer is a ruby chocolate cake. That is followed by a layer of candied wild strawberries, topped with a Piedmont hazelnut paste and Valrhona Dulcey chocolate filling. The final layer is a white chocolate, hazelnut and tonka bean cake. And to decorate, the towering layer-cake is covered in dark chocolate ganache with gold leaf, chocolate splatters, green slivered pistachios, and edible dried flowers.

It’s not something I’d necessarily suggest that you cook in one go – it’s a challenge, and somewhat extravagant. Yet choosing one or two layers (definitely pistachio!), and one of the fillings would be perfect for a weekend celebration. We loved it most fresh from the fridge.

About Victoria

I met her just as we were starting Sous Chef, and – at the time – she was making wedding cakes. 

I count myself extremely lucky to have a friend who takes both food and hosting quite so seriously!

Within months of us meeting, she invited me to her house for a Twelve Days of Christmas dinner; twelve plated courses, all tightly themed around the Christmas song. I will never forget the attention to detail. The eighth course, eight maids a milking, was a panna cotta, made with eight different milks. And the eleventh was a Maris Piper potato cake, with a chocolate pipe, and pipe-tobacco poached raspberries. Yes, that's Eleven Pipers Piping.

I count myself extremely lucky to have a friend who takes both food and hosting quite so seriously. Since then, Victoria has written brilliant cookbooks, as well as delicious recipes for us on the website. Everything she creates is truly delicious.


The Different Cake Components

  • Pistachio cake 
  • Hazelnut, brown sugar and tonka bean joconde
  • Ruby chocolate cake
  • Pistachio and white chocolate feuilletine
  • Pistachio filling
  • Hazelnut and dulcey filling
  • Chocolate ganache

the different cake layers


For the base pistachio cake layer recipe

  • 250g soft, unsalted butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 4 medium eggs, beaten
  • 200g pistachio flour
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • A generous pinch of salt

 Pistachio base layer method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and grease and base-line two 8-inch sandwich tins (round shallow cake tins)
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the vanilla bean paste, followed by the eggs, a little at a time, whisking thoroughly between each addition.
  4. Fold in the ground pistachios, flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. Pour the cake mixture into your prepared tins, level the tops and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  6. Leave the cakes to cool in its tin atop a wire cooling rack. Once cool turn out the cake.
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024

For the hazelnut, brown butter and tonka bean joconde layer recipe

  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 5 egg whites
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 175g ground hazelnuts
  • 50g plain flour
  • 2 finely ground tonka beans
  • Salt

Hazelnut, brown butter and tonka bean method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and grease and base-line two 8-inch sandwich tins with baking parchment.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and allow to brown until rich amber coloured and nutty smelling. Strain through a muslin-lined sieve into a bowl and leave to cool.
  3. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, but not dry, peaks form.
  4. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar to make a thick, glossy meringue. Set aside.
  5. Put the whole eggs and egg yolks a separate bowl and sift over the icing sugar. Using the same beaters as the meringue – there’s no need to wash them - whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture is thick and pale.
  6. Add the ground hazelnuts and continue to whisk for a few minutes, before whisking in the cooled, brown butter. Sift over the flour and add the ground tonka beans, then mix thoroughly.
  7. Stir in a third of the meringue to the nut mixture to slacken the batter. Fold in the remaining meringue, being careful not to knock the air out of the batter.
  8. Pour the batter into your prepared tins and gently level with a palette knife. Bake in your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the joconde is no longer sticky to the touch. Leave to cakes to cool on top of a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out.
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024

 For the ruby chocolate cake layer recipe

  • 100g ruby chocolate
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • A pinch of salt
  • 100g soft, unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • A few drops of pink food colouring (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 130g self-raising flour
  • 85ml soured cream
  • ½ tsp baking powder

Ruby chocolate cake method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and grease and base-line an 8-inch sandwich tin (round shallow cake tin)
    Gently melt the ruby chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a plan of barely simmering water, then leave to cool.
  2. In the meantime, whisk the egg whites and salt together in a large mixing bowl until they form soft peaks.
  3. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then whisk the egg yolks in, one at a time. Whisk in the cooled melted chocolate, pink food colouring, if using, and vanilla.
  4. Sift over half the flour and whisk in. Then mix in the soured cream. Sift over the remaining flour and baking powder and whisk to combine.
  5. Tip in the beaten egg whites and fold in with a large metal spoon, being careful not to beat the air out of the mixture.
  6. Scrape the cake mixture into your prepared tin, level the top and bake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  7. Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes on top of a wire cooling rack, before turning the cake out on to the rack and leaving to cool completely.
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024

For the pistachio and white chocolate feuilletine layer recipe


Feuilletine method

  1. Have a thin, 8-inch cake board/hardboard ready, with your pistachio cakes to hand.
  2. Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over barely simmering water.
  3. Spread about a teaspoon’s worth of melted chocolate onto the centre of the cake board, then place one pistachio cake on top. Make sure the cake is centred on the board before gently pressing the cake down to attach and set. Attach a collar of thickened 16cm food grade acetate around the cake and secure with sticky tape on the outside of the collar.
  4. Now make the white chocolate and pistachio feuilletine: add the pistachio puree to the remaining melted chocolate and stir to combine, then mix in the feuilletine.
  5. Spread the feuilletine mixture in an even layer on top of the pistachio cake up to the edges of the acetate collar. Top the feuilletine with the second pistachio cake and press to make level.
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024

For the pistachio filling


  Pistachio filling method

  1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water, then set aside to cool.
  2. Whisk the butter and cooled chocolate together. Add the pistachio cream and whisk to combine.
  3. Arrange the drained cherries (240g) on top of the pistachio cake. Dollop the pistachio filling on top and use a palette knife to level the top smooth.
  4. Top the pistachio filling with the ruby chocolate cake.
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024

For the hazelnut and dulcey chocolate filling


Hazelnut and dulcey chocolate filling method

  1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water. Leave to cool.
  2. Whisk the butter until soft and creamy and whisk in the cooled chocolate and hazelnut paste.
  3. Place a sieve over the bowl and sift half the icing sugar over the mixture. Whisk to combine and then repeat with the remaining icing sugar. Whisk until you have a smooth buttercream filling, then whisk in the vanilla.
  4. Spread an even layer of dulcey and hazelnut buttercream on top of the ruby cake
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024

  How to Assemble the Cake

  1. Place one of the hazelnut joconde cakes on top and arrange an even layer of the drained candied wild strawberries on top.
  2. Spread over more dulcey and hazelnut buttercream so the strawberries are completely covered and top with the second hazelnut joconde cake.
  3. Press gently to ensure the cake is level and then transfer to the fridge to chill.
  4. Once firm and set, carefully remove the collar and fill in any gaps with the dulcey and hazelnut buttercream, then spread a thin layer of the buttercream over the whole cake. Smooth carefully and transfer back to the fridge to harden.
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024

Cake decorated


Chocolate ganache


How to Decorate the Cake

  1. Heat the cream in a saucepan. Put the chocolate in a magimix and blitz to a rubble. You can simply place the chocolate drops in a bowl, but there is a greater risk of your ganache splitting. Once the cream has scalded, leave to cool for 1 minute before pouring over your chocolate. Pulse in the magimix until you have a thick, glossy ganache. If pouring over a bowl of chocolate drops, leave to stand for 1 minute before whisking to a thick, glossy ganache. Leave to cool to room temperature, but do not leave it long enough to set.
  2. Once the ganache is cold and spreadable, smooth it over the whole cake with a palette knife. Once fully covered, place the cake on a turntable and use an extra tall cake scraper to carefully drag round the edges for a neat and smooth result. Finish the top with a small cranked/angled palette knife.
  3. Spread a little ganache in the centre of a 10-inch cake drum and carefully lift the cake and place it on top.
  4. Before the ganache sets, find your inner Jackson Pollock and flick and splash the two melted chocolates with forks. Throw and scatter the pistachios and flowers. Finally, attach the gold leaf. Close any windows to prevent a breeze. Using a small, clean and food-safe paintbrush, carefully lift pieces of the gold leaf and gently attach to the ganache. Do not press it down firmly, simply lightly tap to attach.
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024


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2 comments

  • Hi Barbara! So glad to hear you are enjoying the Bolsts range – it is one of our favourites too! Please share any of your favourite recipes with us, we love seeing how our customers cook with all our amazing ingredients. Thank you!

    Edie on

  • Hi Edie thank you for your message.I am so happy to be able to purchase Bolsts Hot Curry paste from your site. My family & I cannot find it amazing. We would also purchase Bolsts Hot Brinjal pickle as we cannot find it anywhere.I have several family members who crave for the taste of it. Nothing tastes as good as these items.

    Mrs Barbara Williams on

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