Mississippi mud cake... AKA death by chocolate cake!

Few days ago there was a big celebration at my house. My older Baby Girl's birthday. She's 5 years old now "Mummy, I'm a big girl now!". Yes, she is ;) As she was becoming a big girl, I decided to ask her what kind of cake she wants for her birthday, rather than just making one, one that she might not be happy with. The answer I got - BIG cake, chocolate one, with lots and lots of chocolate. Hmm... at least she knows what she wants - chocolate!
After having a good look through my numerous cookbooks, and taking into consideration that I am trying to bake my way through one of the Hummingbird Bakery cookbooks, decision was made. Mississippi mud cake it is. Judging by the name I knew straight away that it will be a proper chocolate cake, very sweet and very chocolaty. After reading a recipe I also found out that it's a cake very rich with icing - another advantage! :)

OK, a confession now - I know I baked a lot of different cakes, and I really mean a lot, but... I have never, ever, never ever in my life before, baked and assembled a proper, few layers, birthday cake... What a better occasion for it than my Little Girl's birthday...? At least she won't judge me and my cake too harsh (there was me hoping!!! ;) ). Had to buy few sandwich baking tins, as I have never baked anything like that before, I simply didn't even have proper tins! Little daunted by the task I got working...

chocolate cake

I picked up a perfect time for it - when the both girls were already sleeping. First, I wanted to be it a proper surprise for her. Secondly, I didn't really want the Girls to help me on this occasion, as I didn't know if I won't make a mess out of it myself :P even without their usual "helping hand"...
My Kenwood standing mixer was a blessing in the whole task! I have no idea how I would make and create this cake without it!!! Baked the three sponges late in the evening and simply left them to cool completely overnight. Next day morning - made the frosting and then the hardest part: assembling the whole thing... I actually thought it will be harder. Once I cut around the edges of the sponges, to make them as even as possible, I started building the cake and frosting it all over. As it was "my first time" I didn't go for anything "fancy" or too complicated when it comes to decorating the cake - simple decorating it with my palette knife and some colorful sprinkles - just what a 5 years old girls like the most, sprinkles! :) Then it went into the fridge, so it had a chance to "set" a bit before cutting and devouring it!

Result... a rich, VERY rich chocolate cake, with a frosting way better than chocolate Philadelphia spread! (Another little confession to make - I was left with some frosting, after the cake ended up in the fridge... a frosting, that was transferred into a simple, small food container and hidden inside the fridge... a frosting, that ended up then on a croissants, a dinner roll, my fingers... Hmm, a good frosting indeed!). Mississippi mud cake, or as it's now known in my house: "death by chocolate cake" ;) is delicious, perfect celebration cake that will feed a crowd! You really can't eat too much, and preferably - have some strong coffee as you do it!

How to make it...
For the sponge:
- 250 g unsalted butter, softened
- 600 g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 470 g plain flour
- 140 g cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 375 ml buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 375 ml boiling water
For the frosting:
- 800 g icing sugar, sifted
- 120 g cocoa powder, sifted
- 150 g unsalted butter, cubed
- 600 g full-fat cream cheese (such as Philadelphia)

You'll need three 20 cm (8 in) diameter sandwich baking tins.

Preheat the oven to 170 C and line the cake tins with baking parchment. First make the sponge. In a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment or using a hand-held electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together. Mix the buttermilk and vanilla extract in a jug. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Mix well on a medium speed. Slowly add the boiling water, mixing until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the three prepared cake tins. Bake for approximately 35–45 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly touched. Remove from the tins and allow the sponges to cool completely before frosting.

Using the freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment or the hand-held electric whisk, gradually mix the icing sugar, cocoa powder and butter together on a low speed until fully combined, sandy in texture and there are no large lumps of butter. Add a little cream cheese to loosen the mixture and beat until smooth, then add the remaining cream cheese and mix on a slow speed until incorporated. Turn the speed to high and beat the frosting until light and fluffy. Once the sponge layers feel cool to the touch you can assemble the cake.
Place the first layer on a plate or cake card and top with 3–4 tablespoons of frosting. Smooth out the frosting using a palette knife, adding a little more if needed. Sandwich the second layer on top, then add more frosting, followed by the third layer of cake. Next frost the sides and top of the cake, covering it completely so that no sponge is showing. Finally, decorate the cake to your liking.