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The Gourmet Traveller 50th birthday cake: Ginger whiskey cake with burnt white chocolate ganache

Watch the making of the Gourmet Traveller 50th birthday cover cake.

By Emma Knowles
  • 1 hr preparation
  • 4 hrs 30 mins cooking plus cooling
  • Serves 14 - 16
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This multi-layered crowd-pleaser is full of warm spice, while the burnt white chocolate cream filling adds rich caramel-y goodness to proceedings. We've added gold flecked white chocolate shards for a bit of glam, as well as praline shards for texture and crunch. This beauty feeds a crowd, but you could easily halve the recipe to feed fewer.


Ginger whiskey cake
  • 300 gm softened butter
  • 220 gm brown sugar
  • 220 gm raw caster sugar
  • 220 gm golden syrup
  • 8 eggs
  • 800 gm plain flour
  • 5 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 240 ml milk
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2½ tsp bi-carbonate of soda
  • 500 gm mascarpone
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped seeds
  • 500 ml thickened cream
  • 1 tbsp whiskey, plus extra for brushing (optional)
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
Burnt white chocolate cream
  • 700 gm white chocolate, broken into even-sized pieces, about 2cm square
  • 550 ml thickened cream
Whiskey caramel
  • 330 gm caster sugar
  • 30 ml whiskey
To serve
  • Almond praline and white chocolate shards (optional)


  • 1
    For burnt white chocolate cream, preheat oven to 120C. Spread chocolate on an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake, stirring occasionally until dark caramel in colour (2½-3 hours; chocolate will seize and then change colour as it caramelises). Bring cream to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, remove from heat, add burnt chocolate, process with a hand-held blender until smooth. Transfer to a container and refrigerate overnight, then when ready to assemble cake, transfer to a piping bag (no nozzle). Burnt white chocolate cream will keep for up to 1 week.
  • 2
    Preheat oven to 180C and butter and base line two 22cm-diameter cake tins. Beat butter, caster sugar and brown sugar in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (4-5 minutes), scrape down sides of bowl, then beat in golden syrup. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl and beating well between additions. Sieve over flour, spices and bi-carbonate of soda, add ½ tsp salt and beat to combine. Combine milk and vinegar in a jug, then beat into batter. Divide evenly among prepared tins and bake until risen and centres spring back when lightly pressed (1-1¼ hours). Cool in tins for 15 minutes, then cool completely on wire racks. Cakes can be made a day ahead and stored in airtight containers.
  • 3
    For whiskey caramel, stir sugar and 80ml water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, bring to the boil, brush down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush then cook, swirling pan occasionally once caramel starts to form around the edges, until dark caramel (4-5 minutes) Remove from heat, carefully add 80ml water (hot caramel will spit), then stir in whiskey and refrigerate until cooled.
  • 4
    Whisk mascarpone, vanilla and half the cream to firm peaks, set aside. Whisk whiskey, sugar and remaining cream to soft peaks and set aside.
  • 5
    To assemble, trim tops of cakes flush and halve each horizontally. Drizzle cut surfaces with a little whiskey. Place the base of a cake on a plate or cake rack. Pipe over one-third of the burnt chocolate cream, making sure the it goes right to the edges, then spread over a layer of mascarpone mixture, about 1cm thick, leaving a 1cm border. Place another cake on top, and repeat layering, using the cake tops as the middle layers and finishing with the remaining cake base, bottom-side up. Top with whipped cream, forming large swirls and peaks, top with praline and shards of white chocolate and serve drizzled with whiskey sauce.
  • undefined: Emma Knowles