Preheat oven to 150 (gas mark 2).
You will need:
3 bags of chocolate sponge mix (400g each)
12 tbsp Buttermilk (I needed 2 cartons of St Ivel Buttermilk)
Red food colouring
Black food colouring
1-2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tub vanilla flavoured buttercream icing
500g ready fondant icing
Icing sugar to dust
Grease and line 3 cake tins.
Mix 2 eggs in a jug with 4 tbsp buttermilk, 6 tbsp milk and 1 tsp red food colouring. Pour into a bowl with the chocolate sponge mix and beat with an electric mixer for 1 minute.
The mixture should be this lovely colour halfway between pink and chocolate. If your mix feels too thick, you could add a little more milk.
Bake on the top shelf of your oven for 30 minutes at 150 (gas mark 2).
For the next layer make up the same quantities of egg, buttermilk and milk, but this time use 3/4 tsp black food colouring instead of red.
Add 1 or 2 tbsp cocoa powder to the cake mix before mixing for a darker chocolate sponge.
Make up one last layer, either velvety red or dark chocolate.
Be sure to skewer the cakes as they come out of the oven. 150 is a low heat for a sponge, but 30 minutes was perfect timing in our oven and the sponge was beautifully moist.
Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes before popping it out of the tin. Be careful not to burn your hands!
Turn out onto a cooling rack and use a pallet knife to remove the base of the tin from the cake.
Place an upside down cooling rack onto the cake, press the two racks together and turn over so that you can slice the rounded top side off with a bread knife.
Having flat cakes makes sandwiching them together so much easier (especially when working with 3+ layers).
Preferably use a cake board or flat plate to piece your cake together. Here I'm using the base of a cake storer thingy, which isn't ideal for presentation or helpful while icing/decorating. Use what you have ^_^
Wait until all of your cake layers are completely cool and then spread on the butter icing. Work layer by layer.
Once tub of Betty Crocker's icing was just enough to cover my cake. The icing looks a bit odd because there are crumbs all mixed in from slicing the cake flat, but this isn't at all noticeable after the next step...
... Which is to cover the cake in fondant icing.Rolling was a messy process, but be prepared and patient and you should get a good result.
My tips are:
1) Have plenty of icing sugar to dust the surface and rolling pin, this prevents the icing from sticking.
2) Roll outward, rotate often.
3) Be 100% sure you have rolled the icing big enough to cover your cake before you pick it up.
4) Use a pallet knife to free the icing from your surface before picking it up.
5) Transfer onto your cake with a rolling pin, be careful but work quickly.
After covering the cake with fondant icing, trim the excess at the bottom with a knife. If you have any odd seems, creases or bumps, work them out with your hands or use a pallet knife dipped in a mug of hot water.
I wish I had taken more photos of decorating my cake for you, but it was a very sticky process.
I used a Silverspoon designer icing tube for the red edging and a heart shaped cookie cutter for the icing hearts. I coloured the icing for the hearts with food dye, just add a couple of drops at a time.
It's a really simple design but I think the symmetry works.
As you can see my decorating skills aren't perfect, but if you do your best that's what matters. It's still going to taste great!
Here is my cake all finished and cleaned up.
The most beautiful part is definitely the next step...
(You can see my buttercream ran, I sandwiched the layers before they were cool enough. Also these final pictures didn't do my red/dark layers justice, but trust me, it's worth it ^_^)