I was saying a day or two ago, I often surprise myself at how difficult cake decorating is.
It's not that I am surprised that it's hard, I am surprised that I keep fooling myself into thinking "that looks simple". In the cold light of day, I know full well that people spend years training and practising cake decoration, but for seem reason that part of my brain shuts down when I think of a cake decoration that looks simple to replicate (see my mothers day cake for goal vs reality!).
This occasion was no different. It was my wife's birthday and needed to make a cake. and I thought a sponge with chocolate icing, but covered completely with chocolate chips in a densely covered pebbledash type effect (at least that's the best way I can describe it!)
I used the same chocolate-cream cheese-buttercream icing as in last year's cake, but this time I mixed up my sponge approach, moving away from my default food processor method.
The food processor method basically involves throwing all the ingredients into a food processor (just a normal processor using a blade attachment), and processing until smoothe, dropping consistency. However, having read a bit about flour and how gluten is formed (adding moisture and stirring/beating to form gluten bonds, the more beating the more the proteins are able to move and form more bonds - creating a big gluten network), I wanted to take a more traditional approach to the cake - e.g. beat the ingredients up until the addition of the flour and then fold that in. Replacing a small (~10%) amount of the flour for a gluten free alternative (in this case, corn flour) also helps avoid the build up of too much gluten (which would prevent rising, and nice airy sponge).
Switching to the traditional approach, on the basis of a single experiment compared to numerous sponges previously baked, appeared to be a success - the cake definitely rose more than usual.