GBBO’s Iain Watters makes a chocolate chestnut orange Christmas cake

Daniel Wren

Unsurprisingly new research (from reveals that almost a quarter of us loathe traditional Christmas puddings and nearly one in five will only tentatively eat it or smother it in brandy sauce or cream.

To help remedy this situation, and bring a bit of festive cheer back to the great Christmas pud, The Great British Bake Off’s Iain Watters shows us how to make this delicious dessert full of seasonal flavour.


Chocolate torte

125g soft, stoned prunes
75g butter
125g dark chocolate – around 60% cocoa or more
200g puree chestnuts
100ml double cream
Juice and zest of 1 orange
3 large eggs, separated
125g caster sugar

Chocolate cake

3 large eggs
250g butter
250g caster sugar
250g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
2 ½ tsp baking powder
Juice and zest of 1 orange
Chocolate water ganache
250g chocolate 60%
125ml boiling water

Italian Meringue

2 egg whites
¼ tsp cream of tartar
110g caster sugar
50ml water


Cocoa for dusting
Candied chestnuts
Flaked almonds


For the torte, prepare a 20cm spring form tin with non-sticking baking paper and preheat the oven to 170C.
Take the prune and very finely chop and mash or blend it in a food processor. Set aside.
In a bain-marie or double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter together.
While the chocolate is melting, whisk the chestnut puree and double cream together until you have smooth texture and set aside.
Next separate the eggs.
Cream the caster sugar and egg yolks until they become thick and glossy.
Now whisk the whites into soft peaks and set aside.
So you should now have five different bowls of ingredients to combine. Mix together the eggs and sugar with the chestnut puree, followed by the prunes and then the chocolate mixture. Lightly whisk until well combined.
Finely grate the zest of the orange into the mixture, followed by the juice.
Time to combine the egg whites. First put one big dollop of the whites into the mixture to loosen it up. Then, with the remaining whites in two halves, gently fold in the remaining white until just combined and no more. Don’t over mix at this stage, as you don’t want to knock out too much air.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 25–30 mins. The mix should be still slightly wobbly in the middle and a few cracks will have appeared.
Allow to cool and remove from the tin. Chill for a few hours in the fridge.
While the torte is chilling, it’s time to make the chocolate cake. Prepare two 20cm spring form or normal tins with non-stick baking paper.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, using a hand mixer if possible.
Next sieve the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a separate bowl.
Now add all the eggs into the sugar mixture, along with the sieved dry ingredients, and beat together until well combined.
Finely grate the zest of the orange into the mixture followed by the juice and mix.
Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and bake at 170C for 20 mins
Remove the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Once the cakes half cooled and the torte has chilled, its time to stack them. First place one sponge on top of the torte and flip it over so the sponge is now on the bottom, the torte is quite delicate so this mean is less change of breaking up, now place the second sponge on top of the torte. The torte should now be in the filling of a sponge sandwich
Time for the ganache, this might sound strange but the ganache is made with water and chocolate not cream.
So in a bain-marie or double boiler melt the chocolate
While the chocolate is melting boil 125ml of water.
Once melted take the bowl off the heat and pour in about a table spoon of the water in the chocolate, and whisk together it will look like its separating but keep whisking it will come together, then add the remaining water and keep whisking.
The ganache will be a bit runny but will thicken up as it cools, while the ganache is still workable, with a palette knife cover the whole cake/torte in the ganache.
Right time for the meringue topping. In a saucepan stir the sugar and water together over a medium heat. Dip a pastry brush in water and brush any bits of sugar from the sides of the pan down into the syrup to melt, otherwise it will turn the sugar syrup grainy. When all of the sugar is dissolved, bring it to a fast boil until it reaches 120C/250F.
While the syrup is reaching temperature, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar into soft peaks.
As soon as the syrup reaches the correct temperature, pour it onto the egg whites in a thin, steady stream as you whisk. Be careful not to pour the hot syrup directly onto the beaters, as it may stick to them or splash back at you.
When all the syrup has been mixed, continue to whisk the meringue until it has cooled. It should be shiny and stiff and be tepid temperate.
Transfer to a piping bag, and with a large nozzle pipe small peaks to the top of the cake. Starting around the outside, work your way into the middle.
Dust your serving plate with cocoa and transfer the cake to the plate. finish the top of the cake with finely chopped candied chestnuts and flaked almonds.
The cake will keep for 3 days in the fridge so can be made in advance for Christmas day.

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About Daniel Wren

Vada Magazine staff writer. Interested in travel, news, politics and dating.