For the cakes:
110g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
110g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
280ml boiling water
3 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
280g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
340g light brown soft sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 medium free-range eggs, lightly beaten
For the ganache:
225g unsalted butter
285g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
2 tbsp golden syrup
240ml double cream
2 punnets strawberries
4 tsp apricot jam
Icing sugar, for dusting
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C. Grease and line three loose-based 20cm cake tins. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bowl), then set aside to cool slightly. In a medium bowl or measuring jug, whisk together the boiling water and cocoa until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk then set aside.
Using an electric mixer or hand whisk, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes, though I left my KitchenAid happily beating away for ten). Add the eggs a little at a time, beating until fully combined.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Turn the mixer speed to slow and pour in the cooled melted chocolate. Once fully combined, alternately add a little of the flour and buttermilk mixtures, starting and finishing with the flour. Divide between the three prepared tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until springy to the touch. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Before making the icing, get the cream out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature.
For the ganache, melt the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, as before. Once melted, stir to combine and remove from the heat. Allow to cool to room temperature, and when it is the same temperature as the double cream, slowly stir the cream into the cooled chocolate (they must be the same temperature, roughly, or the mixture may seize and turn lumpy). Leave for 10-15 minutes until it has thickened enough to spread on the cake.
Place the first sponge on the plate you want to serve the cake on, and spread with just under a third of the ganache. Place the second sponge on top, then repeat. Smother the rest of the ganache over the cake, smoothing it with a palette knife.
Cut the leafy end off the strawberries so they’ll stand upright. Arrange on top of the cake in the ganache, then leave the ganache to set fully (I left mine overnight, but a couple of hours should do the trick). When set, melt the apricot jam in a small ramekin in the microwave, then brush over the strawberries to glaze. Decorate with mint leaves and dust with icing sugar.