Thursday, 26 July 2012

"WHAT have you done to my kitchen?!"

Is invariably the response I get from Mum when, once a year, I embark on the quest that is Jenny's Birthday Cake. I've been making people birthday cakes for years but until a while ago I'd never attempted anything really fancy - but then it was Jenny's 18th (and she's really awesome), so effort was made. This was the result:

There's a story behind the cow.
It went down brilliantly and was really yummy, and I happily considered it my best baking achievement. But then this year I had to try and beat it. ERK. So, I altered my recipe for chocolate and raspberry cupcakes that everyone always loves, and this is what happened.

The cupcake recipe:
- 4oz/100g softened butter or margerine
- 4oz/100g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 5oz/125g self raising flour (can be gluten-free if you need it)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1oz/25g cocoa powder
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 4oz/100g fresh or frozen raspberries
- 2oz/50g chopped up chocolate

I altered this a bit to get the amount I wanted - I had two 9" springform tins and actually fiddled the recipe to a 3 egg/125g version, but then for some reason I doubled that... so then when the cake was put together it turned out MASSIVE. Miscalculation of amounts there... BUT it was still awesome. And I can guarantee that having more of it was no bad thing!
To successfully make a normal size cake, use 125g of butter + sugar; 3 eggs; 150g flour; 1/2 tsp baking powder; 30g cocoa powder; 1 tsp vanilla; 125g raspberries; 75g chocolate.

1. Begin by pre-heating the oven to 180°C, and greasing your cake tins. Something I've discovered recently is that if you also dust the tins with flour it helps with the non-sticking, which is particularly useful with things like bread.
2. Beat together the butter and sugar A LOT until you think it looks done, then keep going for another couple of minutes. The more air you get into this the better the cake will be - my Grandma swore by it.
3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract until you have a silky smooth batter.
4. Add the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and fold in with a metal spoon. I'm not sure why you have to use a metal spoon but everyone always says so... if I find out I'll blog it.
5. Add the chocolate and the raspberries and mix carefully - you don't want to destroy the raspberries too much.
6. Spoon the mixture into the tins, using a spatula to get it all out the bowl, and bake for about 30 minutes (20-25 if you're doing the cupcakes). Once a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean, remove them from the tins and put them on a wire rack to cool.

Additional things you will now need:
- MORE raspberries. Approximately a small punnet. Judge from the picture below.
- raspberry jam
- chocolate butter icing (whisk together some butter and icing sugar until it looks like butter icing, then add some cocoa powder to make it chocolatey)
- royal icing
- some form of decoration: I used sugarpaste and writing icing

7. Spread a layer of raspberry jam onto one of the sponges - whichever you want to be the bottom one. I use whichever is slightly flatter for the top, as it makes icing etc easier.
8. Add a layer of raspberries. Feel indulgent and also healthy because it's fruit.
9. Cover with buttercream. Feel even more indulgent.
10. PUT THE OTHER SPONGE ON TOP. I find this very excitng. My sister says I need to get out more.
11. Warm up about a tablespoon more of raspberry jam (but don't put the metal spoon in the microwave, obv), and brush the entire cake with it. There doesn't need to be loads, but this helps the royal icing to stick, and tastes nice to boot.
12. Using some icing sugar to prevent sticking, roll out your royal icing. Use the rolling pin to lift it, and place over the cake. Smooth out as best you can, then cut around the bottom with a sharp knife. THEN make a ball out of some of the left-over icing and use that to make the icing on the cake super smooth.
13. Decorate. I used black sugar paste and bought a little craft knife, and made the first bit of the music score for 'happy birthday', because Jenny is a big music person and I thought it was cool. Stick down using vodka (!), or edible glue if you think you'll use it enough for it to be worth the money. I then did a big '19' because I realised there was no way I could do the whole song.
You haven't lived until you've made a 3.5cm treble clef out of sugar paste.

14. When you're happy with the decoration, use a pin to attach a ribbon around the bottom. This isn't strictly necessary, but as well as looking pretty it hides any icing mistakes, so win-win.
15. Present to impressed friend and enjoy getting to eat it. VOILA.

And for the record, the kitchen wasn't that bad. Not really. I tidied up...

Sorry Mum.


  1. holy crow that is the most amazing cake I've ever seen in my life.

    If I were the marrying type, that would be my wedding cake of choice, but I'll simply have to find another occasion to make it.

  2. Oh wow, thank you!! High praise indeed :D
    Occasions... a 'happy summer holidays' cake? Who needs a proper reason!