- Food & Drink
This week Sister Number 1 attains the gloss and poise that’s only available to people in their 30s. An aura of sophistication and success will soon surround her and she’s on the cusp of becoming very interested in DIY and going to bed at 10.30pm on a Friday night. It’s an exciting and happy time.
To celebrate, she had a wonderful meal at Angels and Gypsies in Camberwell, with hot and cold running tapas and lodsa booze for everyone. The restaurant did her proud, but not as proudly as I did with not one but two birthday cakes, complete with candles and a harmonious round of Happy Birthday To You.
I was so pleased with the results – and I’m so incredibly vain – that I’m sharing the recipes with you. The first cake out of the kitchen was chocolate and, unsurprisingly, it was quickly devoured. Everyone loves a bit of chocolate. Apart from the icing, it’s a real storecupboard cake that’s plainly flavoured with cocoa powder, so it’s not too rich or dense.
The topping is another matter. I’m the worst cake decorator in the world. Icings and decorations generally require elegance and finesse – not qualities I have in spades. Or at all. But I’ve discovered that if you empty the contents of a sweet shop over the top of a cake everyone thinks you’re a cake-decorating marvel. It’s the easiest way to garner lavish praise that I know.
Lemon birthday cake tomorrow.
Chocolate birthday cake
150g room temperature butter plus extra for greasing
150g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
150g self raising flour
25g cocoa powder
110g room temperature butter
125g icing sugar, sifted
3 tsp milk
55g cocoa powder, sifted
75g milk chocolate, broken into squares
150g icing sugar, sifted
20g cocoa powder, sifted
Dolly Mixtures, popping candy, Jelly Babies, Gummi Bears, edible gold dust
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/fan oven 160°C. Grease 2 x 20cm round sandwich cake tins with butter and line the bases with baking parchment.
Make the cake: Beat the butter until it’s soft and creamy and then beat in the caster sugar until pale, fluffy and combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then sift in the flour and cocoa powder. Fold in.
Spoon into the cake tins and level the tops. Bake for 20–25 minutes until risen and springy to the touch. Cool in the tins for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, flat sides down, to cool completely.
Make the buttercream icing: Beat the butter until soft and creamy, then stir in icing sugar, 1/3 at a time with 1 tsp milk with each addition (stops the icing sugar going everywhere). Stir in the cocoa powder.
Place 1 chocolate cake rounded side down on your work surface and spread with the buttercream icing. Top with the other cake, flat side down, and press down gently to sandwich them together.
Make the chocolate icing: Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bowl, just the steam). Remove from the heat and fold in the icing sugar and cocoa powder – you’ll need to work fairly quickly while the chocolate is still warm and melted. You should have a fairly thick icing.
Spread the icing over the top of the cake with a palette knife so it’s thickly covered. Stick Dolly Mixtures (I just used the brown coloured ones), Jelly Babies and Gummi Bears into the icing – it dries quickly, so you need to work fairly fast otherwise it will wrinkle as you stick the sweets in.
Sprinkle over the popping candy and edible gold glitter. Don’t worry if the icing is too dry for the candy to stick. The popping candy will gather in nooks and crannies in-between the sweets and over a few hours it will melt into golden-looking pools (it’ll still pop and crackle when you bite into the cake).
The cake is best served on the day it’s made, but it’ll keep for a few days in an airtight container.