Tag Archives: birthday cake

My Absolute Favourite Recipe for Carrot Cake

John’s favourite cake is carrot cake and I think it might be mine too – so moist and heavenly; a gentle, warming spice flavouring the sponge, contrasting beautifully with the sweet frosting – sheer delight!

One of our friends made the Hummingbird Bakery version of this delicious treat for John’s 60th birthday a wee while ago (!) so this year, I finally replicated it for him and it was simply gorgeous – very difficult not to dive into and demolish the whole lot in one sitting! Just two weeks later, I was asked by a lovely friend to make it again to celebrate her son’s 40th, which is the picture that you have here.

The recipe below is for the original cake (rather than the 40th birthday version); however, it’s been Cindy-tweaked. The original splits the mixture between three 20-cm cake tins but I only have two. I however, made more frosting to accommodate the 4 tiers made from the two sponges and that’s what you’ve got here. Try it once and you’ll be a devotee!

 What you need…

2 x deep, 20cm cake tins, liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

300g soft light brown sugar

3 large, happy eggs

300ml rapeseed oil

300g plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

300g carrots, grated

100g shelled walnuts, chopped

A handful of walnut halves, to decorate

for the cream cheese frosting

750g icing sugar, sifted

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature

310g cream cheese, cold

Carrot Cake w

What to do…

First, to the cake mixture! Preheat the oven to 170˚c / 325˚f / gas 3.

If you have a stand mixer, use it to combine the sugar, eggs and oil together (an electric handheld mix would also do the job).

Gradually add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract.

Take the bowl from the mixer and stir in the chopped walnuts and grated carrots by hand until they are evenly distributed.

Pour the mixture into your cake tins and pop into the oven, for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack.

Next to the frosting! Use an electric handheld whisk to beat the icing sugar and butter together. Plop in all of the cream cheese and beat until completely smooth (a couple of minutes) taking care not to over beat as it can become runny quite quickly.

 And finally to the cake assembly. When the cakes are cold, carefully halve each cake sponge horizontally. Then, place one tier on a cake stand and spread a thin layer of frosting over it. Place the second tier on top and repeat and then again with the third tier. Top with the last tier. Spread the remaining frosting generously over the top and sides. Finish decorating with walnuts.

40 carrot cake 2 w_1

Tip…

I like to make the cake sponges in advance, wrap them in foil and freeze them. Then, on the day of the cake-fest, it’s just a case of frosting and decorating.

Inspired by….

Jo Wilkes, who made this for John’s 60th birthday and who in turn, retrieved this recipe for me from the Hummingbird Bakery.

 

Carrot Cake slice w

 

Absolutely OTT Six-Layer Chocolate Birthday Bonanza Cake

Six layers of really moist, chocolately sponge sandwiched together with fabulous butter cream that is in a luxurious league of its own because of the inclusion of melted dark chocolate: this cake, if I say so myself, is stunning – very yummy and very moreish. It’s also my favourite chocolate cake recipe that I use for pretty much all chocolate cakes (first blogged as the ‘365 Chocolate Celebration Cake). The silliness that is the decoration is just me playing with ready-made fondant, glitters, shimmers and other cake-decorating play things!

What you need…

3 x 20cm round cake tins (ideally loose bottomed) liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

1½ x sponge cake recipe from the 365 chocolate celebration cake

2 x chocolate butter cream recipe from the 365 chocolate celebration cake

for the decoration

1500g Renshaw ready to roll (fondant) icing

A selection of edible shimmers, glitters, silver balls, whatever your fancy to create and an absolutely OTT cake!

Super-long cake candles (Amazon)

Cake Ice Fountain (Amazon, Lakeland)

What to do…

Follow the 365 chocolate celebration cake recipes to create three chocolate sponges and butter icing.

When you are ready to assemble the cake, cut each sponge in half horizontally. Lay one sponge onto your cake plate and slather in a little butter cream. Keep adding sponge layers with butter cream until all the sponge layers are used. Trim the edges of your six-layer sponge cake if necessary (mine weren’t even) and then slather the top and sides in butter cream, creating a smooth even surface and edging on which to drape your fondant.

Roll out 1000g of the icing to about the depth of a £1 coin and drape it over the cake, tucking and folding to fit – I find this bit particularly difficult and ended up having a couple of bits that wrapped around the side and then a jigsaw on the top – it doesn’t matter! Smooth the icing to the best of your ability.

Roll out the remaining icing and use a plate as a template cut around to make a circle to sit onto your jigsaw top. Use butter cream as a glue to stick the circle to the jigsaw top and then decorate as you see fit! (I went a bit mad!)

Allow 24 hours for the fondant to dry.

Serve to an unsuspecting birthday girl, don’t ask her to blow out the firework in the middle and enjoy this totally delicious cake!

Tips…

I made two sponges one day and then froze them once cold. I made the third sponge a second day and again froze it. The day that I wanted to assemble the cake, I sliced the sponges in half horizontally whilst still partially frozen – much easier to achieve a straight and clean cut.

Inspired by…

365 chocolate cake and ‘The Essential Guide to Cake Decorating’ book

How easy….

I’ve got the sponge nailed now. Me and fondant icing however…..work in progress…

Chocolate Malteser Cake

Serves 16+

Your kids can grow up but some things never change. Connagh and I saw Lorraine Pascale make this cake on telly several years ago and we have made it twice since. Asked what kind of cake he would like for his 17th birthday and this was the request! I’ve changed Lorraine’s original recipe, replacing her sponge and butter cream recipes with those used to create my 365 cake – my all time favourite chocolate cake. The result? Fabulous if I don’t say so myself – the cake didn’t last long though: the sponge is so, so light but lusciously chocolatey; likewise the butter cream is sumptuously rich and chocolately without being sickly. Simply divine.

What you need…

2 x 20cm / 8” cake tins (spring form or loose-bottomed ideally), lightly buttered and lined on the bottom with parchment paper.

340g unsalted butter, room temperature

340g caster sugar

6 eggs

1 dessertspoon vanilla extract

140g milk

225g self-raising flour

85g cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

for the chocolate butter cream

75g dark chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa) broken into pieces

150g unsalted butter, room temperature

300g icing sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the decoration

Around 800g Maltesers (this will be too many but I have accounted for the chef’s privileges that go along the way! It equates to 7 x 120g boxes or 2 and a bit x 360g boxes).

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 180°c / 350° / gas 4.

Using a food processor, beat together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Whilst it’s still beating, add in the eggs, one at a time, ensuring that each is thoroughly mixed in before adding the next. Add the vanilla extract and milk and mix in.

In a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Then, add in the ingredients from the food processor and, using a balloon whisk, fold together all the ingredients until they are thoroughly blended. Divide the chocolate sponge mixture between the two cake tins.

Bake the sponges in the oven for 45 minutes until the cake is firm and an inserted skewer comes out dry.

Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the tins and then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the butter cream, made especially gorgeous by the use of the melted chocolate.

Put your chocolate into a heatproof bowl and then into a steamer over a saucepan of simmering water. Gently melt the chocolate and then set aside until it is cool enough to touch.

In a separate bowl, sieve in the icing sugar and then beat together with the butter. Add the vanilla essence and then tip in the warm chocolate. Mix together using a small balloon whisk to ensure it is evenly and thoroughly blended. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Spread the butter cream lavishly and evenly across the bottom sponge. Pop on the top sponge. Using a spatula or palette knife spread more butter cream all over the outside of the assembled cake, taking particular care to fill in the gap between the two sponges. Don’t be sparing – this is one decadent chocolate cake and should be spared no naughtiness! Run a palette knife lightly around the cake and then over the top so that you have a smooth surface onto which you can pop your Maltesers.

‘Pre-clean’ the butter cream bowl before sticking it in the dishwasher: you know exactly what I mean – a small spatula, fingers – anything will do – it’s too good to waste – tastes amazing! If you have small child (or older) children around, they always seem happy to help with this particular job!

Spend time plopping on your Maltesters. I start at the bottom of the cake, going around and around the cake until I ultimately end up in the centre of the top! Lorraine Pascale was somewhat more precise in her arrangement, involving a ruler! Serve! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Decadent, delicious, delovely…just one more piece please.

Chocolate malteser cake 2

Inspired by…

Lorraine Pascale for the concept and a mish-mash of other chocolate cake recipes to get the one I love.

How easy…

Very easy; you just need time to play with the Maltesers!