90th birthday celebrations

In July 2014 my grandmother turned 90 and hosted a garden party to celebrate the occasion… My contribution to the festivities was a birthday cake.

I decided to make shaped cakes (something I’ve not done before) but opted for the slightly easier option of shaped cake tins rather than cutting to shape.

I bought a 9 and a 0 – rather underestimating the size of the tins and ended up with these monsters…


The first challenge was working out the mixture volume which I did by guess work (way too much the first time) and then deciding on how I’d flavour them.

Rather than a Madeira recipe I opted for a standard sponge recipe (equal quantities of egg, flour, butter and sugar) and made one vanilla and one lemon.

Each tin had 10 eggs and the corresponding ingredients – mixed in 2 batches as my mixer couldn’t manage it all! And then decorated with sugar paste flowers.

It was well received by the birthday girl and all the guests (plus all the residents of her apartment block 2 days later!) 🙂



Brownie points

Last weekend was my boyfriends mums birthday – so what better way to earn some brownie points than to bake a cake (she has 2 sons so homemade birthday cakes I would imagine have been something of a rarity)

I opted for the Brooklyn Blackout Cake – from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook – which is a very chocolately 3 layered cake.

A sponge recipe that I am not familar with (I tend to opt for the standard victoria sponge 2 oz of flour, butter and sugar to every egg) I guess it was slightly risky when cooking for someone for the first time!!

The mixture was suprisingly runny, and didn’t rise as much as a normal sponge but when I took them out of the oven, they were light and airy.

The topping/filling was a very thick chocolate custard, which needed to be cooked and then cooled – and the recipe made far far more than was necessary to fill and coat the cake.

The most difficult part of this recipe was definitley decorating the finished cake with cake crumbs – still not sure on the ‘official’ way of doing this but it looked good in the end (albeit like a very large truffle!)

The cake went down well, and despite the sponge being a little dry, the chocolate custard more than compensated!

Top tip is to serve at room temperature as opposed to straight out of the fridge!

100g unsalted butter (room temp)
260g caster sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
45g cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarb of soda
170g plain flour
160ml whole milk

(chocolate custard)
500g caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125g cocoa powder
200g cornflour
85g unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 x 20cm cake tins base lined with greaseproof paper

Preheat the oven to 170c (325f) gas 3

Mix the butter and sugar together untol light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, ensuring all the ingredients are fully combined.
Add the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarb of soda until well mixed.
Add half the flour, then all the milk and finish with the remaining flour.
Mix until everything is well combined.
Pour mixture into the 3 tins, smooth with a palette knife and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 mins.
Leave to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto wire cooling racks to cool completely.

Choc custard
Put the sugar, golden syrup, cocoa powder and 600ml water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, whisking occasionally.
Mix the cornflour with 120-200ml water whisking briskly as you add the water. The mixture should be the consistency of thick glue (if it is thicker than this, add extra water up to a total of 250ml)
Whisk gradually into the cocoa mixture in the pan over medium (not high) heat. Bring back to the boil, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking constantly, for a few minutes, until quite thick.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Pour into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill until very firm.
Slice a thin layer off one cake and put in a food processor. Process into fine crumbs.
Put one cake on a cake stand and spread one quarter of the customer over it. Place a second cake on top and spread another quarter of the custard over it. Top with the last cake and spread the remaining custard over the top and sides. Cover with the crumbs and chill for 2 hours.