I’ve been doing quite a bit of baking recently. Having done some birthday baking on the course I’m doing this year, I’ve inadvertently got a bit of a reputation for myself and ended up doing quite a lot more baking than I’d anticipated! The bad news? There’s 44 people on the course. The good news? Someone from the course invited me to join a local baking group she attends where I live in London! The other good news for you is that there will be another birthday cake I’ll post on here shortly if you’re looking for birthday cake inspiration.
So the way this baking group works is meeting once a month, where each month has a theme and you bake something in advance to bring along. Half is allocated to savoury and half to sweet, which in theory makes the experience of trying more than 10 different bakes less sickly! I made the rookie error of having a light dinner beforehand. Next time, I will most definitely be starving myself beforehand. My first baking group meeting had the amazing theme of ‘Kid’s Birthday Party’, which certainly gives a bit of scope for creativity! There was a really good spread of ideas from the other bakers, but my personal favourite was probably these great cookie monster pops someone made!
I decided to go for a piñata cake because it’s something I’d wanted to try for a long time and seemed like a fun twist on a classic. For those of who you maybe haven’t heard of this concept, it’s essentially like the Latin American tradition of the piñata donkey which spills out lots of treats when it has been broken by the children. Here, the fun surprise is lots of sweeties spilling out of the middle. Because of this, it’s extra important that you leave sufficient time for the cakes to cool before constructing your cake and it’s also useful to think about trying to avoid particularly sticky sweets in the middle, as you don’t want any moisture getting in and creating a big clump in the middle – the joy is all about letting the sweets spill out! I opted for dolly mix and jelly beans, but again, personalise it for whoever you’re making it for!
I also decided to opt for a really neutral and classic decoration for the exterior of the cake to make the colourful inside an even more exciting surprise, but please feel free to be as colourful and creative as you like! I went for a 3 layer/ 3 colour version here, but you could also choose to go the whole hog and do a full rainbow cake! My ingredients and icing are totally based on my staple ‘The Jessica Cake’ format – because if it aint broke, why fix it?
Next month at the baking group the theme is Italian and I’m on Team Savoury, if anyone has any ideas please let me know because I’m looking for inspiration!
For the cake:
– 300g unsalted butter, at room temperature (plus a little extra for greasing your cake tins)
– 300g caster sugar
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 6 eggs
– 300g self-raising flour
– food colouring, one colour for each layer (I like to use Dr Oetker’s gel food colours, which don’t give that chemically taste that other food colourants sometimes do)
For the icing:
– 300g icing sugar
– 50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 125g cream cheese
How to make it…
1. First, preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4/5. Then, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together in a mix bowl. Then mix in one egg at a time, before folding in the flour.
2. Divide the mix into 3 separate bowls and add a different colour of food colouring to each of them. Line the bottom of your cake tins with baking paper and grease well with butter. Pour each bowl into it’s own separate tin and bake for around 20 minutes. It should still have a bit of spring to it when you lightly push the top. When you take the cakes from the oven, leave them in their tins for a few minutes and then put them on a cooling rack. Leave until they’re completely cool, for several hours or overnight.
3. To make the icing, mix the icing sugar with the butter until they’re well integrated. Next, add in the cream cheese and mix with an electric mixer/ handheld electric whisk on a medium or high speed, for at least 5 minutes or until the icing becomes light and fluffy. Leave in the fridge to set for an hour or more.
4. When the cakes are cool, use a knife to level off the tops of the cakes if required to prevent any slant in the cakes. Next, cut a small circle into what will be the bottom two layers of the cake, ensuring that they line up. The easiest way to do this is to use something like a glass to do both layers at once (see picture).
5. Ice the bottom two layers of the cake and add your sweets to the hole in the middle of the cake. Then simply cover and finish icing the cake with a design of your choice!