Magical celebration cake

Magical celebration cake


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This beastly cake is made up of 6 layers of alternating chocolate and vanilla cake, sandwiched with chocolate caramel frosting with crushed oreos in each layer. It’s covered in vanilla frosting and has a pink chocolate ganache dripping down the sides. There’s also a tonne of sprinkles and glitter involved. It’s been a while since I’ve made a big celebration cake actually, and this opportunity was perfect for me to make one of those whimsical, colourful, explosive cakes. I have to say, it’s one of my favourite cakes to date. It’s like a unicorn, in cake form. This time, I was asked for a Harry Potter cake. Except I don’t work with fondant. Really, I hate the stuff – it tastes horrible, it’s too climate dependent and is generally not very forgiving. This in mind, I offered a “magic” themed cake instead. Every element bought something new to the cake and added to its eccentricity. One of the stars of the show was definitely the selection of chocolate truffles – 10/10 would confuse one of those for the Philosopher’s Stone.

These were from Marks & Spencers
These were from Marks & Spencer

The social media savvy amongst you might recognise this cake style. It is, of course, inspired by the dessert queen herself, Katherine Sabbath. Humble, kind and lovely, Katherine prefers not to compete against her cake making peers but wants to inspire everyone with her amazing work. Her attitude is rather refreshing.

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The lollies were great – they gave the cake a very Charlie & the Chocolate Factory kind of feel, complete with the drippy ganache and sprinkles. I had actually bought some glittery jelly beans for the cake but they somehow became lost and as yet, no one in my household has volunteered their position…!

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Either way, this cake has the wow factor. And it’s not as complex as it looks. IMO, the key to succeeding with big celebration cakes is to split the whole process up. I had to have the cake ready for 12pm Tuesday, so I baked the cakes on Sunday and froze them Sunday evening. This was a fairly lengthy process as there were 6 layers and I only have one 7” tin. I also made the chocolate shards on Sunday and left them in the fridge until Tuesday. Monday, I took the cakes out of the freezer to defrost and made a chocolate caramel frosting to sandwich the layers together. I covered the whole cake in the chocolate frosting and left it in the fridge for about 6 hours. Then I made a vanilla frosting to cover the whole cake once more and stuck sprinkles on the sides before it set. The whole thing was sprayed, multiple times, with gold and silver glitter. It was the prettiest, most sparkly cake EVER. Tuesday morning saw me make a (pink) white chocolate ganache and stick all the cake toppers in. I didn’t feel like this cake took me a long time because I did it over 2 days and it really reduced the stress/anxiety involved in baking someone’s 16th birthday cake! (It’s an important year – I remember my 16th. The cake was everything!) Of course, you could do the whole thing at once, the steps are optional!

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Making tiny bunting is quite fun.

For the vanilla layers:

80g salted butter

280g caster sugar

240g plain flour

1tbsp baking powder 

240ml milk

2 large eggs

1tbsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate layers:

80g salted butter

280g caster sugar

200g plain flour

40g cocoa powder

1tbsp baking powder

240ml milk

2 large eggs

1tbsp instant coffee 

1tbsp vanilla extract 

Both recipes barely adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery

1) Preheat the oven to 160FAN and line a 7” or 8” tin with parchment paper. Spray the sides with cake release spray.

2) Using a mixer, combine the butter, sugar, flour and baking powder together until it resembles breadcrumbs.

3) Measure the milk in a jug and whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Add wet to dry by slowly pouring the milk and egg mixture in to the flour mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl down as you go along. As soon as the mixture is combined, divide it by 3 and pour 1/3 in to the tin. Bake for 25-30 mins until a cake tester comes out clean. (I weighed my mixture out to get even layers, it worked out to be about 300g of cake batter per layer.)

4) Let each cake cool on a wire rack upside down (it helps flatten any domes).

5) For the chocolate cakes, repeat the process. Treat the cocoa powder as flour and follow the same steps. Add the coffee to the milk and egg mixture to dissolve it.

Ok, by now you should have 6 cake layers. If any parts need trimming off to get completely flat layers then do it once the cakes are cool and preferably refrigerated.

For the chocolate shards:

150g white chocolate

blue/red gel food colouring

1) Melt the white chocolate in the microwave in 20 second bursts. Split the chocolate in to three bowls and add some blue gel food colouring to one and red to another, drop by drop, until you get nice pastel shades. Spoon the chocolate on to baking parchment and swirl it together. Add some sprinkles and let it set at room temperature and cool in the fridge. Chop in to shards and leave them until the very end.

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For the chocolate caramel frosting:

200g salted butter 

2tbsp salted caramel spread (M&S do a great one)

450g icing sugar

50g cocoa powder

a few splashes of milk 

1) Make sure your butter is at room temperature before starting. Whisk the butter in a mixer for about 5 minutes, until pale and gloriously soft. Add the caramel and mix again. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder together. Add it in 2 batches to the butter, mixing slowly each time so that it doesn’t end up all over the counters! If your frosting is too stiff then loosen it with a splash of milk, just a tablespoon at a time. Depending on how hard/soft your butter is, you may need more or less milk. You need this frosting to be pretty stiff and hold its shape firmly as it has to stabilise 6 layers of cake. Add more icing sugar/cocoa powder if it gets too slack.

2) Stack the first cake layer and on top of the frosting, add some crushed oreos for a bit of textural fun. Alternate between the vanilla and chocolate cakes, adding crushed oreos every time until you reach the top.

3) Cover the whole cake in a thin layer of the frosting and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours.

Oreo pieces in between each layer
Oreo pieces in between each layer

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For the vanilla frosting:

100g salted butter 

350g icing sugar 

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Black/blue/red gel food colouring

1) Beat the butter as above and add the icing sugar and vanilla. Add food colouring drop by drop until you reach the colour you desire. I ended up using almost a full tube of black! I tried to go with a night sky kinda colour here. I mean, I showered the whole thing in glitter, but the undertones were really pretty too. It was a deep mauve colour.

2) Cover the whole cake in this frosting and spray it with gold and silver glitter spray. Stick sprinkles along the bottom edge of the cake before the frosting sets.

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For the (pink) white chocolate ganache:

140ml double cream

150g white chocolate 

Red gel food colouring 

1) Chop the chocolate in to small chunks and set aside in a glass bowl. Heat the double cream in a pan until it’s simmering and really hot and then pour it over the chocolate chunks. Let it sit for a minute or so and then stir the ganache together. Add some red food colouring, if you like.

2) Let the ganache cool for about 15 minutes. Start dripping it down the side of the cake and then cover the top. This bit doesn’t matter too much – the sheer amount of paraphernalia you’re putting on top of the cake is pretty distracting so don’t worry about this bit!

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Add the shards to the cake, pressing in slightly. Add some swirly lollies and stabilise things if you need to with maltesers or other small sweets. Go crazy with the decoration – it’s completely personal!

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