Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Best Birthday Cake

Photograph by James Merrell

Serving Size : Makes up to 12 slices, though small ones


200g plain flour
3 tablespoons Bird's custard powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 eggs
225g soft butter
200g caster sugar
2–3 tablespoons milk

For the buttercream filling

125g icing sugar
4 teaspoons Bird's custard powder
75g soft unsalted butter
11/2 teaspoons boiling water

For the chocolate icing

60ml water
2 tablespoons golden syrup
125g caster sugar (or use 50g if using milk chocolate)
175g dark chocolate
1 pot hundreds and thousands


1.Make sure everything you need is at room temperature before you start. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C, and butter and line two 20cm sandwich tins.

2.Put all of the above ingredients except the milk, into a food processor. Process to a smooth batter, and then add the milk a tablespoon at a time to make a soft dropping consistency. Divide between the two cake tins and bake for 20 minutes. The cakes will have risen and feel spookily puffy; this is because of the cornflour in the custard powder.

3.Let the tins sit on a cooling rack for 5 minutes and then turn them out on to the rack, peeling away the paper.

4.FOR THE BUTTERCREAM ICING - Process the icing sugar and custard powder to get rid of any lumps, and then add the butter, processing again to make the buttercream come together. Feed the boiling water down the funnel with the motor running to make the filling easier to spread. Then sandwich the cooled sponges together with the custardy buttercream.

6.FOR THE CHOCOLATE ICING - Combine the water, syrup and sugar in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve over a low heat.

7.Let it come to the boil and then take it off the heat.

8.Break up the chocolate into small pieces if you are not using chocolate buttons (as I do for cooking, but good quality not confectionary standard), and then add to the pan, swirling it around to cover in the hot liquid. Leave to melt for a few minutes, and then whisk the icing to make it smooth and shiny. Pour over the buttercream filled cake, letting it drip down the sides, and then sprinkle generously with the hundreds and thousands before the icing sets.
9.Prong with candles, light them and sing.

From: nigella.com

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