Monday, 21 May 2012

An easy birthday cake - how to

After I'd reviewed Ruth Clemens book recently this happened to be my first option to turn to this weekend for a recipe for the base for a chocolate birthday cake. Ruth had mentioned that her chocolate cake recipe was a good failsafe one and the book has the measurements for all sizes of tins. So you can make a small or large cake to suit the numbers you are catering for, a win all round!

The tin I used for this cake was a 9 inch round spring form cake tin and this made a decent sized cake for a bit of a birthday bash. I did think about icing this chocolate cake with fondant icing, but I was pushed for time, and I had made a cake like this once before for a cake club (see below) and it was quite successful and effective. This is a very colourful cake and I thought the design would suit a male recipient and it has appeal for children too (especially if they are having a colourful ball pool party).

Not a lot of effort goes into the decoration of this cake really, you just need a good tasty supply of chocolate buttercream, 3 packets of chocolate fingers and I also used up to 3 packets of the sharing size of coloured chocolate beans aka smarties.

This is not a new design for a cake as this one has been around for a while, not sure who 'invented' the design but its quite effective when put together. Whoever came up with this idea was probably trying to save money by using chocolate fingers round the outside as chocolate cigarillos are usually used for this kind of cake, but these are very expensive and prone to breaking easily too.

You could do a variation on this cake to put fresh fruit on the top (strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries etc) or Maltesers or round Aero bubble chocolates or any other sweets really...just go for it.
If you go over to Ruth's Pink Whisk blog this recipe is about right for the cake I made, I'm sure she won't mind you using it. If you want other variants on this for other tin sizes then they are in the book.
1 home made chocolate cake size to suit the number of your guests
1 quantity of chocolate buttercream...made up as follows...
250g soft unsalted butter
420g icing sugar
80g cocoa powder
50g melted dark chocolate
milk (to loosen  the buttercream a little)
(just mix everything up with a mixer and beat the life out of it, add milk to loosen a bit to spread easily)
3 4 packets of Cadburys fingers biscuits (one of my packets had so many broken ones I had to buy another!)
3 packets of sharing bags Smarties
1. Once you've made your cake you will need to split it horizontally into 2 and sandwich the two halves with butter cream (you can add jam if you like too at this stage).
Make sure the bottom of the cake becomes the top (so its flat). Use two cocktail sticks in each part of the cake so that you know where to align the two sections of the cake back together again (a tip taken from Ruth's book).
2. At this stage put your cake onto some greaseproof paper. Start to lather it in buttercream, to do this start on the top of the cake and work your way across and down. Try to get it as even as you can, but it does not have to be perfect. Leave the cake to set for at least an hour in a cool place. 
3. After an hour the buttercream will have set, move your cake onto a plate or cake board. Now add another thinner coat of buttercream all over the cake and try to get this layer as even as you can.
Now a very important the packets of fingers and before you put them on make sure one or more of the packets does not contain mostly broken fingers (this happened to me when I made this cake and this caused me to be short on annoying when that happens).
4. Start to put the fingers around the cake sides and keep them straight and upright. If you have gaps between the fingers and the cake at the top edge do not worry, as the smarties will hide these once you put them on top.
5. Once you have all your fingers in an even row around the cake start to add the smarties on the top surface, make sure you have no gaps and that all the buttercream is covered up by smarties.

If you are mean with your smarties the cake won't look as good as this...doesn't this look great?

Here are some pictures of another version of the same kind of cake. I made this last year for a clandestine cake club where the theme was 'pink'. For this cake I used three different kinds of chocolate fingers, plain, milk and white and topped with pink smarties. (I added just one blue smart just to show off the pink more and to make it stand out a bit).

This post was NOT sponsored by any well known or reputable sweet or biscuit manufacturers in the UK or anywhere else for that matter. Nor has any biscuit manufacturer offered to replace my broken fingers. In fact the only one sponsoring this post is me!


  1. You make me chuckle! I think your cakes are stunning. Funily enough I was telling Karen from L&L yesterday that my most viewed post is of my 'very large birthday cake' which is a Ruth Clemens recipe. In fact she personally guided me thru it. Gawd bless her and gawd bless your fab cake!

  2. LOL lovely post and gorgeous cake!!! Yes please!! I bought 3 packets of chocolate fingers with the intention of making a cake like this with strawberries on top (after seeing it on Lorraine Pascale's show on TV) but have never gotten round to it. Let's just say I need to go shopping again. Love the smarties idea - definitely trying that out one day :)

  3. OMG this looks delicious and so easy to do! I definitely must try this sometime

  4. This looks gorgeous...and would be great for an chocoholics!!! I love the colour added by the smarties. I guess the benefit of having broken fingers is you had to eat them all...and everyone knows that broken biscuits have no calories too! I think I might have to get the Ruth Clemens book.

  5. Who needs fresh fruit when you can have smarties ;-) It looks fantastic and has a real wow factor too. I used cigarillos on a cake I made last year and they were very expensive and did break easily.

    BTW, surprise, surprise, I've nominated you for an ABC award on my blog!

  6. Wow that looks fantastic! I made a chocolate overload Birthday cake for my sister last weekend and used chocolate fingers, much cheaper than cigarillos and just as impressive :-)

  7. This is a gorgeous cake. I would love this for my birthday!

  8. This looks really wonderful! And it has the right ingredients! :-)


Please leave a comment...if you have tried one of my recipes I'd love feedback, and thank you for taking time to pop by to read my blog.

Susan x