Sunday, 9 December 2012

Construction Cake

This is the cake I made for my son's 4th birthday party (see previous post).  I based my design on a Construction Mountain cake I saw in the Donna Hay Kids Magazine (using only the chocolate butter icing and decorating instructions).  The cake recipe I modified slightly from the Chocolate Birthday Cake recipe in the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Book.  It produces a light, moist chocolate cake, perfect for a birthday party.  

Chocolate Cake (from Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Book)

6 cups plain flour
4 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons instant coffee granules (I substituted this for cocoa as I didn't want to use coffee in a kids birthday cake)
2 cups hot water
2 cups cocoa
2 cups cold water
400g softened unsalted butter
5 cups castor sugar
8 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

*Please note:  this is double the quantity of the original recipe.  However, you need this much to make the two cakes. 

Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius.  Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt.  In a separate bowl whisk together the coffee (or substituted cocoa), hot water and cocoa until you have a smooth paste.  Add the cold water and whisk until evenly combined.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes.  Add the castor sugar a third at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition.  After the last addition, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved.  Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until mixture is light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

Add a quarter of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat on low speed until combined.  Add a third of the cocoa mixture and beat until combined.  Repeat this process twice more.  Add the remaining quarter of the flour and beat until thoroughly combined; do not over-beat as this will toughen the mixture.

Divide the mixture between a lightly greased 18cm round tin and a 28 cm round tin, both lined with non-stick baking paper to come 3/4 of the way up the sides of each tin.  Bake the 18cm cake for 1 hour 35 minutes - 1 hour 45 minutes and the 28cm cake for 2 hours 10 minutes - 2 hours 20 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.  Cool cakes in tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

*Please note:  I experimented with this recipe and didn't record the baking times.  The above cooking times were  taken from the Donna Hay Kids Magazine, even though I didn't use that recipe.  I cooked my cakes at 170 degrees so they cooked much faster than the above times.  I would recommend if you are making this for the first time to check the 18cm cake at 45 minutes with a skewer and the 28cm cake at the 1 hour, 30 minute mark.  If they are still quite wet continue cooking and check every 20 minutes or so.  Whilst it is not ideal to keep opening the oven, you don't want an overcooked cake!

Next time I make this recipe I will make sure I record the baking time.

Chocolate Butter Icing (from Donna Hay Kids Magazine)

250g butter, softened
2 cups (320g) icing (confectioner's) sugar, sifted
1/2 cup (50g) cocoa, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the butter in an electric mixer (or use a hand mixer) and beat for 6-8 minutes or until pale and creamy.  Add the icing sugar, cocoa and vanilla and beat for a further 10-15 minutes or until light and fluffy.

To assemble, trim the tops of the cakes and discard.  Place the 28cm cake on a cake board and top with the 18cm cake.

Using a spoon, scoop out some cake from the top cake to create a 'construction' hole.

Place the crumbs in a bowl and set aside.  Using a palette knife, ice the two cakes with the chocolate butter icing, leaving the hole uncovered.

To Decorate

500g store-bought ready-to-roll black fondant icing
50g store-bought ready-to-roll white fondant icing
6-8 honeycomb pieces
small toy trucks, construction workers

Knead the black fondant on a clean surface until pliable.  roll out between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper to 3mm thick.  Using a 26cm round plate cut a circle from the black fondant.  Lay a 23cm plate over this piece and cut around it to create a circular road, reserving the middle.  Place this around the top of the 28cm cake.  Knead the white fondant on a clean surface until pliable.  Roll out between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper to 3mm thick.  Cut out 32 x 1cm long pieces for the 'median strip'.  Brush the base of 18 pieces with water and make the 'road'.

To create the ramp, make an incision through the 28cm cake on a 45 degree angle.  Cut straight down vertically using the smaller cake as a guide.  Pull out the wedge of cake and discard to create the ramp (or eat!).  Now cut a straight line across the bigger cake using the first cut as a guide to open up the face of the ramp.  Knead the remaining black fondant on a clean surface until pliable.  Roll out between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper to 3mm thick.  Cut a 3cm x 38cm piece of road.  Place down the ramp and wrap around the base of the cake.  Brush the base of the remaining white lines with water and press onto the road.  Sprinkle the reserved cake crumbs on top on the cake and along the base of the cake to complete the construction zone.  Place honeycomb around the cake to make 'boulders'.  Arrange the cars and top pieces around the cake to finish.

This was my first time using fondant icing so it doesn't look perfect. Hopefully next time I will be a bit neater!  I also need to work on getting a smoother finish on my butter icing but it had been 38 degrees celcius the day before and the house was still hot and things were melting.  There's always a next time and practice makes perfect!

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