Being someone who bakes a lot, people often say to me “I hope you don’t have to make your own birthday cake!” But what they don’t understand is that, for me, the pleasure is as much in the baking of the cake as it is in the eating. I’m the type of girl who gets as much joy from throwing/planning/hosting a party as going to one. This is the cake I made for my 20th birthday, and given that I was sort of making the recipe up, I must say I was pretty chuffed with how it turned out. For my 19th birthday I made a peanut butter two layer sponge cake with Nutella buttercream icing, which was delicious, but this year I wanted to step it up a level. Inspired by the hidden design cakes on The Great British Bake Off, I wanted to make something that prompted everyone to go “Oooh” as the first slice was cut. Obviously, my cake is nothing like a spectacular as the showstoppers on GBBO, but this triple layered cake with its colour gradation was definitely unexpected by my party guests.
Peanut butter and chocolate is a winning combination as far as I’m concerned. Just ask any American – hello, Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups of deliciousness. What’s more, the yoghurt in this cake keeps it nice and moist. My favourite layer was the peanut butter, whereas my cousin’s four year old daughter preferred the birthday chocolate cake- this cake is a real people pleaser.I’m not going to lie to you, the icing recipe I followed did not work out well at first, so then I had to do all sorts of strange things to salvage it. Never before had I cried about icing, until 22nd September 2012. It was a dark time for me. Luckily, I turned it around. I wasn’t going to just throw away all that Nutella and chocolate now, was I? After all, I’m not actually on GBBO, as much as I like to think I am. I don’t think I can even remember how I managed to make my icing in the end, so I’ve included a recipe for Nutella icing by The Primrose Bakery, which I think should work just as nicely. Don’t forget to take your butter and eggs out of the fridge well in advance!
Ingredients – Cake:
1. Butter three 20cm non-stick sandwich tins and line with circles of baking paper. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Using electric hand beaters, beat the butter, eggs, sugar and yoghurt together until smooth and creamy.
2. Split the mixture into three equal quantities by pouring two thirds into two separate bowls – these will create the three different flavour sponges for each layer. In one bowl, beat in the peanut butter with the electric mixer, and in another, beat in the Nutella. Mix the cocoa powder into the third bowl by hand. Try a little bit of each mixture to test for flavour strength, and if desired, add a bit more of each flavour. (The peanut butter is stronger so that’s why you need less than the Nutella.)
3. Fold 100g of flour into each bowl, then pour each mix into one of the tins, using a spatula to get every last bit and smooth over the tops. Bake for 30 mins until risen and golden. When out of the oven, go round the edge of each cake in the tin with a spatula knife to make sure the cakes don’t stick to the walls. Leave to cool in the tins for about ten minutes, then remove from the tins and leave to cool completely on a baking rack.
4. Make the icing: Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. When the chocolate is melted and runny, pour into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes. Add the double cream, butter and vanilla extract and beat well with an electric hand mixer until really smooth. Beat in the Nutella until the icing is a creamy consistency.
5. When the cakes are completely cool, layer them up with the peanut butter sponge first, then the Nutella layer, then the chocolate, sandwiching them together with a layer of the icing. There should be a nice gradation of colours. Cover the top of the cake and the sides with icing creating as smooth a finish as you can (it’s difficult!) If you find yourself running out of icing, you can always spread on more Nutella! Finish off the cake by sprinkling some crushed Maltesers or whatever else takes your fancy on top.
The Cambridge Blue