Ah, cake. A sweet, jammy victoria sponge with your tea in the garden centre on dreary afternoon; a slice of carrot cake at that sort of cinema; a chocolate dipped flapjack after a long walk in the hills. But the best cake, surely, is a celebration cake. I’ll leave Christmas cake (and my slightly peculiar Yorkshire tradition) to the proper season, because today’s post is about Birthday Cake.
I was apparently very unwell after my third birthday because my Dad and uncle had fed me with marzipan off my cake for the whole afternoon. I don’t really recall that incident, though I still cannot stand marzipan! But I do remember birthday cakes in the shape of rabbits, cut from many round sponge cakes, from a Woman’s Weekly recipe; simple round cakes covered in butter icing, sprinkles and candles; your name and ‘Happy Birthday’ piped on in a different colour. Some girls even had the ‘Sindy in a ball gown’ cake. This was all long before you could buy a Thomas the Tank Engine or Angelina Ballerina cake in a supermarket.
My boy was born in 2008, just after the last very early Easter we had, I remember sitting on my bed in the hospital, looking at this miraculous child and not quite believing he’d arrived (we’d been through a lot to get to this point!). So this Easter Saturday he was a big grown up eight years old and he asked for a posh chocolate cake.
In fact he asked specifically for “that really chocolatey Nigella one with all the icing” (one of our great bonding moments is watching Nigella together). So Devils Food Cake it is, luckily this one is also unfussy enough to survive a 250mile car journey to Grandma and Granddads house.
I made the cakes after a rather horrendous day at work, and it was quite therapeutic, as baking should be. I also managed to spatter chocolate batter all over my copy of ‘Kitchen’ but all cook books should be a bit spattered, I think!
I frosted it with a tub of Betty Crockers Frosting (I feel like I shouldn’t use such things, but Americans know about frosting, so it’s really quite delicious!).
My special touch on this year’s cake was LEGO minifigures in chocolate. I’d seen mention of these edible folk on a friend’s Facebook page and immediately knew I must make some. The moulds are silicon ice cube trays (and, who doesn’t want a frozen LEGO person floating in their G&T on a summer afternoon? I do!) but do just as well for chocolate.
I made them in plain, milk and white chocolate and stuck them all round the outside, with some jelly diamonds as requested:
Made a couple of stars and his name with some leftover melted chocolate (not my neatest piping, it was quite late by now!) and on the day it looked like this, in its be-candled chocolatey magnificence on my parents’ disco worktop:
We did manage to prise him away from his birthday present to blow out the candles.
The Devils Food Cake Recipe is in Kitchen and on Nigella.com. It’s really easy to make too!
Some of my other cakes are here, if you’re interested.