I recently blogged about the marshmallow sheep cupcakes I made for a friend’s toddler’s birthday party (two friends and two toddlers in fact). The cupcakes were not the only cake on offer at the event, however, far from it. Following on from last year’s robot and monkey cakes, my friends this year created a joint birthday cake with the theme of digger. And a chocolate cake featuring diggers is, as any parent of a mini-man will tell you, as close to boy-child Nirvana as you can realistically come. For those of you not lucky enough to have sampled the delights of the chocolate digger cake (which would be most of you, world at large, unless my memory of the party is very much impaired) my friend Cara Bradley has very kindly written a guest post telling all…
Many of my enduring memories from childhood involve the amazing birthday cakes my mum made for me. Like the time I couldn’t sleep the night before one birthday and went looking for mum, to find her making duck cakes – a mummy and her baby ducks to be precise – no doubt ruining her surprise. Or the fantastic fairy toadstool cake for another birthday. So even before I was a mum, I knew that making memorable birthday cakes was on my list of parenting ‘to-do’s. And ok, it might not be the crux of good parenting, but for me it’s one of the fun bits!
As it turns out, baking cakes while supervising a toddler is tricky (hence my mum’s nocturnal baking activities), so for my 2 year old’s recent party I joined forces with his partner-in-crime’s mum, drafted in Grandma for childcare, and together we created the digger cake.
I don’t know who Kari is, or indeed her mother-in-law, but this is Kari’s mother-in-law’s chocolate cake (from Norway)
2 dessert spoons baking cocoa powder
One 300ml cup of soured cream
800ml plain flour
2 teaspoons bicarb of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt Icing
250g icing sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2-3 dessert spoons of cold coffee**
2 dessert spoons of baking cocoa powder
Bourbon biscuits and a small amount of vanilla sponge cake for the rubble. We also made some vanilla cupcakes so had spare handy, but no need to make vanilla sponge especially. You could also try mini marshmallows or crushed up digestive biscuits.
Heat and melt together the butter, water and cocoa powder in a pan, stir, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar for about 10 minutes using an electric whisk. Stir in the entire tub of soured cream.
In a separate bowl mix together the flour, bicarb of soda and salt.
Mix a little of the dry ingredients into the eggs and sugar mixture, followed by mixing in some of the melted chocolate and butter and repeat, alternating, until everything is combined. At this point, this was the most liquid cake batter we had ever seen. However it does appear to turn out well, so don’t be disheartened and assume everything has gone wrong (as I did!).Bake in a greased large rectangular roasting pan/dish or large brownie tin (we used a 31cm x 21cm roasting dish) for 40-45 minutes, 180 degrees, in the centre of the oven on conventional heat (not fan assisted).For the icing, melt the butter in a small pan and mix the other ingredients in. Pour/spread over the cake straight away while it is still warm.
Once you have put the basic icing on above, leave it to set for a good couple of hours, or put it in the fridge if you have space. It won’t go hard, but it will crust over. Take a slice of sugarpaste, and kneed in black food colouring until you get a good tarmac colour. Roll out the tarmac fairly thin (about 2mm) and to about the length of your cake. Cut the edges off parallel, and one end off square, and then roughly (but carefully!) rip the edge off the other end to form the basis of the hole.
Roll out some plain white icing (in a separate area from the tarmac colour to avoid contamination), cut out some white lines and stick them on with water. Take another section of sugarpaste, colour it orange and model some cones. Colour one more slice of sugarpaste green and push marble-sized balls of it through a (thoroughly clean!) garlic press to make grass [NB: how genius is this idea?].
Next you need to break off the corner of the cake, a fork works well, and break the cake up a bit so it starts to look like piles of rubble. Break up some bourbon biscuits and vanilla sponge/digestive biscuits to make more rubble to scatter over and around the corner, until you are happy that your roadworks are complete. Last but not least position your digger as though it’s poised ready to dig more rubble.