I was recently asked to make a birthday cake for a three year old. I could hardly refuse. ‘Because you don’t want to let a little boy down?’ you might ask. Not so. Because it was asked of me by my boss. How could I refuse? Seriously, the man pays my wages. So we scheduled in a board meeting (or something less formal) to discuss a theme. What does your boy like? Seems diggers and trucks is his thing. Riiiiight… Okaaaay… I have no idea about such things but I’m guessing no glitter. Shame. So I typed ‘digger cake’ into the oracle (google), got some inspiration and set to work. This is what I ended up with:
As you can see its a chocolate cake and is covered in chocolate buttercream icing. (Recipe below). The diggers and trucks were the birthday boys own (stolen right from under his unsuspecting nose by his own father. With good intentions of course). I managed to buy the little workmen candles from a cake shop and, as I’m sure you can tell, I made the traffic cones by hand with Sugarpaste (Rollout Icing). They were quite tricky, at one point they looked like wizards hats. But I think they turned out ok in the end. They look like traffic cones don’t they? DON’T THEY?!?!?!?!?
- 50g dark chocolate, melted and allowed to cool slightly
- 250g butter, at room temperature
- 250g light muscovado sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 100g cocoa powder
- 250g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3 large eggs
- 250ml milk
- 50g chocolate chips
For the buttercream:
- 140g butter, softened
- 50g cocoa powder
- 200g icing sugar
- 2 tbsp milk
- Grease and line the bases of 2 x 20cm springform cake tins with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) 350F / gas 4. Cream together the butter and sugar with ½ tsp salt until light and fluffy.
- Sift together the cocoa, flour and baking powder. Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time and beat until well combined, then fold in half the dry ingredients followed by the melted chocolate. Fold in the rest, followed by enough milk to give a soft dropping consistency, and then the chocolate chips. Divide between the two tins and bake for about 25–30 minutes until firm in the centre.
- Allow to cool completely on a rack, then make the buttercream. Beat the butter until fluffy, then add the cocoa, icing sugar and, if necessary, a little milk to loosen the mixture. Put one of the cakes on a serving plate and spread a third of the icing on top. Place the second on top, then spread the rest of the icing over it.
- To decorate get a spoon and simply gauge out a hole to suggest the diggers have been doing their job… digging! Not too deep though as you don’t want to hit the buttercream centre. Keep the crumbs but remove the iced bits. Work out where you want to arrange the diggers, candles etc and then sprinkle the cake crumbs in a small area like a pile of dug up soil. Easy!
- To make the cones take a small piece of the sugarpaste and roll and shape with your fingers until desired shape it achieved. Mine aren’t perfect but I think that adds to the charm. That’s what I tell myself anyway… The base of the cone was created by simply rolling the paste flat with a rolling pin and cutting a square shape with a knife. Assemble and the job is done.
Honesty corner: the main oven isn’t working (which I discovered after baking the cakes for an hour and them still being barely cooked) so I used the smaller top one. This tends to burn cakes. I knew this. And yet I still burnt them. The shame… So I got a serrated knife and cut away the offending crust. I would have done that anyway to get a flat cake so no harm done. The cake texture was super crumbly. I can’t help but wonder if that’s because of its oven switching/delayed time adventure, or if it’s some other reason I can’t think of. But it tasted nice. Very rich, possibly because of the chocolate chips? I’m not sure. I’m no Mary Berry. One day though… one day.