With Easter happening at the end of March this year, why not get organised and plan a fun activity that children can get involved in?
Clare Pope, owner of Cuckfield-based Clare’s Cake Boutique, recommends a recipe for this eye catching cake that even we should be able to make!
In addition, Clare shares her tricks of the trade on how to make and decorate cakes like a professional.
By getting the children involved, you get to keep them occupied for a few hours during the Easter holidays (whatever the weather), and they get to learn a new skill. Allowing you and the family to marvel at the centrepiece on the table on Easter Sunday.
Chocolate Easter Cake
6oz/120g Self-raising flour
6oz/170g baking margarine
6oz/170g caster sugar
3 large eggs
2oz/50g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of baking powder
- Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl
- Crack all three eggs into a separate bowl and lightly beat with a fork
- Sieve the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into another bowl
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter then add 1/3 of the eggs. Beat gently, either with a mixer or by hand. Once all the mixture is combined, add the same amount of flour mixture and egg again, combine in the same way. Once this is mixed, add the final portion of flour mixture and egg, beating together to form an even smooth paste.
- Grease and flour two 7” Victoria sandwich tins.
- Scoop mixture into each of the greased tins, ensuring there is an equal amount in each.
- Bake in a preheated oven (180oC/356oF/Gas mark 4) for 15-20.
- **Do not open the door until the cake is cooked!**
- Remove from tins and leave to cool
For the filling:
75g butter (softened) ·
175g icing sugar ·
2 tbsp cocoa powder ·
dash of milk
- In a bowl beat the butter and cocoa powder until soft and smooth.
- Gradually add the icing sugar, beating until it forms a thick, smooth paste. If it’s too stiff, add a dash of milk.
300g of Sugar modelling paste for the rabbit
100g sugar modelling pasts for the flowers and writing
Food colourings – yellow, green, orange, black, pink
Small artists paintbrush
Cool boiled water or vodka to stick everything together
1 strand uncooked spaghetti
- Colour a small amount of the sugar paste green, yellow, orange, pink and a tiny amount of black for the eyes. See the photo for the rough amounts that you need for each colour.
- Split out the white sugar paste into a large ball for the body, a medium ball for the head and 6 small balls for the feet, arms and ears. You will also need a small amount of white for the rabbit’s nose. See the picture for an idea on the relative sizes of balls that you need.
- Shape the body into a pear shape and using a toothpick, press this into his tummy to make a belly button.
- For the head, shape this into a ball and then press gently with your thumb to depress slightly where the eyes will be to shape the head. Make a small oval of white icing for the rabbit’s nose area. Stick a small amount of pink for his nose on this using the paint brush to add a tiny amount of water to wet the icing before pressing together. Using water again, attach the nose parts to the head.
- With the wrong end of an artist’s paintbrush, make a shallow hole for his mouth. At the top of this hole, use a toothpick to intent a line, and stick a tiny amount of pink inside his mouth.
- Using the toothpick, mark at the top of the head where the ears will be – this will help when you come to stick the ears onto the head.
- For the feet, roll the ball into a squat cone shape and flatten gently into a foot shape. Use a knife to mark where the toes would be.
- For the arms, roll these into long cone shapes and flatten the hands slightly. Again, use a knife to mark where the fingers would be.
- For the carrot, roll the orange paste into a carrot shape and flatten a small ball of green for the top of the carrot, with another small unflattened ball on top of this. Using your knife, gently mark a few lines around the carrot.
- To assemble your rabbit, stick your spaghetti vertically into the body and break off about 1.5cm above the top of the body so that it’s not so tall as to stick through the top of the head. Brush a tiny amount of water around the spaghetti and place the head on the body. Stick the feet underneath the body and attach the arms just under the head. Attach the carrot into one of your rabbits hands. To attach the ears, moisten the marks you made in the top of the head with water, and attach the ears on by gently smoothing the back of the ear onto the head.
- Once finished, leave your rabbit to dry overnight before using some royal icing to attach it to your cake.
- For the writing on your cake, you can either pipe this on, or use letter cutters on a small amount of thinly rolled icing.
- To make the flowers, cut out the flowers from the white paste and then roll small balls of yellow to stick in the middle of each flower. Attach these to the cake with a small amount of royal icing if the flowers have dried, or if they are still malleable, brush on a small amount of water to attach them.
Cake Decorating Hints & Tips by Clare Pope
- Cut the domed-top off your cake and discard, then turn it upside down and use the base as your neat top to decorate.
- Before you cut a cake eg: for layering, leave it to cool and then refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for 30 mins. This will make the cake more stable and less crumbly when cutting.
- Spread cake decorating out over two days. Day 1 – ice your cake with sugar paste. Day 2 – decorate with cut out shapes, characters and writing. This way the base layer will have time to harden so there is less chance of it getting damaged.
- To stick shapes made out of sugar paste to your iced cake, brush vodka or cool boiled water onto the reverse of the shapes before placing them gently but firmly onto the cake. The vodka will quickly evaporate and will give a much better finish than jam.