Monday, 14 January 2013

S'more Cake Recipe

Next week’s cake club has the theme “New” – I immediately thought of New York and all the lovely cake I ate there on my last visit. One highlight was s’more pie, lovingly described in a blogpost entitled Oh God I Am So Full. According to Wikipedia, a s’more is “a traditional nighttime campfire treat popular in the US and Canada, consisting of a roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of graham cracker". So tasty you want “s’more”.

As the first rule of cake club is no pies, no tarts, no cupcakes, no brownies, no anything that isn’t one large cake, I decided to badger my Canadian cousins for a s’more cake recipe and was directed to this amazing-looking s’more cake by Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body  I baulked at making such a large and complex cake and opted instead for a simpler s’more cake recipe she also shared.

The problem about making s’mores in the UK is that it’s very hard to get hold of the key ingredient: graham crackers. I was advised to use digestive biscuits instead and as they’re crumbed in this recipe anyway, it’s probably OK. The other problem is North America’s baffling use of cups for measuring things that aren't breasts.

I’ve “translated” this recipe into grams for Europeans with the help of my Nigella Lawson cups and some kitchen scales.


For the cake:
100ml vegetable oil
80g apple sauce (yes, this surprised me. I worried that apple sauce is something else in America. Like when they say a man is wearing suspenders. HILARIOUS)
3 eggs
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g digestive biscuit crumbs (= 14 biscuits)
90g plain wholewheat flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
350ml evaporated milk

For the marshmallow frosting:
100g unsalted butter at room temperature
300g icing sugar
8 oz jar of marshmallow fluff

Marshmallow fluff has started popping up in supermarkets like Asda. I was quite excited to learn that, unlike most marshmallow products, it’s vegetarian and I was free to gorge on it.

Dark chocolate ganache:
100g double cream
100g dark chocolate broken into small pieces

  • Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius/gas mark 3 and grease and line two 8 inch baking tins
  • In a large bowl, mix the vegetable oil, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla extract
  • In a separate bowl, mix the digestive crumbs, flour, salt and baking powder
  • Add this to the liquid mixture alternately with the evaporated milk
  • Divide the batter between the two tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the tins for 10 minutes, then allow them to cool completely a wire rack
  • Once the cakes are cool, mix the frosting by beating the icing sugar and butter with a splash of water until smooth. Then add the marshmallow fluff and beat until it is all combined
  • Sandwich the two cakes together with the frosting. You might not need to use all the frosting
  • Heat the cream in a saucepan until it is simmering, remove from the heat and add the dark chocolate. Allow the chocolate to sit in the cream for a couple of minutes, then beat it with a spatula into a smooth glossy ganache 
  • Spread the ganache over the top of the cake. You can decorate the top with chocolate chips and mini marshmallows, or as I did use leftover frosting


I wasn’t entirely convinced by this cake – the sponge has an almost savoury taste like Cornflakes while the frosting is super sweet. I gave the s’more cake to a group of friends who said it was delicious. Maybe they were being polite. Maybe they had the munchies. I don’t know. But hey, look at his funny little face!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Putting an edible photo on a cake

Last June, I went to the Basque territory with my friend Petra. After gorging ourselves on tapas and cava in San Sebastian, we went to Bilbao for more tapas some culture and visited the Guggenheim.
Here we are in front of Jeff Koon’s Puppy.
My sister said we look like a couple (we’re not, if any fellas are interested).
It happened that I was in luck and there was an exhibition on that I could understand: David Hockney’s The Bigger Picture – paintings of trees in Yorkshire.

As I wandered about looking at the grouped canvases that together made one huge painting, I started thinking about cake (this often happens). Specifically, whether it would be possible to create one large image on a grid of individual cakes. I searched for an occasion and an image to try the experiment. I didn’t have to search far – I was two weeks away from my 40th birthday and had commissioned a family portrait by Kim Haskins.
The children I forgot to have
Key to the project was getting a large print of the image on sugar paper. I highly recommend Eat Your Photo, who print and post good quality images quickly and at a very reasonable price. They were extremely helpful in getting the right size for the image – I wanted it 15 inches square, which meant printing the image in 4 separate parts. They matched it perfectly.

I bought 25 three inch square cake boards and cut two layers of vanilla sponge slightly smaller than the board, allowing for the 8mm that the sugarpaste would add to the size. Then I simply had to sandwich the two layers together with raspberry jam and buttercream, crumb coat the cake (also known as “dirty icing”, which makes me snigger every time), chill the cakes and cover them with sugarpaste. Twenty five times. What could be more fun on your birthday?

Once all the cakes were iced, I cut the image into 25 three inch square pieces and attached them to the cakes with a tiny bit of edible glue. As the image was already on four separate sheets, some of the cakes had two or even four pieces of sugar paper to attach – you can see the joins on Mia’s face.

If you’re attempting this, try to keep all the pieces in order or at least have a copy of the original to hand, or else you end up with a rapidly disintegrating jigsaw. Sugar paper is delicate – if you have trouble detaching it from its backing, pop it in the freezer for a couple of minutes to dry it out.

The result was a very large cake – here is a photo of the cake next to the painting, and a photo of William next to the painting to give you an idea of scale. Bear in mind he’s a big lad who weighs nearly 6 kg.

Personally I’d struggle to eat a 15 inch square cake on my own but I’d accidentally arranged a party so I had plenty of people to take the cake off my hands. By the end of the night, I only had half a dozen little cakes left. I could manage those on my own.