I cannot deny: I am extremely pleased with myself for my birthday cake efforts on behalf of my father. When he showed me the menu for the lunch party for his 70th, I couldn’t help but notice no mention of CAKE. And, as you may know, where I am concerned, a party without cake is not a Proper Party at All.
So I rashly promised to bake him a cake. And how many would be attending, I thought to ask. oh just forty he replied.
The largest cake I’ve made is a round one for maybe twelve people. And I’ve certainly never iced a theme cake. I knew it had to have something to do with cars, as that is my father’s overarching passion, (here we are driving his MGA at Goodwood together.) but I drew the line at baking a car-shaped cake.
So I got on the internets, read through my cookbooks, did some thinking, and did some sums. Quite a lot of sums. And came to the conclusion that my own recipe for chocolate espresso cake, being quite moist but still firm, might be up to the job if multiplied a bit. (A moist recipe makes sense because you need to make sure it is cooked in the middle, but not burnt on the outside.)
It’s a mother of a cake that I made, in a 10″/25cm square tin. Nearly a pound/half a kilo of melted Green & Black’s 70%, almost a tin of G&B’s Cocoa, nearly a pound of butter, nearly 2lbs/1 kilo Billington’s sugar and so on. But HALLELUJAH. It worked. AND it didn’t stick in the tin, not one little bit, which was my major worry.
It was slightly too brown on one side, but am presuming that’s an oven anomaly, as I often get that on pans of Brownies.
After it had cooled, I sliced the top flat, and marzipan-ed it. I’m not a fan of marzipan on cakes, but it’s a bugger placing royal icing straight onto a cake, as the crumbs make it very bumpy, and it’s hard to get a smooth sheen to the icing that way. So marzipan it was. In hindsight I should have used twice as much for a thicker layer.
Then I rolled out the royal icing, and with the help of a rolling pin, draped it over the cake. Talk about nerve wracking.
I used a special icing smoothing tool, which worked like a miracle, giving a great sheen, smooth surface, and a tucked in appearance at the bottom edges.
There was absolutely no way on God’s green earth that I was going to start colouring plain royal icing black. I’ve been down that route before. Generally you end up with stained counters, black nails and crying. So I ordered a pack off the internets for the grand sum of £2.50. So rolled out, and cut into a curve, which I was quite pleased with. The only ballache was the white road markings. As the world’s least detail orientated person this was hell-ish, and took me longer than the entire cake icing. (It looks simple, but they kept tearing, and melting so the sharp edges were lost)
I could have left the edges un-beribboned, but thought it looked more festive, so pinned a length of broad grey satin around it. Then I bought a pack of racing cars from John Lewis to race across the top. I wanted trees too, but the car/trees/cake scale was difficult to judge by mail, so I left it.
So: one race track cake. Simples.