How I Decorated My Chocolate MEGA Cake!

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve done a foodie post and I’ve been meaning to post this for AGES. So seeing as it’s mine and my Mum’s birthday in less than three weeks and then my sisters the following month; now seems like the perfect time to get prepared for birthdays, cakes and even more bigger, brilliant birthday cakes.

So I before I get into all the nitty gritty baking delights (and disasters), I want to just clarify that I am definitely not a qualified baker or anything like that. I just really quite enjoy cooking and baking and it’s always fun to just have a go isn’t it? Plus, I really like getting to eat delicious cake at the end of it all sooooo no one is missing out here?!

If you’re not a great baker I want to share with you these easy steps I took to transform a chocolate sponge cake into looking like this one I made. I’ve seen cakes like this in bakeries, or on Instagram or Pinterest and always thought how blimmin’ awesome they look?! As much as I love my sis I didn’t know how much I’d have to end up forking out on a cake like this; especially a little last minute as well!

So, underneath all of these gorgeously indulgent layers is a relatively simple chocolate cake. One of which I haven’t yet mastered. I’ve tried a variety of different recipes adding things like yogurt, buttermilk, extra oil etc etc into it to make the sponge more moist (sorry to those who don’t love the M word) but nothing seemed to do the trick. I was a bit worried the dry sponge was going to let the whole cake down but I drenched each cake layer with a generous amount of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water boiled in a pan until it reduces and there are no sugar crystals left. Wait for it to fully cool before using) and then filled with a salted caramel and chocolate ganache.

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On the outside of the cake I used a thin amount of chocolate buttercream as a crumb coat. Which basically helps to lock in all the crumbs from the sponge layers so when you let it chill in the fridge and set up you’ll be able to get a much cleaner, crumb free, final buttercream coating. I used a straight and an angled palette knife to smooth out the buttercream on the cake. Theoretically it helps give you a smoother, more defined finish. You can buy them in most cooking/bakeware/homeware stores, Hobbycraft, Lakeland or online too. You can get them so they’re a straight edge for really neat edge or even ones that are ridged if you want to create a lined effect.

Similarly, if you don’t have one of these or don’t want to purchase something you may not use that often if you can find a flimsy piece of clean plastic or something similar to smoothly run against the frosting it’ll help create a smoothed appearance!

Once I had finished the final buttercream frosting and I was happy with it, I popped the cake in the fridge to set up and for the frosting to harden. Usually I’d be a bit cautious about putting a cake in the fridge in case it dried out but as I had simple syrup’ed each cake layer and there was a lot of ganache and buttercream involved already I was hoping it’d be ok.

To recreate the on trend dribbly bits down the side of the cake I made a salted caramel sauce (if you don’t want to do that then cut the middle man out and just buy some!) and poured it into the centre of the top of the cake and spooning it around the top of the cake until it had gently dribbled around the outer edge and letting bigger blobs dribble down the side until I was happy with how it all looked. I was quite quick doing this part, a bit worried it’d quickly harden or that if it went wrong it would ruin the whole appearance. But I found that, unlike how I approach most things in life, if you go slower and with less haste it is so much easier to control the outcome. Who knew eh!?

Then the fun bit begins! I picked up some Kitkats, Kinder Buenos, a Kinder Egg, Mikado (or pocky) sticks, chocolate coated pretzels, Galaxy golden eggs and two chocolatey doughnuts from the supermarket in order to go crazy with the toppings for this. I found some gold food colouring spray in the cupboard beforehand and thought it would be quite fun and make the cake look really luxe by spraying certain things, leaving some bare and part spraying some others. I cut some things diagonally and splayed out the different treats at different angles giving it some dimension and really because I liked how it looked.

It was actually really good fun making this type of cake and doing all the decorating too! I added some ferrero rocher chocolates around the bottom to make it look even more special ( it is a birthday after all!) and also helps if you need to cover anything up you could add a layer of fruit or chocolates and make it look part of the decoration.

There’s something extra special about receiving a homemade cake especially for a birthday treat, knowing someone has put a lot of time and effort into making something yummy for you to eat. So, have fun with whatever you’re creating, don’t worry about whether it’ll look a bit bodged or not because it’ll still go down the same way regardless!

I made homemade body scrubs.

I probably spent FAR too much time and money on my skincare and beauty regimes. I’m thoroughly getting into the crafting mood thinking about what I can make or bake next and after an afternoon out shopping and spending a ridiculous amount at Lush I tried my hand at making my own body scrubs. For some reason I thought it would be really quite difficult but I honestly couldn’t be farther from the truth with that. I was so, so shocked at how easy it was and also how much money I’ll be saving from now on. If Lush go into administration you can entirely blame me for no longer buying their Rub, Rub, Rub salt scrub. All you need to create your own concoctions are:

  • A sugar or salt. You could you any kind depending on what you want so you could really personalise it to you or even someone you’re gifting it too. Fine, course, maybe even himalayan pink sea salt if you want to make it look nice and pretty. Brown sugar, caster sugar, demerara, once again it’s all completely down to you and your preference.
  • A base oil. Coconut,vitamin E oil, olive oil, jojoba, sweet almond oil, wheatgerm, avocado oil are all really good options. They are all really nourishing for the skin, available in most health food shops or online too and all have a neutral scent so wouldn’t overpower your scrub with a strong smell.
  • An essential oil or something similar to add some scents or even colour to your scrub. Things like herbs might make for an interesting addition, freshly chopped mint, lavender or even rose petals. Rose would look lovely with a pink himalayan salt. I used coffee grounds to make a lovely coffee scrub. It helps reduce the appearance of cellulite so I think I might start bulk making it and selling it off!

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I had these four mini mason jars I originally bought from Ikea with good intentions to do something creative with but they were unused and I filled them instead. You could use kilner jars you can buy pretty much anywhere, bargain shops do them for a relatively cheap price. Old jam jars that have been washed out would look really cool and kitsch.

I made four different flavours or scents if you will. As tasty as these smell, I’d probably recommend against eating them!

I made a coffee scrub. Filling half the jar with brown sugar and the remaining half of coffee grounds I then poured that into a bowl. I did it like that so I knew it would definitely all fit in rather than making waaaaay too much. I poured the coffee/sugar mix into a bowl and then added a tablespoon of coconut oil until I got the consistency I wanted.

I also made a gingerbread scrub. Inkeeping with the christmas theme on my blog at the moment this would also make the perfect gift at christmas for those also keen on clean beauty and skincare. I used the same principal as with the coffee scrub but I filled the little jar up full of brown sugar. Pouring it into bowl with some ginger essential oil, cinnamon essential oil and a dash of star anise. mixing that altogether I poured it back into the jar and screwed the lid on tight.

Switching it up a bit I thought for my next two I would use a course sea salt base instead. Sea salt can be a bit more vigorous so using that in a body scrub would help with shifting dead skin cells and also helping to shift toxins from the body. Rubbing it in, in a slow circular motion helps to get the blood flowing reducing the appearance of stretch marks and cellulite as well as removing the toxins from the body.

I used sea salt with some coconut oil, a few dashes of some spearmint essential oil and some finely diced mint leaves from the garden.

For my last and final scrub, I added some lavender essential oil to sea salt and coconut oil. I wanted a runnier consistency for this one as I love applying it to my hair. It helps with repairing the hair shaft and it leaves it feeling so silky, smooth. It sounds mad I know, but don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.

 

 If I knew just how easy it was to make these beforehand I would have been wailing it from the rooftops. Scrubs like this are usually fiendishly and wrapped with a nice bow and a tag would make a lovely present for a friend for Christmas. Or even yourself, I’m sure you deserve it a whole heap more!

My easy Christmas chocolate cake! *

I cannot stand Christmas pudding or Christmas cake, I’m not sure if that’s an unpopular opinion but I’ll be sure to close the door on my way out if so. Baking or buying a Christmassy pud for me used to be a bit of a struggle but I think a lot of supermarkets are catering for a much wider range of people these days so chocolate Yule logs are up there as an atypical part of the Christmas day diet as much as the humble pig in blanket. Strange to refer to that in singular terms who would eat just one? Not me that’s for sure! Gimme gimme more of that delicious sausagey bacon-ness. SOMEHOW sidetracked by the bacon thoughts getting back to the point, I wanted to be able to make something that was both as much good to look at as it is good to eat for a Christmas baking idea for this Christmas feast as food is just as much for the taste as it is for the instagram. After spending some time speaking to Carrie from Branded 3 and also perusing over Pinterest ideas I spotted a pretty cool chocolate cake idea made to look like a Christmas pudding.

As mentioned in my previous post on here, I’ve been working with Branded 3 and a company called Provident financial on how to budget for christmas and perhaps find tips or tricks on making or baking things for the festivities to make life that little bit easier and also save a few extra pennies too which is always a bonus. I’ll leave a link to their page here, they feature some great posts and ideas both from themselves and articles from other bloggers on how to save some monies for Christmas. Whether that be on how to budget, baking something or making your own cards or decorations. I think that extra added homemade touch can make all the difference. Plus if you have or know young children, they can be made into fun activities for them to keep them busy too! What’s not to love?!

Back to my beloved cake, I stuck to a Mary Berry recipe for this one. I love Maz Bez and I hate dry cake sponges at the best of times but chocolate sponge is the worst for drying easier. However this recipe makes it so so easy and I’ve always had a succulent (dare I say the dreaded *moist* word) and fudgy recipe every single time.

For the cakes you will need:

  • 2 20cm 8inch deep cake tins.
  • 175g self raising flour.
  • 1 rounded teaspoon of baking powder.
  • 100g softened butter.
  • 275g caster sugar.
  • 50ml milk. I went with semi-skimmed simply because that’s the one we had at home but you could use any substitution.
  • 3 large eggs.
  • 6 tablespoons boiling water.
  • 50g sifted cocoa powder.
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c and grease and line the two baking tins. This bit always makes me feel super prepared and hands on like I should be on a cookery show although I make a lot more mess.
  2. Start by mixing the boiling water and the cocoa powder in a large bowl (I used my Mum’s kitchenaid for this it’s a lot easier to use a stand mixer as it takes out a lot of the hardwork!) blend it together until it’s a smooth paste like consistency/
  3. Add in the remaining ingredients until the mixture forms a thicker batter.
  4. I use a ladle to evenly distribute the mixture into the two cake tins as I find it a little easier doing it that way.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until the cakes feel firm, spongy or when bounce back when pressed with a finger. Leave the cakes to cool completely before applying the next layers.

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I was really happy with how my little cakes turned out. They were both even in colour, texture and height, thus making it all a lot easier when it comes to sandwiching them together.

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When they were cooling I took them out of their tins and started to think about how to layer the cake. Checking which side had the flatter or more even surface to become the base as you can see above.

Once leaving them to cool I got on with the beautiful task of washing up. That’s the laborious parts you don’t see on Nigella of her singing along to radio 2 and washing up her old pots and pans, because that’s the end of an episode I would wait and watch for. I also emptied all the Malteasers I bought for this recipe into a large bowl.

I covered the cakes in a homemade ganache but if you want to make life easier for yourself the store bought tubs of chocolate icing work just the same.

To make the ganache you’ll need:

  • 250g good quality dark chocolate. I used an 85% one. I love dark chocolate and the bittersweet flavours.
  • 235ml double cream.
  1. Cut the chocolate up into fine pieces and place into a bowl. At the same time put the cream into a saucepan and bring to a boil, careful not to burn it.
  2. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk it til it’s smooth. If you want a thicker ganache leave it to cool completely and then whisk it again til it becomes fluffier and thicker. If you like it runnier and thin then as soon as it is cooled pour over the cake from the centre working outwards.
  3. I will say however if you are planning on sticking the Malteasers on the cake like I did you will need a thicker ganache.

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I felt like adding a touch of decadence so used a silver cake serving plate I found at home and iced it on that. I blobbed a small dab of ganache to the place and then put the bottom layer on top of it which’ll secure the cake, sticking it down in place a little. The ganache is thick, rich and chocolatey and everything you’d want for a decadent treat.

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I used 3 bags of Malteasers to the cake starting at the bottom and slowly going round and round the cake until it was all completely covered. It was very fiddly and would require a little bit of patience (Also, not easy in acrylic nails may I add)

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Using some white fondant icing which I rolled out and cut using a knife in a wavy pattern to give the appearance of icing dribbling off of a christmas cake. I used some green fondant icing to make holly leaves too. If fondant icing is not for you, if you don’t like the sweetness (like my stepdad) or if you don’t want to add it, dusting some icing sugar over the cake would have the same impactful look.

This recipe is honestly one of the easiest and most straight forwards recipes I’ve followed. It leaves no room for anything to go wrong so you can’t really! It makes for a really gorgeous centrepiece if you’re throwing a party as it looks really impressive AND looks like you spent a long time and a lot of money on it too! I was super impressed with this bake and will be sure to make it again for the festive period.OH did I mention it was totally mouthwateringly delicious too?? I’ve said Christmas so many times in this post I’m sure i’ve summoned Michael Buble to wake from his year long slumber, but that wouldn’t be such a bad thing now would it ladies?