It was my son’s 16th birthday last week. I’m feeling very old. It doesn’t seem 5 minutes since he was born and we brought him home from hospital. Now he’s studying for his GCSE’s and he’s taller than me! As the boy wonder has grown older I think back to all the birthday cakes I’ve baked for him over the years. I remember baking him a giant pirate ship cake complete with Curly Wurly masts and a Dairy Milk plank. How I wish I’d taken a photo of it but this was in the days before Smart phones and I wasn’t very organised with cameras.
This year my son said he just wanted a small birthday cake. I was gratelful for that as I had had an extremely busy week teaching in a nursery class the week before. I eventually found the perfect cake in The Clandestine Cake Club’s second cookbook “A Year of Cake”. The original recipe is a stunning looking cake called “Smartie Pants Cake” by Ruth Tebbutt from Gateshead Club. Her recipe in the May chapter of the book was created to celebrate the Eurovision Song Contest, usually held in May. As the recipe introduction states “Rather than pick sides, Ruth has created a cake that reflects the colourful spirit of the event and the kaleidoscope of cultures, characters and costumes that viewers have come to expect,”
What I also love about the Smartie Pants Cake is that it is so adaptable. It could be baked for any age group: young or old as well as being perfect for different occasions. The outer edging of the cake is decorated with Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers and the topping is decorated with a rainbow effect of colourful Smarties. I had made the cake once before as part of a cake demo evening so I knew it would work well. When I was buying the ingredients though, I found that Fox’s Chocolate Fingers were on special offer in Morrisons and at 55p a packet as opposed to £1.50 for the Cadbury’s ones, you can guess what I went for. I also found that Peanut M&M’s treat bags were on special offer, so they were substituted for the Smarties instead!
Last Saturday afternoon, I started to bake the cake once my jobs had been done. It’s a vegetable oil based chocolate cake and also uses golden syrup to sweeten the mixture as well as sugar. It gives a lovely light sponge without being too sickly sweet which does go well with all the chocolate and sweets! The cake is sandwiched together with a chocolate fudge buttercream which is not too heavy but provides enough “glue” to the top and sides of the cake so you can stick the chocolate fingers and Smarties in the right places.
One of the fun parts of baking this cake is to separate all your Smarties or M&M’s out into separate dishes of different colours. This makes it so much easier when you’re decorating the top of the cake. My mum, who was staying with us for the weekend enjoyed helping me with this task but we were both annoyed when opening the Fox’s Chocolate Fingers. For a start about 10 of them were snapped in half so were no good for decorating the outside of the cake. I was also furious because I didn’t have enough fingers to go round the outside of the cake with three packets, although last time with three packets I had more than enough! Even the broken ones stuck together weren’t enough. The cake looked a complete mess on one side.
In the end my son asked if he could decorate the top of the cake and he really enjoyed doing it. What made me laugh though was that he said he didn’t want brown M&M’s on the top of the cake. He couldn’t see what was funny but I told him there was a pop star (can’t remember which one) who asks for M&M’s in his or her dressing room with the brown ones taken out. My son said the brown ones didn’t show up against the chocolate cake. He has a point!
We had a large slice of cake the following morning. It gave a lovely chocolatey hit without feeling too sweet or too sickly. I really enjoyed it and it got eaten over the next few days. I would love to bake it again, although I won’t be baking it for a Eurovision Song Contest Party. It’s my own birthday celebration that weekend and my daughter has offered to bake me a cake.
Love Sam xx