Thursday, 14 July 2011

The joy of creating birthday cakes

It is always an honour to be asked to make a cake for someone for a special occasion, but to be asked to create a cake celebrating someone's birthday is truly special... A birthday marks the day you made your debut to the world - and there is only one of you in the whole world, so what a special debut it is! It is for this reason that I genuinely love creating birthday cakes and cupcakes for others, regardless of whether I know the birthday girl/boy personally or not. I do love the feel good vibe of being involved in a happy occasion, even if it is in a very small way by making a cake...

I recently had the pleasure of making this birthday cake for a relative celebrating her 20th birthday. The brief was simple and to the point. Flavour? chocolate. Colour? red. Simple briefs like that are some of my favourite because they just beg for a little creative thinking. In this case, I created a 7 inch eggless chocolate cake layered with a lovely milk/dark chocolate ganache. I then decorated it with RTR fondant in a 50s inspired polka dot and bow theme for a girl who loves the colour red... Her smile upon seeing it was well worth the effort :)

Here is my 'go to' recipe for a lovely eggless chocolate cake - a must in a baker's repertoire in case of allergies or eggless preference orders!

Eggless Chocolate Cake
An adpated recipe from Divine Taste


200 gm (1 1/2 cups) plain flour
50 gm (1/4 cup) cocoa powder*
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda/ sodium bicarbonate
4 teaspoons caster sugar
1 tin/400gm sweetened condensed milk
150g unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp good quality vanilla essence
150 ml water

* I have had most success with 'Cadbury's Bournville Cocoa' from the supermarket. My trials with richer cocoa powders such a dutch cocoa powder have been unsuccessful.

1. Preheat the oven to 100 - 120 degrees celcuis. Grease and line the bottom of a round cake tin with greaseproof paper/baking parchment/butter paper. I used a 7 inch cake tin, but an 8 or 9 inch would work equally well.

2. Into a mixing bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and sugar. Whisk together briefly to ensure a uniform mixture.

3. Add in the condensed milk, melted butter, vanilla essence and water. Beat with an electric hand mixer, whisk or spoon just until the mixture is uniform and smooth and there are no lumps. This shouldn’t take more than a minute with an electric hand mixer/beater. Be careful not to over beat as this tends to stiffen the batter which might result into a harder textured cake.

4. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for an hour at 150 degree celcius.

5. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely, then ice/decorate as desired.

Tip: When baking cakes without eggs, it is essential to ensure you cake is cooked all the way through before removing it from the oven. Failure to do so will sadly result in a sunken cake... To avoid this, do a cake skewer test in the centre of the cake, even if you're confident it's cooked properly.

And voila, a beautiful chocolate cake - here is an innards shot!

Of course, the overall result with the flavour was enhanced by both the sugar syrup and chocolate ganache I used in assembling the cake before covering it with fondant. For your reference, here are the recipes to each of these.

Sugar Syrup
Recipe from the Planet Cake book by Paris Cutler

100g apricot jam
100ml boiling water
2 teaspoons Cointreau (optional)

- Whisk together the jam and hot water in a small bowl, then pass through a sieve to remove any lumps. Once cool, stir in the liqueur and use as required.
- Some people like to brush layers of cake with a pastry brush, however, I often prefer a small (and of course, clean) spray bottle -  it's quick, easy, and no risk of brush fibres being left behind in the cake!

Milk/dark chocolate ganache
This is an original Diary of a Ladybird recipe which I believe is ideal for cakes/cupcakes for children or those who don't like dark chocolate very much)

400g dark chocolate, finely chopped
400g milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups pure cream

1. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
2. Heat the cream to boiling point then remove from heat.
3. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until combined.
4. Allow to cool and set (ideally) overnight.


- You can store extra ganache in the fridge for up to a week, but ensure your cream has at least a week's shelf life from the date you use it. Then when you need to use it, remove it from the fridge and soften it by warming it up in short bursts (10 - 15 seconds) in the microwave.

- If you are make a larger amount of ganache, you can store it in the freezer in smaller containers. Then just take it out and let it come up to room temperature before you need to use it. You can then soften it in the same way you would if it were straight out of the fridge.

Until next time, dear readers...
Ladybird xxx


  1. It is such a beautiful cake! The bow is so pretty! How do you make it? do you have a special cutter?

  2. Amazing details! All your lines are so crisp. Love it :)

  3. Love the elegance, love the chocolate!

  4. Beautiful cake that will test my limited patience! I will not be able to do this in a thousand years!

  5. You have such a talent here! How do you keep everything so neat? Thanks for the eggless cake recipe too :)

  6. Thanks for your comments. Sweet Artichoke, the bow is hand crafted by folding and shaping pieces of fondant :)

  7. Wow, awfully pretty cake. Love the big but simple details, so cute.

  8. GAAAWD! Please bake my birthday cake! Look at all that ganache goodness.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. This cake is really beautiful!

  11. That is such a beautiful cake! I wish I could bake like that! It looks delicious too.

  12. what a great looking cake!

  13. I love the understated simplicity of the cake, gorgeous! I love baking for other people too, especially special occasion cakes. The moment when you present it to them (and everyone else) and everyone's eyes light up... and then comes the first spoonful of cake and then you hear 'mmmm' it's a nice feeling to be able to make others happy =)

  14. wow your cake is simply awesome, I never knew you can cook a cake like that without egges. i love the red colour great work!

  15. This is beautiful! My little boy is turning 2 soon and his cousins are allergic to egg, so i will be using your recipe. I hope I can find a good way to decorate with cars, construction vehicles, anything motorized! Cheers!

  16. I'm confused, you've said pre heat oven 100-120, then further down you say cook at 150 - which is it?

  17. Hi there - you preheat at the lower temperature, and then increase it to 150 as soon as you put the cake in. Hope this clarifies


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