Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Fabulous M and Ms Cake

Every Monday, my friends and I have our weekly movie night to try and brighten up the stereotypical 'worst day of the week.'  This Monday was a little different though, as we decided to hold a surprise party for our friend Lizzie who turned 22 last week.  I was in charge of making the cake, which was a little daunting as I'm quite out of practise with my baking, but it turned out surprisingly well!  It was maybe not the most aesthetically pleasing cake in the world, but it was certainly very tasty...

The cake was a simple Victoria sponge with chocolate frosting, I used M and Ms as decoration as they're Lizzie's favourite sweets, but any other sweets could be used instead - it's probably the easiest way to make a cake that's personalised to a friend's tastes!

I took the sponge recipe from a book I got for Christmas called The Baking Bible, I think the recipe was designed for a less wide cake tin than my giant one though as the cake didn't turn out as thick as i'd hoped.  Might have to invest in some smaller cake tins for next time!

The ingredients you will need are:
  • 175g unsalted butter at room temperature (microwave it for about 5 seconds if you forgot to take it out of the fridge beforehand)
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
 For the frosting, I used my old favourite recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook (which I would highly recommend, everything I've made from this book has been delicious).  You'll need:
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 40 ml whole milk
The recipe is pretty simple to follow: to make the sponge, firstly cream together the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time, mixing in thoroughly each time, and then fold in the flour and vanilla extract.  To fit the M and Ms theme, I decided to colour the layers of the cake in red and yellow, so I divided the mixture between two bowls and added food dye.  My friend Laura did something like this for my birthday last year but with an awesome 6-layer rainbow cake, you should check out her blog!

Bake the cakes in a pre-heated oven at 190 degrees for about 20 minutes.  If you gently press the cake and it springs back, it's done!  While the cakes cool, make the frosting by combining the icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder until they form a smooth mixture, and then add the milk a little at a time, mixing constantly.  The only bad part about the Hummingbird cookbook is that all the recipes say things like 'mix for 10 minutes in your freestanding electric mixer,' which is sadly a kitchen gadget that is beyond my budget right now, meaning that mixing can be quite an effort, especially with my zero upper-body strength...  However, with my boyfriend Tetley acting as mixing assistant, we got there eventually - don't give up!

Finally, frost the cake, covering the first layer of cake entirely and then placing the second layer on top and doing the same.  Decorate with your sweets.  (Using M and Ms here made me realise just how rare the red M and Ms are, I had to open two big packets and I still only had just enough for my pattern!)

Have a very staged-looking photo of Lizzie cutting her cake while Tetley is a creep in the background!  These last two photos were taken at night so I apologise for the poor-quality flash photography.

One last picture of the cake's red and yellow interior.  Apart from the thinness which could be fixed by using a smaller cake tin, I'm pretty pleased by how this turned out! I'll definitely give this recipe another go and try it out with different frostings and sweets.


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