I often surprise myself when I look back over these pages and find that a recipe I thought I’d just posted turns out to be over a year old. I’m sure like me, you often find yourself saying things like time fly’s or where the heck did that year go and believe me, that it is so much more evident when you have children. It only seems like the other day that I was holding my little bundle of cuddliness and in a blink of an eye I find a handsome little man stood grinning cheekily before me.
You see my small one turned eight last Sunday and so amidst my inner combined sadness (the time issue thingy) and joy, I get to be creative and have fun wowing his little friends with the birthday cake again this year. You may remember last year we made the creepy crawly cake where I found myself fending off, what seemed like millions of zombie childlike hands, screaming for the jelly snake or the colourful scorpion draped down the sides. The year before was the Superhero themed party with our Spiderman cake – the one that seen our little guests leaving with tie dyed blue and red lips.
This year the small one asked could he bring his little friends to play laser tag, so it didn’t take long for a theme to emerge or for me to find inspiration and create this army tank cake. And after an hour and a half of 8 year olds running madly and wildly about, breaking every rule in the game, swapping sides and generally having crazy fun, it was time to produce the birthday cake. And it did wow the little ones who yelled louder and stronger than a sergeant major shouting orders at his platoon, looking to see who could have the liquorice cannon I had placed on the front of the cake. But like a sergeant major mom I had it all under control – I ate it in front of them all. Problem solved. Happy birthday Boo, love you.
Chocolate army tank cake
Serves: Approx 16-20 slices • Baking time: Approx 20 minutes
225g Castor sugar
225g soft butter
4 medium eggs
180g Plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
Chocolate fudge icing
450g tub of Betty Cocker’s chocolate fudge icing
300g white fondant icing
Black, green, brown food colouring
Mini finger biscuits
1 liquorice pipe
To make the sponge:
1. Preheat oven to 180c/Gas 4/160c (fan). Grease and line the base of two square 20cm baking tins and one round 7″ sandwich tin.
2. Mix the cocoa powder with enough boiling water to create a smooth paste.
3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then mix in the cocoa paste.
4. Crack the eggs into the mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sieve the flour and baking powder together and fold gently into the mixture.
5. Divide the cake batter between the three tins. Bake for about 20 minutes or until coming away from the sides and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tins for five minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack. When the cakes are cold take the round cake and cut off the edges to make a small square shape.
To make the camouflage fondant icing
Knead the fondant until soft and workable. Divide into 3 pieces and using a toothpick dot the the first food colour in several spots. Knead until the colour is consistent. Repeat with the other two pieces and colours. Then break each one into tiny round balls (see image) and using a large piece of cling film as a base, alternate the coloured balls in the centre forming a circle. Place another piece of cling film over these when ready to roll out. The colours will blend together forming the camouflage effect.
1. Sandwich the two large square cakes together with the chocolate fudge icing. Then spread some over top of the cake and sit the smaller square cake, centred on top.
2. Cover the entire cake with the chocolate fudge icing, smoothing it out with a palette knife.
3. Roll the fondant icing out until it is large enough to cover the entire cake. Gently lift it over the cake and allow it to flow down over the edges. Using your hands mould it into shape around the cake. Cut off any excess at the bottom of the cake.
4. Spread a little chocolate fudge icing on each finger biscuit and starting at the bottom of the cake paste each one on to form the tracks of the tank. Repeat on the other side.
5. Dot each Oreo biscuit with chocolate fudge icing and stick them on to both sides to create the wheels.
6. Finally make a hole in the middle of the tank and stick the liquorice pipe into it for the cannon, (secure with a little black fondant icing). For extra effect get some toy soldiers and place them around the cake.
Tip: You can prepare the different coloured fondant a few days in advance and wrap in cling film until ready to use.