Turn a simple cake into a showstopper with these three decorating ideas

Berries and cream cake decor.
Berries and cream cake decor. Photo: Kelly Barlow

Has your child outgrown character themed cakes like Thomas the Tank Engine and Frozen? Here is a simple - but delicious - chocolate cake recipe that anyone can make with three simple and effective decorating ideas to turn it into a party showstopper that will impress kids of any age.

Easy chocolate cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ½ cups SR flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
Bubble wrap chocolate box cake
Bubble wrap chocolate box cake Photo: Kelly Barlow

Method:

This is a variation of my Nanna's chocolate cake recipe, made even easier by the use of oil instead of butter. This is one of those cakes that you can make with staples form the pantry with no fancy equipment.

Pour the oil, boiling water and cocoa into a small mixing bowl and whisk up until smooth. In a larger bowl, pour in the sugar and flour and make a little well in the centre. Pour the chocolate mixture into the well and mix through. Add the eggs and mix again until smooth.

This cake is best cooked in thin layers. This quantity will give you two layers in a 20cm cake tin or three layers in a 15cm cake tin.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 15-20 mins.

Here are three ways to decorate this layered cake with minimum effort and maximum impact.

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Pink frosting

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of pink frosting
  • 5 pink macaroons
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows

Method:

Pink frosting cake
Pink frosting cake Photo: Kelly Barlow

This is a very simple and elegant way to decorate a chocolate cake. The Naked cakes are very fashionable right now, a bit of chocolate peaking through the pink frosting is such a pretty and effective way to decorate a cake for your girl who's grown out of the character cakes.

Top each layer of cake with a generous amount of pink frosting making sure you ice right to the edges. Stack each cake on top of each other giving each layer a gently push to encourage the excess frosting to ooze out a little. Take a spatula or the back of a long knife and scrape the sides of the cake to remove the excess frosting. Even up the frosting on the top of the cake by scraping it to flatten the frosting.

Top the cake with some pink macaroons and marshmallows for a simple elegant design that will make your little one's eyes pop

Berries and cream

Ingredients:

  • 300ml cream
  • 300ml double cream
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 2 punnets of strawberries
  • 1 punnet of blueberries
  • 1 punnet of raspberries

Method:

This is a simple and effective way to make your simple chocolate cake look glamorous. Simply grab some of your favourite berries and whip some cream.

Pour the cream and double cream into a mixing bowl and beat with electric beaters until thick ribbons form while beating. Top each cake with whipped cream and berries then stack the cakes on top of each other for a tower of decadence.

Use a cake spatula or the back of a long knife to scrape the excess cream from the sides of the cake. Use any leftover cream and berries to pile on top of your cake.

Bubble wrap chocolate box cake

Ingredients:

  • 400g chocolate
  • 3 bags of chocolate confectionary
  • large piece of bubble wrap

Method:

This decorating technique is deceivingly easy (don't tell your guests).

Layer your cakes with cream, frosting or ganache in between the layers, you can use one of the suggestions above.  Give the sides of the cake a light coating of your chosen filling as well, this will help the chocolate to stick.

Measure out your bubble wrap against the height and circumference of the cake. You need the bubble wrap to be about 2 cm higher than the actual height of the cake so that you can fill the top with chocolates to decorate. You also need to check that the bubble wrap will fit around the cake, its best to have some overlap to help the chocolate hold when wrapping it. Cut the bubble wrap to size and lay it flat on a clean, dry bench that is easy to clean (there will be some chocolate spillage here).

Melt the chocolate and pour it over the measured and cut bubble wrap, spreading it with a cake spatula.  Don't make the chocolate too thin because you don't want there to be holes left behind when you peel the bubble wrap off the cake.

Allow the chocolate to partially dry on the bubble wrap. You need the chocolate wrap to still be able to be bent and moved into shape but the chocolate can't be wet enough to leave a fingerprint behind when lightly touched. Don't be tempted to put your chocolate in the fridge to help it set, once chocolate has been in the fridge it becomes impossible to work with as it melts as soon as you touch it.

Once the chocolate has partially dried, wrap the bubble wrap around the cake. Gently peel a small amount of the bubble wrap away from one end of the chocolate bubble wrap. This will help you wrap the chocolate around the cake completely with some overlap which will seal once set. Leave the rest of the bubble wrap on the cake until the chocolate has completely set.

Once the chocolate has set, gently peel the rest of the bubble wrap away from the cake. You can use scissors to even up any rough edges on top of the cake if necessary. Now you just pour your favourite chocolates on top of the cake until they are just slightly higher than the bubble wrap.

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