Thursday, 29 December 2011

Critters Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream covering.

So I thought, hmmm, what can I make my Sister for Christmas, I know! A cake with all her animals on! One text later I regretted this idea - 2 dogs, and now others had increased to 11 rabbits and 19 guinea pigs! (These numbers were out of date by the time the cake was eaten haha!)  Still, the modelling practice would be good, especially seeing as all modelling I had ever done in 41 yrs was, um, disappointing. So challenge on!

    I used the cake and buttercream recipe from Sara's Cooking Diary with the only change being that I used 23cm/9" spring-form tins as I wanted as much top surface as possible for the animals. It still made a plenty deep enough cake. I thought the sponge was just right for a large cake, not too light and fluffy, not too heavy, just about the right body and texture, and mixed with the buttercream it was very, very nice! I will be using this for a choccy cake again :)

  • 250g Dark Chocolate
  • 170g Unsalted butter at room temp.
  • 350g Light brown sugar
  • 3 Large free range eggs
  • 370g Plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 500ml milk at room temp
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract.
For the buttercream:
  • 175g dark chocolate
  • 225g Unsalted butter at room temp.
  • 1 tbsp milk at room temp.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g icing sugar

  1.  Grease and line 2 x 23cm tins, or as I do now spray lovely non-stick spring-form tins with even lovelier cake release spray. 
  2. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a bowl over a saucepan of water or in a microwave heating with 30sec bursts. Don't stir the chocolate while it's being melted. Allow the chocolate to cool a bit.
  3. Preheat oven to 180c/170c fan/Gas 5
  4. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until pale and smooth
  5. Separate the eggs, beat the yolks and slowly add them whilst mixing.
  6. Add the slightly cooled chocolate and mix well.
  7. In another bowl sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt.
  8. In a jug mix together the milk and vanilla extract.
  9. Alternately add a third of dry ingredients and third of the the milk to the chocolate mixture and mix well. Repeat until the dry ingredients and milk are all added.
  10. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
  11. Carefully fold in the whisked whites to the mixture with a metal spoon until fully mixed in, be gentle, you don't want to beat the air out of the whisked whites.
  12. Divide the mixture equally between the 2 tins.
  13. Bake for approx 35 minutes, until risen and a skewer comes out of the centre clean.
  14. Leave the cakes to cool for 10 minutes, then tip out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
For the buttercream:

  1. Melt the chocolate as above and leave to cool a while
  2. I did the following in a food processor, but you're welcome to hand beat it. In a large bowl beat together the butter, milk, vanilla and icing sugar until completely mixed.
  3. Add the slightly cooled chocolate and mix until creamy and smooth. If the mixture seems to runny, add more icing sugar.
  4. I mated the 2 top sides of the sponges together so that the bottom and top of the cake were flat. Test the two sponges together and if necessary, trim off any bits of the mating faces to help the sponges sit flat.
  5. Add buttercream to one surface and sandwich the sponges together. If you are icing the sides as well as the top then use about a third of the mix. If you're just doing the sandwich and top then use a half (It will be quite thick, which is fine :) )
  6. Use a palette knife to apply the buttercream to the rest of the cake.
  7. I found the buttercream to be quite solid at fridge temp but less so, but not runny, at room temp.
  8. Eat! or decorate further.

    Half the army of animals ready and willing!

    Stanley Dog - The first animal I made and the only one I was happy with.

    Rocky the Shug.

    Now mothers, tell your children, not to doooooooo what I have done.... The Animals - House of the Rising Sun.

    A single Animal doing his thing whilst Rita Moreno tries to sing Fever. Just brilliant!

    And finally, I think there's enough animals for them to have a Carnival.... Saint-Saens - Aquarium

    Finally, finally. Seeing as I made this for my Sister it's a fine excuse for slipping in some awesomeness from Groove Armada - Look Me In The Eye Sister.  I was thinking that i got carried away with Gingerbread Glastonbury until I saw this :D Just brilliant Vid!


    1. Your cake is adorable! The little white puppy is perfect!

      You definitely have modeling skills he has so much character. x

      1. Coming from someone who creates the wonders that you do, that is a mountain of a compliment! :) Thank you x

        (I'm not sure what happened with Stanley dog, I've never made anything with character before!)