What jungle party would be complete without a few ferocious jungle animals, aside from the children I mean. This spotty crocodile is my version of a crocodile cake found in The Australian Women's Weekly 'Kids' Party Cakes (published 2005) on page 115. The original cake had crushed up lollipops on it, but as the cake was for young children I was worried about the choking danger of boiled lollies so I improvised with my trusty piping bag.
To make a number cake such as this take some grease proof or baking paper, trace the number required, cut out the shape (remember to cut out a separate triangle for the centre of the four, circle for the six and nine and two circles for the eight), place it on you iced cake and press the hundreds and thousands into the icing. You will need to press reasonably firmly so the hundreds and thousands stay where you want them and do not roll around on the cake and spoil the edges of your number. To decorate the side of the cake you need to take hand fulls of hundreds and thousands and press them onto the side of the cake. I would recommended doing this while the baking paper is still on the top, in order to protect the cake surface. WARNING: this is VERY, VERY messy. I ran out of hundreds and thousand so I went for a swirly, random effect on the side of this cake, so there were patches of plain icing and patches of colour. The end product looked OK and all kids love as many hundreds and thousands as they can get, so the extra ones on the edge were well received.
I used my fail safe chocolate cake recipe for both of these cakes. I used to use a butter cake for kids parties but found some of the children did not like it so I use one that they all seem to like now.
125g/4 oz of softened butter
125g/4 oz of softened butter
1 cup/250g/8 oz caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups/155g/5 oz self-raising flour
1/2 cup/45g/1 1/2 oz cocoa powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup/250 mls/ 8 fl oz milk
Before you start grease and line your tin and turn on the oven. I always forget to turn on the oven to heat up and then realise half way through making the cake batter. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla extract together until the butter changes to a slightly paler yellow colour. I prefer to use vanilla extract or vanilla bean pods over vanilla essence as it gives the cake a nicer flavour. They do cost a bit more but are well worth the money for the flavour the impart. Add the eggs and beat until the mixture becomes paler still and increases in volume slightly. Dissolve the bi-carbonate of soda in the milk. Sift you flour and cocoa into a bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture one third at a time, together with one third of the milk. Beat and scrape down the sides of the bowl between each 'batch'. Beat the mixture for about 30 seconds on high and then transfer it to your tin. Bake in a 180*C/350*F oven for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean with no cake batter stuck to it.
Once the cake has cooled enough to handle and safely remove it from the tin place the warm cake on a plate and wrap it in glad wrap/cling film and put it in the fridge. I refrigerate the cake overnight. Remembering to take it out of the fridge after about two hours and check for condensation under the cling film or this will pool on the plate and possibly make the edges of the cake soggy. By placing the cake in the fridge it gives the cake a fudgy consistency and makes for a very moist cake which will keep well for a few days in the fridge before you need to ice it.
I never have time in one day to bake a cake, wait for it to cool and then ice it, so I always bake my cakes at least one day in advance to prevent MCDS, which is of course the most common affliction to effect Mums the world over. MCDS or Mummy Cake Decorating Stress, is a direct result of BPB (Birthday Party Pressure) and I have learnt over the years that in order to avoid this dreadful affliction cakes are best planned well in advance, all ingredients shopped for (not on the day - as I learnt the hard way!) and all willing little helpers safely at school or asleep. Thus endth the lesson.
Make you cakes always rise grasshopper (if they are supposed to that is) :)