I recently found the courage to venture into my local library and into the cookery section. I often find myself coming out of the library with 14 new books that I have to lug back home. One of the books I found was, “Annie Bell’s Gorgeous Cakes”.
It had this amazing recipe for a Kiddies’ Dream Traybake, but I find that the bakes aimed at children give adults more pleasure because of their simplicity. It is a chocolate cake that is topped with a simple chocolate icing and decorated with a whole manner of chocolate sweets. It bears a lot of resemblance to those artificial shopbought birthday cakes but you have the satisfaction of knowing you made it yourself.
Cut up into individual squares is a unique twist on the recipe that makes for a more playful birthday; I haven’t actually found somebody who didn’t like this. I guarantee it will go down a storm in your house and be made time and time again as a family classic.
75g cocoa powder
200ml boiling water
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
370g light brown sugar
180ml vegetable oil (or any flavourless oil such as sunflower or groundnut)
200g self-raising flour
150g dark chocolate
3 tbsp milk
Assorted chocolate sweets (e.g. Smarties, M&MS etc), hundreds and thousands, silver balls etc.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a roasting tin, or a square loose based tin with baking parchment.
- Whisk the cocoa with the boiling water and the bicarbonate of soda. Leave to cool aside for 20 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and oil – note you don’t need to take it to the ribboning stage, but until well combined and thoroughly mixed – and then fold in the sifted flour. Add the liquid cocoa mixture and mix until well combined.
- Pour into the roasting/square tin and bake for 30 – 40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean and it springs back when pressed.
- For the icing, melt the chocolate with the milk over a bowl of simmering water, ensuring the bowl is not touching the water. Stir until the icing is smooth.
- Pour the icing over the cooled cake, using a palette knife to spread it evenly – the last thing you want is a child complaining how one has more icing than another. Let the icing set for 2 hours.
- Before it is completely set, pour over some chocolate coated hundreds and thousands and colourful chocolate sweets like Smarties or M&Ms.
- Cut into an appropriate number of squares for your birthday or party and top some with candles.