Although it’s not the Jam’s birthday until tomorrow, he had a (girl)friend over to play this afternoon so we decided to have cake today. I spent most of yesterday making and decorating it and it’s not the most professional looking cake ever. I could have bought one for less than it cost to buy all the equipment and ingredients, but that isn’t the point – I made it, for my boy, because I love him. Also, the actual cake under the icing was far nicer than the bland sponge in most shop-bought novelty cakes.
The Jam isn’t that keen on plain sponge, so I made chocolate gingerbread sponge. The first challenge was deciding how much to make as I wasn’t following a particular recipe or template. I’d gathered and synthesised ideas from several hours of Google searches on “fire engine cake” (over two million hits!) but I knew I need three identical loaf cakes. My sponge recipe suggested a 30×20 tin so I thought three 10×20 loaf tins would be ideal.
Lesson One – 10×20 loaf tins do not exist.
Eventually I found a silicone loaf pan (I know that’s an American term, but surely you can’t call silicone a “tin”) that was almost the right size and bright red. I bought three. I’ve not used silicone bakeware before so I was a bit worried it would all spill when I lifted it up, but it went into and came out of the oven without an incident. I’d done my research (Google again) so I knew that I didn’t need to line or grease the pans and that I had to let it cool before removing it.
Lesson Two – you DO need to grease the pan.
Lesson Three – cool means stone cold.
After some emergency surgery to correct what was lost in the pans, the fun bit began. I’d bought red ready-roll icing, but I thought I’d colour the vanilla buttercream too in case it showed through.
Lesson Four – even gel food colouring only makes a really vibrant pink.
Once I’d smoothed, moulded, filled and trimmed the icing, I only had to add the details – Oreo cookies (wheels), liquorice wheels (hose), mints (headlights) and a Curly-Wurly (the ladder). Most ideas were from the extensive research but I’m proud to claim the Curly-Wurly as an inspired moment of my own – I wasn’t even sure they still existed! I think it turned out well, not perfect but made with love, and it tasted really good too.
Lesson Five – little boys love “nee-nah cake” .