Last week my fiancé found a new baking project for me by asking me to make a cake for a group who were being confirmed in his church. As they were all adults he asked for something that looked quite traditional, but gave me free reign of what to do on the inside. As it was for a big group of people I decided not to have fun with different flavours as I was worried about allergies, and just fussy people, but still found a way to make the inside of the cake quite exciting. I did some searching around and found ideas from Richard Burrs (from Great British Bake Off) over at richardburr.london and pinterest of course. So what I ended up with was a Confirmation Polka-Dot Rainbow Piñata Cake.
The first step was making some cake pops. Fortunately I have a cake pop maker and one batch of mix makes 24 pops so I had plenty. It’s just a basic cake mix with 1 egg, then the batter goes into individual moulds in the maker, about 1 teaspoon in each, and after about 5 minutes you have little balls of cake.
The next step was the sponge, I just used Delia Smith’s all-in-one sponge cake recipe, which is really quick and easy and made 2 batches. The recipe can be found on deliaonline.com, but I took it from her Complete Cookery book. I wanted to make 4 layers so made 2 batches and weighed the mixing bowl before and after making it to make sure I had exactly half. Maybe a bit excessive but I’m rubbish at guessing. I used a slightly smaller tin than Delia suggests because I wanted the layers slightly deeper to cover the cake pops. When each batch was in half I coloured them different colours- red, blue, green and yellow, and put 6 cake pops into each tin then the batter around it. I found with the colouring that normal shop bought blue and yellow were fine if you used the entire bottle, green didn’t come out very well at all, and the gel red was fine but always takes more than I’m expected. The layers when baked come out looking like this:
You need to even off the top of the layers before you start to assemble the cake otherwise you’ll be able to see massive gaps around the outside. To sandwich the layers I used a basic vanilla frosting recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery book, which is basically just milk, icing sugar and vanilla essence. Make sure you sieve the icing sugar though or it will be lumpy. For the icing you can pretty much just use your own favourite butter icing or frosting recipe. If you’re going for different flavours in the layers then you’ll need to think about what will go with all of them and now overpower them.
This stage of assembly is also important because it’s when you add in the piñata. I decided to just use one layer of cake to fill, but with 4 layers you could use two if you wanted more sweets. I used a biscuit cutter to make a circular hole in the middle of my second layer, then put icing onto the first layer as normal, put icing onto the ring of the second layer, and filled the hole with M&Ms before putting the third layer on. This means that you can’t see the chocolate from the outside, but when you cut into the cake it will all spill out.
So you finish assembling all the layers, ice around the outside of the cake- I used a palette knife for this as the cake was so tall- then you can come on to decorating the outside. I went for a fairly simple but still quite time consuming design of a silhouette of a cross from sugar butterflies, which I bought from Co-op. The first job was covering the cake with a layer of fondant icing- again, shop bought as I just didn’t have time to make it. I bought 2 packets as I expected to need lots, but only ended up using one. My original plan was to roll the icing big enough to drape over the top of the cake, but my kitchen counter wasn’t big enough, so instead I had to cover the top and sides separately, which made it look a bit messy. I smoothed it over with an icing smoother but you could still see the join where the top met the sides in places.
When it was covered I very gently scratched the shape of a cross into the top of the cake, then made some thin icing with icing sugar and water, and set about the slow task of sticking all the butterflies onto the top and sides of the cake. It took about half an hour, but I got there in the end and then just finished the cake with some blue ribbon around the bottom, secured with a pin.
Unfortunately I couldn’t be there to actually cut the cake as it was a Sunday and I was at my own church, but I’ve been told that people were impressed, and there was a second round as they tried to work out how the spots got into the cake. If I made it again I would probably be a bit more adventurous with flavours, particularly as you have the opportunity of making the cake pops a different flavour to the rest of the cake, as well as the layers. For a first try though I was happy with what came out.