Today is a sad day in our office, as one of our much loved colleagues is leaving to take up a new role. She is moving to a popular swimwear company, jokes about budgie smugglers have been rife since the news broke, and I wanted to bake something to send her off in style!
I stumbled across a video tutorial the other week from Woodland Bakery for a leopard print cake – inside, not just out, and my mind was firmly set.
Using a classic Madeira cake recipe for firm-ness, I split it into 1/3:2/3 to add the colours and the flavour. The large portion, two thirds, I flavoured with lemon (and left without colour), to the remaining third I added a tablespoon of cocoa powder. Dividing the now chocolate portion in half again, I added a second tablespoon of cocoa powder to one half, giving a darker brown. They all then went into piping bags ready to go into the cake tin.
I used my number and letter cake pan to create the shape of the trunks – using a paper template to block out the sections that weren’t needed, so I’d not have to carve too much off to create the final shape. First to go in was a whole layer of the base colour / lemon cake:
Then the start of the leopard print – thick swirls and stripes of the dark brown chocolate batter, spread across the area of the cake, to give each slice a little bit of ‘leopard’!
Over the top of this, a smaller, thinner line of the lighter chocolate batter:
Sealing in the light brown with a layer of the dark chocolate:
Then filling in around the sides and in between the chocolate mixtures (so the whole cake was level at this point):
Another complete layer of lemon:
Now the tutorial only had one layer of leopard spots, but I wanted mine to be vertical in the cake as well as horizontal. Plus I had quite a lot of batter left in the piping bags! So I added another layer of the chocolate mixtures:
And finally one last layer of lemon filling in the sides and across the top. Without a doubt the longest time it has ever taken me to fill a cake tin!
It only took about 40 minutes to bake as the pan is relatively shallow, coming out a lovely golden brown and nice and firm for carving.
Then onto the carving – and I was so happy to see the first signs of leopard print as I sliced down the sides. Success!
A little more carving around the sides and top (the irony of what I was carving was not lost on me!)…
… before covering with a lemon buttercream and light orange fondant. A minor disaster occurred just after I’d finished – a rouge packet of fondant fell out of the cupboard, landing right in the middle of the cake and causing a huge dent! Screaming ensued, Rob helped me peel the damaged fondant off and I started again. Groan! Hence why the fondant looks a little dry and cracked – it didn’t really appreciate being worked and rolled twice (nor did I appreciate doing it!)
The leopard print decoration was seemingly simple but a little time consuming. Using watered-down food colours, I painted abstract circle and round patterns all across the cake in a darker brown…
… before filling in the centres with a lighter, tan brown.
Once this was dry I piped a (slightly shaky) speedo logo using plain white icing.
The finished cake – a true pair of budgie smugglers if I’ve ever seen one!
I added a final finishing touch with a piped chocolate message (shaky again, must practice my piping!):
Cutting into the cake – not quite as leopard-y as I’d hoped? But still sticky and spotty, and as always in our office very quickly devoured.
Take care Toni, we really will miss you!
Update – May 2014 – I’m so pleased to say that this cake came runner-up in Renshaw Baking’s Cake Catwalk Competition. A classic leopard print never goes out of fashion!