Monday, 21 October 2013

Variations on a Theme: Surfing Toffee Tray Cake (Wheat Free)

Earlier this year I was appointed as the youth worker in my church, which means now I'm in charge of designing, maintaining and running the youth group for the young people in my church and the surrounding churches in our circuit. I host a youth group every second Monday, where we have tea and biscuits and do team activities.

This week we had a surfing themed evening because the leader of our church's surfing mission was giving a talk. To fit in with the evening, I made some sea themed cakes.

I also took this opportunity to try out my new recipe for 'fail safe' boiled fondant icing, and it worked a charm. However, the weather was very overcast so the sugar boiling took a few goes to stop crystallising.

Before I started my surfing themed cakes I thought about how I'd decorate them, then I remembered that the Natural Confection Company does sea creature gummies, which would make very quick and convenient sea themed decorations for the cakes. The whole fairy cake versus tray bake conundrum was not a challenge for me: I infinitely prefer tray bakes to fairy cakes. I've never been a fairy cakes person, honestly.

I decided to play it safe and simple with the flavours because they were for teens and tweens who tend to be fickle and unadventurous. I settled on a toffee flavoured sponge with a simple vanilla icing; I thought the blue colour and the little sea creatures would be the main things, as children tend to get excited more about interesting visual things than interesting flavour combinations.

The texture of the cake was spot on, and it was deliciously moist and tender. I cooked the tray cake at a slightly lower oven temperature to get it to rise more evenly and bulge less in the centre; it worked quite well.

Overall, I think this little venture worked out brilliantly. I often overlook the advantages of using premade sweeties for decoration, and I think I'll keep an eye out for themed sweeties any more.  The children really enjoyed them, anyway, which is the most important thing.

  • Make one 7x9 inch (17x24 centimeter) toffee sponge cake following this recipe, using 4 ounces (115 grammes) of soft brown sugar and ½ an ounce (15 grammes) golden syrup in place of all the caster sugar. Bake as instructed.
  • Once the cake is cooled completely, use either blue butter cream icing or blue pouring fondant to cover the top of the cake. Streak to make it look like waves.
  • Arrange 16 sea creature sweets on the top in a grid, and allow to set completely for about 2 hours at room temperature.
  • Cut the cake into 16 pieces using a bread knife in a long sawing motion.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

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