Nothing says “Happy Birthday” like a tentacled cake, at least if the person you're making it for really loves octopuses!
This is a really dense, chocolate filled cake which even if you don't double the entire amount of ingredients, like I did, will be enough for at least 10 party guests.
Step 1: Getting Started
Tools you will need during the entire baking process:
Food blender (or small mixer)
Bowls of different sizes
1-2 Cooking pans
2 baking pans (20-30 centimeters in diameter depending on how large you plan the cake layers to be. In order to make it easier for you, I've made this recipe for the smaller version. If you want a large cake, just double everything)
Silicone baking mat
Small painting brush
Ingredients for the cake:
All measures here will be in metrical units, but if you're not used to that, you may use this handy online converter.
200 g butter
0,3 litres muscovado sugar (the light brown kind)
0,1 litres light baking syrup (if you're insecure of what kind to use, try to find something like this)
0,3 litres of milk
0,5 litres of flour
0,15 litres of high quality cocoa
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
A pinch of salt
200 g dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa)
Turn on the oven, set it to 180°C (that's 356°F)
Mix butter, sugar and syrup in a big bowl until you get a creamy substance.
Separate the eggs. Put the egg yolks in one bowl and the whites in another. Blend the yolks into the batter.
Blend all the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking, vanilla sugar, ginger and salt) in another bowl and carefully add this flour mix and the milk to the batter. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a cooking pan with boiling hot (but not boiling) water. This will prevent the chocolate from getting grainy or burned.
Whisk the egg whites until they turn into a white foam, then blend them with the rest of the batter.
Pour the batter into the greased and floured baking pans.
Bake in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes. When the cake layers are ready, take them out of the oven and allow them to cool thoroughly. If not, they risk to break when you remove them from the pans. However, should they break or crack slightly, there's still no need to call it a failure, as you'll most likely be able to “glue” them back together with the frosting, which is the next step...
Step 2: Making the Frosting
For the frosting you will need:
0,3 litres of cream (40% fat)
250 g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
1 teaspoon of butter
Chop the chocolate into small pieces.
Heat the cream until boiling. When boiling, immediately turn off the heat. Take the pan from the stove, add the chocolate and butter and stir until the chocolate is molten and everything is properly blended. The end result is supposed to look like on the second photo.
Step 3: Cover the Layers
Cover the bottom layer with the frosting, put the second layer on top of the bottom layer and cover the whole thing with frosting.
If you don't want to make the sugar paste immediately, you may store the cake in the fridge for at least a couple of days as long as you protect it from absorbing taste and/or smell from other foodstuff you may have in the fridge.
Step 4: Making the Sugar Paste
1 tablespoon of gelatin powder
4 tablespoons of cold water
30 g coconut butter
1 kg icing sugar
0,1 litres of white syrup
1 tablespoon rapseed oil
Food dye in colours of your choice
Sift 0,8 litres of icing sugar in a large bowl (save the rest for later).
Put the gelatin in a small cooking pan and add the cold water. Let it swell for a few minutes (the gelatin doesn't need to be completely dissolved). Pour water into another pan, heat until boiling and then sink the pan with the gelatin and water into the hot water. Let the mix melt slowly and then add the coconut butter and stir until everything is melted.
Add the molten stuff and white syrup to the icing sugar and mix it, either with your hands or using a food blender. It will be very sticky, but fear not - it's time to take out the baking mat.
Pour some icing sugar onto the baking mat and knead the sugar paste thoroughly. Successively add more icing sugar until the dough is firm enough. Add the rapseed oil at the end of the process; this will make the sugar paste soft and easy to work with. You may not have to use an entire kilogram of icing sugar so be careful when adding it and don't use more than what's needed in order for the sugar paste not to be sticky.
Divide the dough in three parts: One to roll out and cover the cake, one for the tentacles and one small part to make the suction cups.
Adding the food colouring
Do not add the dye directly into the dough because the more dye you add the more icing sugar you'll need. Also it will be messy and if you want the cake black like the one I made, the sugar paste will rather become grey when adding the food dye. I'd rather recommend that you paint the dye on, using a new and clean brush.
Step 5: Dressing the Cake
Roll the first lump of sugar paste until it's large enough to cover the entire cake. Make sure to make it very thin. The sugar paste will show tendencies of breaking if you're not careful when you lift it from the baking mat, but in order to prevent this, you may hang a the sheet on your lower arms, or simply ask someone to help you (which is a luxury that I didn't have).
Cover the cake with the sugar paste sheet and smoothen it out with your hands. Use a knife to cut off excessive paste.
If you want to colour it, now is the time to take out that brush and paint!
Step 6: Making the Tentacles
Okay, now for the easy, but a bit time demanding, part.
Take the second lump of sugar paste and form tentacles of different sizes and length. Paint them with food colouring of your choice.
For the suction cups, you'll need to form rolls of the remaining, non coloured, sugar paste. Cut the rolls thin (2-3 millimeters) and place them on the tentacles. Use the chopstick to make the holes in the suction cups. Punching the holes through the suction cups will also help them stay in place.
Step 7: Congratulations - You Have an Octocake!
For the final step, put the tentacles where you want them to be on the cake before serving it.
The cake can be stored in the fridge up to at least four days before serving and will still be good and tasty!
If you have any questions concerning the recipes or the baking process, feel free to contact me.