chocolate birthday cake with smarties and sprinkles

Oooh – would you look at that. This site is one year old.

In blogging years (which are a bit like dog years, I think) that’s practically ancient.

Wow – well, let’s check the stats (the not-so-secret dirty pleasure of every blogger) and see what’s been happening around Bird Towers over the past 12 months:

Number of posts thus far:

114 – including this one.

The posts you liked best:

A little bit of what you fancy (banana bread)
Things that make you go mmmmmmm (gingerbread)
Daring Bakers Challenge for January – lemon meringue pie (I’ve been a bit remiss with my challenges lately but I’m back on the case with the next one, I promise!)

Interesting searches that got you here:

– What eats a bird
– A bird which eats stones in 5 minutes
– Fruit hurts my teeth
– Like tea birds sexy sites
– Recipes to blow up birds

I hope you all found what you were looking for. Except that last one. I mean, really? Seriously?

On another note, I’d just like to say thank you to everyone who has dropped by for a gander or said hello in the comments. It’s been a pleasure to meet you all. Long may the happy cooking and blogging continue 🙂

Right, on to the important stuff – cake. Let’s face it, a first birthday deserves a kids’ cake if we’re going to celebrate the whole thing properly.

This recipe comes from the aptly-named Gorgeous Cakes by Annie Bell. There are so many fabulous-looking confections in this book, my ‘to make asap’ list has grown several pages longer – banoffee cupcakes, red velvet bonfire cake, raspberry-mascarpone layer cake, chocolate prune cake, pistachio choc-chip meringues, fig streusel… then there’s all the cheesecakes… And Caroline made a mouth-watering lemon traybake from this book the other week, so that’s another one tagged to try.

But for my first bloggie birthday, I’m going to have to plump for the kiddies’ dream traybake. It’s got what every small (or grown-up) child would want to honour this kind of occasion: chocolate sponge, chocolate icing, and a liberal application of Smarties and sprinkles. Bring on the sugar rush…

Plus there’s a fun ‘magic/science’ bit when you add the bicarb of soda to the cocoa mix and it expands rapidly. It’s entertaining and edible. How many cakes manage that?

Kiddies’ dream traybake from Gorgeous Cakes by Annie Bell

Makes approx 20 squares (Hmmmmm – not in this house. We like big wodges of cake, so it makes about 12 slices.)

You’ll need:

For the cake:

75g cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 medium eggs
370g light muscovado sugar
180ml vegetable oil
200g self-raising flour, sifted

For the icing:

150g dark chocolate (about 50% cocoa solids)
3 tablespoons milk
Smarties (2 tubes) and sprinkles to decorate

1. Whisk the cocoa with 200ml of boiling water. Whisk in the bicarbonate of soda and leave to cool for about 20 minutes. (If you do this in a pint-sized measuring jug, the liquid will expand up to about the pint level.)

2. Preheat the oven to 160C (fan)/180C/gas mark 4 and grease a 23 x 30 x 4cm traybake tin. (There’s no need to line it unless you’re planning on turning the cake out whole.)

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and oil. Then stir in the flour, then the cocoa solution. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30-40 mins or until risen and firm, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and leave to cool.

4. To make the icing, gently melt the chocolate with the milk in a bowl set over a pan with a little simmering water in it, stirring until smooth. Using the back of a spoon or a palette knife, coat the surface of the cake. Scatter over some Smarties and sprinkles, and leave for a couple of hours to set. Cut into squares to serve.

Cook’s notes

If you think the big kids at work will like this, just leave it in the tray – makes it a lot easier to transport.

You could play around with this recipe a bit and add orange peel or maybe some peppermint essence for variety.