Leopard Print Surprise Cake
Preparation time 11/2 hours plus cooling and chilling - Baking time 25-30mins - Serves 10-12
For the vanilla batter:
- 325g butter, softened
- 350g caster sugar
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 eggs, large
- 400g self raising flour, sifted
- 300ml milk
For the chocolate batter:
- 3 tbsp cocoa, sifted
- Brown gel paste food colouring
- For the strawberry batter:
- 50g strawberries
- 2 tbsp corn flour
- Pink gel paste food colouring
- For the frosting:
- 185g white chocolate
- 100g strawberries
- 280g butter
- 475g icing sugar, sifted
- 1kg pink sugarpaste
- 30g black sugarpaste
- Grease three 20cm round deep cake tins and line the bases with baking paper. For the vanilla batter, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla extract then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
- Fold in 1/3 of the flour followed by 1/3 of the milk and mix well. Repeat two more times until all the flour and milk is fully incorporated. Place 100g of the vanilla cake batter into the base of each prepared tin and spread thinly using the back of spoon.
- For the chocolate batter, place 500g of the remaining vanilla cake batter in a bowl and beat in the cocoa. Stir in brown gel food colouring a little at a time until the mixture is dark brown. Transfer to a large disposable piping bag.
- For the strawberry batter, place the strawberries into a blender and blitz into a purée. Place 100g of the remaining vanilla cake batter into a bowl, add the corn flour and strawberry purée and mix well. Stir in a little pink gel food colouring if desired then transfer to a disposable piping bag. Place the remainder of the vanilla cake batter in another disposable piping bag.
- To create the leopard print effect in the cake layers, snip a small amount from the tip of the piping bag containing the chocolate batter. Pipe a large ‘c’ shape of chocolate batter in one of the cake tins, on top of the vanilla batter, so it curves approx 3/4 of the way around the tin 3-4cm from the edge. Pipe over the ‘c’ shape a few times to make it wider but working in towards the centre so the chocolate batter does not touch the edges of the tin. Repeat in each of the other two prepared tins.
- Pipe a small ‘c’ shape between the beginning and end of the first shape making sure you leave room between them so you have two separate ‘c’ shapes, one large and one small. Repeat in each of the other two prepared tins.
- Pipe two more ‘c’ shapes inside the first two ensuring they are two separate shapes that are not touching each other or the first two shapes and leave enough room between them to allow for spreading. Pipe two more smaller ‘c’ shapes in the centre ensuring they are separate shapes with room for spreading. Repeat in each of the other two prepared tins.
- Cut the end from the piping bag containing the vanilla batter and pipe the batter between the chocolate shapes. Snip a small amount from the end of the bag containing the strawberry batter and pipe along the middle of the chocolate shapes. Repeat in each of the other two prepared tins.
- Enclose the strawberry sections by firstly piping around them and then over the top with the chocolate batter. Finally, fill in between the sections with vanilla batter. Repeat in each of the other two prepared tins. If you have excess vanilla batter at the end you can pipe this over the top of batter in the tins.
- Towards the end of filling the tins preheat the oven to 180˚C/160˚C fan/gas mark 4. Bake for 25-30 mins until lightly golden and the cakes have slightly shrunk away from the sides of the tin. Allow to cool in the tins for 5 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the frosting, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Place the strawberries in a blender and blitz into a purée. Beat the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the melted white chocolate and strawberry purée and beat well until evenly combined.
- To assemble the cake, place one cake on a cake board and spread some frosting on top. Place another cake on top, cover with frosting and add the final cake on top. Cover the sides of the cake and then the top with a thin layer of the remaining frosting and smooth with a palette knife. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
- For the decoration, knead the pink sugarpaste until soft and pliable. Lightly dust your work surface with icing sugar then roll out the sugarpaste into a circle big enough to cover the top and sides of the cake. Cover the cake with the sugarpaste, smoothing the top and sides with your hands. Trim the excess sugarpaste around the bottom of the cake with a sharp knife.
- For the paw prints, take half of the black sugarpaste and divide it into ten equal portions. Mould each portion into a triangle with rounded corners then flatten to make the main paw pad. Roll 40 small balls out of the remainder of the black sugarpaste and flatten each one to create the smaller pads. Arrange on the cake as shown using one large pad and four small ones for each paw print. Stick in place with edible glue or a little water and press gently to secure.
* You need to be conscious of how much batter you use as you create the leopard print effect. Use even amounts of batter in each tin to ensure you have sufficient to complete all three layers so work up the shapes conservatively to begin with.
* Remember that each ‘c’ shape will spread as the strawberry and extra chocolate batter is added and it is really important to allow enough room between them for spreading.