It was The Boy’s birthday on Friday and all he asked for was an “epic cake.” I always make him a birthday cake, so that was no big deal, but having it prefixed with the word epic made the task slightly more daunting.
I love baking, but presentation isn’t always my strongest point – I value taste over looks!
The Boy is a big fan of 4WDing (and I’ve played dutiful partner and tagged along before), so I decided to give him a 4WD themed cake. In the end it wasn’t hard, we just ended up with massive amounts of cake. Like, three tiers of cake. I know what I’ll be eating for the next week…
If you’ve got a friend or loved one who likes 4WD-ing, have a go at this cake – it’s fun, a little bit silly and oh-so-delicious!
2 chocolate tray cakes:
- 4 ½ cups sugar
- 400g butter
- 6 eggs
- 6 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups milk
- 6 cups plain flour
- 6 tsp bicarb
- 2 cups cocoa
- 2 ½ cup strong coffee
(adapted from my rich chocolate cake)
- 5 cups icing sugar
- 400g butter
- 1 ½ cups Nutella
- 110g dark chocolate, melted
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp cocoa
(inspired by Sweetapolita’s icing)
- 5 edible trees
- 2 Twirls
- Chocolate raisins
- Chocolate sprinkles
- Gummy bears
- Toy 4WD
Grease two 33 x 23cm baking tray and line the bases with a strip of baking paper. Preheat your oven to 160°.
Make your coffee (I used 2 tsp of instant coffee per cup of boiling water) and set it to one side. Cream butter and sugar together until pale. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Mix in your milk, followed by the flour and bicarb. Lastly, add in the cocoa and coffee. Mix well and give the bottom of the bowl a scrape to ensure that the cocoa reaches all of the mixture.
Pour half of the mixture into each of your prepared trays and bake for 50-60 minutes. If you’ve not got two baking trays, don’t worry, just bake the cakes one at a time. Rotate the cakes and switch positions in the oven at 30 minutes to ensure they cook as evenly as possible.
When they’re cooked, the top of the cake should also spring back lightly when you press it.
While the cakes are cooling, whip the icing together. Beat the butter and half of the icing sugar together until combined. Add the rest of the icing sugar and mix well. Add in the Nutella, then the melted chocolate and mix until evenly coloured. Finally, add in the vanilla and cocoa, then mix until it is even and slightly glossy. Set to one side and prepare to slather it on your cooled cakes!
Ensure that your cakes are entirely cooled before icing. To achieve the 4WD track like I have done, take a bread knife and level out the tops of the cakes. So that they’re flat. One tray cake will be your base, leave that as it is. Take the second cake, the one which will be the tiers, and make a cut 2/3 of the way down it. The 2/3 slice will be your middle tier, the 1/3 will be your top tier.
Take a spatula and ice the bottom tier entirely. Try and keep the icing about 1cm thick on the top, but slightly thinner down the sides, as this will give it a bit of a naked cake look, which works well with the dirty, outdoorsy look. This also means that your approach to icing doesn’t have to be perfect, which is fabulous!
Take your middle tier (the 2/3 piece) and place it on the left of the base so that both tiers create a flush side. Ice the second tier and then place the final tier on top of it. Ice the final tier.
Take a small, sharp knife and cut a rough inverted pyramid shape out of the top tier. Do the same to the second tier, but about half the size. Take a spoon and scrape away at the cuts until you have two rounded , graduated chunks out of your cake – they should start to look like a track.
Concentrate some chocolate sprinkles around the track that you’ve just cut out to give it definition, then scatter them round the rest of the cake randomly. Pop a few chocolate raisins on to look like rocks/boulders and snap your Twirls in half and make them look like logs. I also crushed the end of one of my logs and scattered it nearby.
Place your trees around the track and nestle some gummy bears in there as well. Finally, place your 4WD at a ridiculous angle to make it look like it’s tackling the impossible track that you’ve just created it!