Thursday 14 April 2016

Book Cake

First things first, I really need to learn to pipe. I scrawl like a 3-year old.

This was a cake that I did with fairly little planning, and the end result shows that. Gill has been running a book group for the last 7 years, so when she mentioned she was going to buy cakes for their next meeting, I stepped in and offered to bake one instead...only it was the next day, so I sort of had to think on the fly.

The basic concept was a cake baked in a tray-bake tin, then make a sheet of chocolate ganache to bend round it, and pipe in lines to represent pages. Finally I'd pipe some icing onto the top for the book "cover".

The cake bit was easy...I'd made a chocolate and cherry cake a few days previously, and it was lovely, but the chocolate didn't really come out, so I swapped the sponge for an almond one. Other than that it was a simple tray bake. I've never done a sheet of set ganache before, and that was...educational. The mixture was a 2:1 chocolate:cream mixture, using 50% cooking chocolate. Making the ganache was simple...after that my plan was to spread it into a large rectangle on some greaseproof paper, allow it to set, and then fold it round the cake. I made 2 mistakes;
1) I over-spread the chocolate, so it was weak in a few places
2) I didn't quite let the cake cool enough (rushing things!)

So when I was peeling back the paper from the ganache (fortunately I did the bottom of the book first) the ganache had softened, and stuck to the paper. The emergency remedy for this was to place freezer packs directly onto the paper, which quick-set the ganache, and I was able to get the "book cover" on. Piping the pages was messy, and I possibly should have done it when the cover was underneath. I ended up running a fork round to get the lines, rather than piping them.

The writing is just awful. I ran out of space on "year", and I kept pressing down. I sort of know you should let the icing fall onto the cake, but it's quite fiddly to do in practice.

The end result was OK, but I had hoped I could do something a little more elegant. It tasted lovely (possibly a bit more almond was needed).

Book Cake - Recipe

  • Pre-heat oven to 150'C
  • Grease and line a 20 x 30cm traybake tin

Cake Ingredients

  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 200g softened butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 4 eggs
  • A few drops of almond essence
  • 1 tin of black cherries
1) Drain the tin of cherries, and place the cherries on a piece of kitchen towel. Gently pat them dry

2) Place the rest of the ingredients in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment

3) Mix the batter until smooth and combined (but only just)

4) Pour the batter into the prepared tin, and level

5) Press the cherries into the batter evenly across the entire cake

6) Bake the cake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean

7) Remove from the oven, and allow to cool completely (it's even worth putting it in the fridge)

Ganache Ingredients

  • 300g plain (50%) chocolate
  • 150g double cream
1) Break the chocolate up into small chunks, and place in a large heatproof bowl

2) Put the cream in a small pan, and heat very gently until just starting to boil

3) Pour the cream onto the chocolate, and leave for 1 minute

4) Stir/whisk the chocolate and cream until the chocolate is completely melted, and you have a glossy, smooth mixture (you might need to slightly warm the bowl to finish melting the chocolate... I do this by putting the bowl in a slightly larger bowl with some tap-hot water only want to apply gentle heat)

5) Pour the ganache onto a large sheet of greaseproof paper

6) Using a palette knife, spread the ganache out to a rectangle ~34cm x 50cm

7) Leave to set completely


  • 100g softened butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • Splash of milk
1) Beat the butter, sugar and milk together to form a soft buttercream icing

2) Spread a small amount of the buttercream on one end of the ganache, in an area just smaller than the cake

3) place the cake on the patch of buttercream, square to the edge of the rectangle

4) Pipe a small amount of buttercream along the "spine" of the cake, and a small amount on top

5) Fold the ganache over the cake, and press down.

6) Gently peel back the greaseproof paper from the top of the cake (at this point, if there are any issues, I would suggest ice-packs to quick-chill the ganache, making the removal of the cake easier

7) Place a display board on top of the cake, and flip it over

8) Remove the greaseproof paper from the other side (and be really careful here, as this is the top side!)

9) Pipe buttercream around the 3 open sides of the cake, and run a fork through to resemble pages

10) Using a smaller nozzle, pipe wording on top of the cake.