The other day my daughter and I were messing around with some M& M’s and we stuck them all over a cake. It looked very cool, but was not really very ‘me’. So we both racked our brains and came up with Maltesers as a worthy substitute! This cake is one of those ‘faster’ cakes, rather than ‘fast’, but the all-in-one sponge is a bung-it-all-in-and-go method, which makes things a lot easier. The great thing that is not the quickest is sticking on the Malteser balls, but give your child (or a willing adult) the Maltesers and let them stick the little balls on to their heart’s content.
Prep time: 15 minutes, plus 25 minutes to cool and 20 minutes to decorate
Time baking in the oven: 25–30 minutes
Serves: 8–10 Equipment: 2 × 20cm loose-bottomed sandwich tins, large baking sheet, large bowl and hand-held electric whisk (or freestanding electric mixer), wire rack, medium bowl and microwave or medium pan, fine sieve Sponge
150g really soft butter, plus a little extra for greasing
250g caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
125g sour cream
4 medium eggs (at room temperature)
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt ½ vanilla pod (or a couple of drops of vanilla extract)
100g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
550g icing sugar
250g really soft butter
2 tbsp milk (or water) To decorate
4 × 135g packets of brown or white Maltesers
+ Preheat the oven to 180 ° C, (fan 160 ° C), 350 ° F, Gas Mark 4, with the middle shelf at the ready. Grease the sandwich tins with a little butter, line the bottoms with discs of baking parchment and sit them on a large baking sheet.
+ Put the butter, sugar, flour, sour cream, eggs, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large bowl or in a freestanding electric mixer or a food processor. Split the vanilla pod open, scrape out the seeds and add them also (or the vanilla extract). Then mix or blend to give a smooth, soft mixture.
+ Divide evenly between the cake tins, smooth the tops and place in the oven for 25–30 minutes.
+ To check the cakes are baked, insert a skewer into the middle of each cake and if it comes out clean, then they are ready to come out. Remove them from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes before carefully removing and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack (about 25minutes).
+ When the cakes are almost cool, start making the buttercream. Break the chocolate into a medium bowl and melt it in the microwave in 30-second blasts, stirring between each blast. Otherwise, sit the bowl of chocolate on a medium pan of simmering water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl (as this may make the chocolate grainy).
+ Sift the icing sugar into the electric mixer or processor bowl (or large bowl if doing by hand). If I use a food mixer or processor for this, I don’t worry about sifting it as the blade will do a good job of blending any lumps out. Add the butter and milk (or water) and beat until it is really light and fluffy. You will need to do this like mad if blending by hand. Then pour in the melted chocolate, stirring all the time.
+ Sit one of the cakes on a serving plate or cake stand. I often put a little dollop of buttercream underneath the sponge so that the cake does not move around. Then put about a third of the buttercream on and spread it around. Then sit the other sponge on top and spread the remaining buttercream all over so it is completely covered. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Doing this is a great excuse to get nice and messy.
+ Once you have covered the cake, and of course yourself, suitably in chocolate, take the Maltesers and stick them all over the cake. I am pedantic about this as I want the malt balls to be in strict rows, so I start at the base of the cake and then go in a line, up the sides, over the top and down the other side. I am not ashamed to say that rulers have been used in the decorating of this cake for a super-sharp line! Line them up nice and tight with no gaps.
+ Once the cake is covered, carry to the table and serve.