Does anyone else remember the British magazine Smash Hits*? It was awesome, stuffed to the gills with music and pop-culture news, and incredibly funny. The style was a ridiculous mash-up of softcore Douglas Adams meets Monty Python, and many of their centerfold posters graced my teenaged bedroom wall.
This kind of reminiscing makes me feel that I should check myself into a museum. And it doesn’t help that – wait for it, wait for it – oh cringe – my younger sister turned 30. How very dare she!!
In (grudging) honour of her birthday I wanted to do something different because of course everyone is a Cake Boss nowadays, keen to show off their rainbow cakes/checkerboard cakes/Banting cakes/7-foot-tall cakes with moving parts and an integrated dishwasher. It becomes a massive competition between guests, and I’d like to say that I have matured above such things. But I have not. I wanted my contribution to fulfil several functions:
- present the gift (a sparkly ring) in a beautiful way – fabulous presentation can make even the most dismal gift seem exciting.
- be interactive. It’s fun to play with food. Peelable ice-cream, 3D cookie puzzles, edible string for cats – yay!
- be tasty. In all the my-cake-is-better-than-yours-ness it seems that the taste is usually neglected.
The solution? A smash cake, also known as a piñata cake, currently doing the round for kids’ first birthdays on Facebook and Pinterest. It has been my dream for several years to create a smash cake, and I was fortunate in finding a silicon “giant cupcake baking kit” at Home Stuff. Now that I know it works as the PERFECT mould for a chocolate smash cake, it will never darken the oven doors. In case you can’t find a similar cupcake shape – I also spotted a fluted silicon jelly mould and a dome-shape jelly mould which would have worked fine together.
So I packed my suitcase with the moulds and a large supply of caramel and strawberry flavoured baking chocolate (it’s not gross! Just don’t go expecting it to taste like the Swiss or Belgian stuff). I spent several hours carefully crafting the smash cake, including the Sonya biscuits which would be hidden in the centre with jelly sweets and the ring. Most of the time was spent having stern talks with the butter needed for the biscuits, which was frozen solid and extremely uncooperative in the Cape Town cold.
I made the bottom part of the smash cake relatively sturdy, so that it wouldn’t collapse under the weight of its contents. After carefully melting the chocolate in the microwave I let it cool so that it could be swirled around the inside of the mould while it thickened, forming a decent layer.
I need to refine the technique for the edges of the two parts, and for the “grouting” between the two parts after filling (don’t forget to fill the cake before sticking the parts together with chocolate!). By this stage in the process I had already had a few fortifying G&T’s and didn’t care too much about the rough edges, so wrapped it loosely with tissue paper, cellophane and a large bow. It’s all about the presentation. I also carefully wrapped a bottle of pink Moet, to escalate the gift to it’s utmost awesomeness.
At last the big moment arrived, and my sister ripped off the giftwrap to reveal my life’s work – only to misunderstand the instructions (“I thought it was hollow!”) and punch with her full weight into the top of the cake, hurting her hand.
She then unwrapped the Moet and casually dismissed it, not having read the label. I heard earlier today that it is being stored in her fridge “next to the apples and the cucumber”. I responded by saying that it deserves to be kept alongside caviar and Louboutins:
Happy 30th, Caryn! It was a smash hit!
Next year – balloon cake?