Scrip’s second birthday came and went and her biggest smile wasn’t reserved for her new toys, games with her little friends or big party tea – it was for her Peppa Pig cake. Which more than justified the hours I’ve spent researching the perfect recipe (moist but firm enough to shape), the best pink gel colouring (Dr. Oetker) and cartoon icing techniques. It really
wasn’t hard but I did allow myself time to get it right (most of Saturday, including other party prep in between). Anyway, here’s how I did it.
The recipe was this fab one here from all recipes – basically a large quantity which was really simple to mix and cooked at a low heat for a longer time. It served 12 adults and 3 toddlers with enough left over for party bags and to treat my long-suffering colleagues. The recipe worked really well and allowed me to prep other things in between, particularly icing. I used this adjustable tin bought from John Lewis which I found easy to use and allowed me to do a 20cm x 20cm cake – and may be a staple if celebration cakes become my forte (read ‘once a year’). As well as following the recipe to the letter, I also picked up these tips for creating the perfect celebration sponge in my (extensive) ‘desk’ research:
- Don’t be tempted to open the oven door before the minimum time – even to peep in. I waited 1 hour 15 mins for this one – and it was worth it.
- Always prep the tin beforehand so the cake mixture isn’t waiting around too long before going in the oven and always pre-heat the oven before you start so it’s definitely the right temperature.
- Make sure the cooked cake is completely cool before you start icing – I left mine in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a rack. Then carved it, then put it in the fridge to chill for an hour or so.
- Always do a ‘crumb layer’ (or frost layer) of icing before the final one. It may take a bit longer but it’s worth it as you seal in all the crumbs and have an easier job making the final layer smooth. There are various videos but this is an easy guide (I didn’t do the sandwich bit in the middle).
- Also use a separate bowl for your crumb layer tools and transfer with a clean spoon – to make sure crumbs don’t get back into the main bowl of icing for the second layer.
- Always chill the cake between layers of icing.
I used a double layer of grease proof paper to line the tin (a larger piece folded in half for the sides and two pieces for the bottom). I secured the sides with a paperclip and greased the paper before putting it all in. While the cake was cooking, I mixed the buttercream icing using this recipe from all recipes and some Dr. Oetker hot pink gel food colouring (less liquid than the normal kind but you do have to use quite a bit to get the right pink for Peppa). I whipped up the butter before mixing everything else in to make it nice and fluffy. There was ample icing there, which was good, in case of any mistakes. I set aside but didn’t put in the fridge and it stayed creamy all day.
Once the cake was out and cool I slice across the top with a knife to give a smooth base. Then I pinned my Peppa face template on top with a cocktail stick (well, actually a wooden skewer but same idea). I made my template by copying a picture from one of Scrip’s t-shirts (which was roughly the size I wanted) onto an A4 sheet – but there are also lots of websites where you can download Peppa colouring pictures.
I had to trim the design slightly when I put it on the cake, so used a lot of artistic licence. The most important thing was making sure the eyes, nostrils, ears and mouth were roughly the right size and in the right place so Peppa looked like herself! Once in place, I cut around the template with a sharp knife, making sure I cut straight down and not into the cake itself. Any little mistakes weren’t really a problem – I filled tiny gaps in with icing later. And I even made one of Peppa’s ears a bit longer by sticking an off-cut of cake on using some of the icing – it worked pretty well. I saved the off-cuts and iced them as extra slices of cake in case we ran out – but you can also use for trifle. I then popped the cake back in the fridge for a bit.
Once the cake was cool I layered on my crumb layer of buttercream using a big and small palette knife – the small one to do the detail. I dipped this in hot water to smooth the sides. I took inspiration from this icing technique – mine wasn’t quite as professional looking but this helped. I don’t have a turntable but it would have helped – but wasn’t essential. Then I chilled it again. An hour or so later, when the icing was stiff on the cake, I put on the top layer. Again I used the two palette knives (cleaned) and dipped one in hot water to smooth the top (be careful not to do this too much otherwise bits of the icing come out shiny). It wasn’t totally smooth but it was definitely good enough for a nice finish. I then put it in for another chill.
For Peppa’s face details, I used white fondant icing. Mine was Waitrose ready made and I found it nice and supple and easy to work with. Just don’t make the mistake of rolling out too early and leaving it or it becomes brittle. Try and do the majority just before you put it on the cake. I rolled it out on icing sugar to about the thickness of a £1 coin and cut around a shot glass (!) twice for the eyes. Then I coloured small lumps – one about the size of a small apple for the light pink edging, coloured with the pink gel. Then a smaller lump for the mouth, coloured with red gel, and even smaller for the pupils, coloured with black (I cut around a Calpol syringe for these!).
Once the colour was even, I rolled the pink edging into long thin sausage shapes, trying to make sure they were as even as possible, and put in place around the edge of the face and ears, letting bits overlap slightly where they do on Peppa’s face. I did it in stages and moulded the different bits together. I rolled out a smaller, thicker sausage shape for her red mouth and then put her eyes and pupils into place, finishing with pink edging.
Phew! I did it all the day before – giving myself time and space to make mistakes and letting my husband take Scrip out so she didn’t see or more importantly, run riot in the kitchen. Peppa calls for calm!
As well as Scrip’s happy little face, I also had lots of compliments on the texture and flavour of the cake, and it passed the acid Mother-In-Law test, so success all round I think. So there it is – I hope I’ve made it as simple as possible to follow and I hope you enjoy creating your own Peppas. Happy baking!
A lovely email just received – and a nice variation to make a chocolate sponge:
Thanks for Peppa Pig recipe. The plan worked well. The only change I made ŵas to swap an egg for 2 spoonfuls (dessert) of cocoa powder plus 2 spoons of boiling water. This made a chocolate sponge. More cocoa would have made a richer chocolate cake but experimented with this proportion and it worked!
Grandson’s 3rd birthday