This post is dedicated to my dear friend, baker extrordinaire, Steph.
It’s a rare and special thing to find a friend you’d almost call your soul mate. But seriously, we can practically read each other’s minds sometimes. She is one of the most beautiful and creative people I know, and totally my favourite person to brainstorm baking ideas with, which made it all the more tricky to keep this birthday cake idea a surprise! And in the end, the cake she made was remarkably similar to what I came up with. Mind reader I tell you!
The idea for the cake came after I saw Sweetapolita’s genius idea to make cake batter sprinkle bark. While it looks completely awesome, the process is so simple – just melt, spread, chill, then repeat with white chocolate, and then go totally nuts with colorful sprinkles. I thought it would be cool to cover a whole cake with the sprinkle bark! I used a nice 70% dark chocolate and a good quality white chocolate, which made such a huge difference to the end product. I also threw some strawberry flavoured popping candy into the mix as an extra little surprise, and the reaction from Steph was absolutely priceless when she realized.
For the cake itself, the decision was tricky because many cake flavours would work well here. Steph has always loved anything malt-flavoured, so I made a Malted Vanilla Bean cake based on one of her favourite recipes, with a gorgeous vanilla bean buttercream. I totally loved the cake, and I don’t say this often, but I could seriously eat that buttercream from the bowl with a spoon.
I was sooooo happy with how the cake turned out and Steph loved it. I love that sprinkles never fail to bring out the inner child in everyone, so I think this cake would be perfect for young or old. Huge thanks must also go to my sister Beth who helped a lot with making the sprinkle bark and icing the cake.
Happy birthday Steph! I hope you have an amazing day filled with love and sprinkles!
Vanilla Malt Sprinkle Bark Cake
Vanilla Malt Cake (adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes)
• 195g butter, room temperature
• 150g caster sugar
• 3 eggs
• ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 195g self raising flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 120g Horlicks (or Milo for a chocolate malt cake)
• 60ml milk
• 60ml boiling water
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line the bottom of two 20cm round springform tins. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and then vanilla seeds and vanilla extract, beating to combine. Sift flour, baking powder and Horlicks together and then fold gently into the mixture until nearly combined. Add milk and fold again, then add water and fold once more.
Quickly divide mixture between the two prepared cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove and cool in tins for 10 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Sprinkle Bark (adapted from Sweetapolita)
• 180g high quality dark chocolate (I used 70%), chopped
• 320g high quality white chocolate, chopped
• Sprinkles of your choice, I used sprinkles, hundreds and thousands and popping candy
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Melt the dark chocolate, and then pour onto your parchment/mat and spread (with a small offset spatula for ease) until desired thickness is achieved. Freeze for 20 minutes to set.
Melt the white chocolate, and let sit for about 3 minutes. Remove tray with set chocolate from the freezer. and pour white chocolate on top, repeating the same spreading technique as you did with the dark chocolate. Toss sprinkles on right away. Freeze for 20 more minutes. Once set, break or cut into pieces. Store in the refrigerator.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream (adapted from Cupcake Project)
• 1 1/2 cup icing sugar
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
• Seeds of ½ vanilla bean, scraped
• 1 tablespoon milk
Mix together sugar and butter until they are blended and creamy. Add vanilla bean and milk and continue to beat for another minute.If desired, add more vanilla bean to taste, or more icing sugar to make it stiffer.
To assemble, place one cake onto a plate or cake stand. Cover top with vanilla bean buttercream. Place second cake on top. Cover top and sides with vanilla bean buttercream and smooth with an offset spatula to get a nice finish. Place pieces of broken sprinkle bark over the top and sides of the cake, and serve.