When Dilan requested an “excavator cake” for his birthday this year (how does he even know that word?) and the supremely talented cake lady we always use booked her maternity leave for the same month I was a little worried. As much as I enjoy baking I wasn’t sure I was up to this. I scoured Pinterest for ideas, collected up my ingredients and got stuck in. I picked an easy dairy and soya free cake recipe, made a bucket full of chocolate icing and got stuck in. The end result is something I’m genuinely proud of. It was simple to make, absolutely delicious and, most importantly, Dilan loved it. If you have a little person with a passion for excavators and diggers, and you’re possibly lacking in the cake decoration skills department or just short on time then read on for a simple way to create a construction cake they will adore.
Chocolate Cake Recipe
Recipe originally from The Great British Bake Off Children’s Party Cakes and Bakes book, adapted for CMPA and soya allergy. You could make this cake as small or as large as you need. Mine is three tier, and I used a 24cm tin, 18cm and a really small one. If you need your construction cake to be egg free also, use my vegan sponge recipe or chocolate crazy cake recipe.
- 300g butter, softened (I used stock block)
- 300g caster sugar
- 100g soft light brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 375g plain flour
- 80g cocoa powder
- 4 tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 100ml alternative milk (I used Koko)
- 120ml boiling water
- Cream the butter with both sugars and the vanilla extract until pale, light and thoroughly combined. This should take at least 3 minutes using a stand mixer. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and gradually add the eggs, a little at a time, mixing well in between.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a bowl, add the milk and beat until smooth. Mix slowly at first and gradual increase the speed. Add the boiling water and scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Mix for about 30 seconds longer until the batter is smooth.
- Divide the cake evenly between your greased cake tins and spread it level. Bake in a preheated over at 180C until well risen. My smallest cake took around 20 minutes, the medium about 25 and the largest took 30. Leave to rest in the tin for 3-4 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool before decorating.
- 125g butter (I used vitalite)
- 125g Trex
- 500g icing sugar, sifted
- 75g cocoa powder, sifted
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 tsp alternative milk
- 1 tbsp. golden syrup
- Beat the butter using a stand mixer until pale and light.
- Gradually add the sifted icing sugar and cocoa powder, along with the vanilla and the milk.
- Once all the icing sugar is incorporated add the golden syrup and beat for a further minute or so until the mixture is light and creamy.
To Decorate your Construction Cake
- Cover your cake board in brown icing (I used this Renshaw ready to roll icing with is dairy and soya free)
- Cover the bottom tier with a generous amount of chocolate icing before adding the second tier and repeating. Due to the nature of the cake I wasn’t worried about the icing or the structure of the cake being perfect.
- Add the top tier and ice. Make sure the whole cake is sufficiently covered.
- Cut one large slice out of the whole cake to create a hole for your first piece of machinery to be digging in. The Cat Mini Machines I ordered were the perfect size for this. Crumble up some of the cake slice and fill the hole with the ‘dirt’.
- Take a smaller slice out of the bottom layer of cake on the opposite side to make room for your dumper truck. I filled the dumper truck with a ground up digestive biscuit to look like dirt or sand.
- Cut a chunk out of the middle tier a little further around the cake. Fill with your biscuit dirt and poke in some chunks of a Moo Free Mini Moos Bunnycomb bar to look like rocks being dug out of the ground.
- Place the excavator, the star of our show, on the top tier of the cake so that it’s digging the hole you just made.
- Crumble up two bourbon biscuits to create a different texture of ‘dirt’ and sprinkle into the various holes.
- I then used a piping bag to ice around each tier to cover the joins, piping small circles to look a bit like rocks or boulders.
- Ta da! Stand back and admire your creation, and add any finishing touches you want to add. I added a ‘3’ sparkler candle for my birthday boy who was totally thrilled with the cake when I brought it out to him.
So there you go – a simple, easy to make, allergy friendly and Pinterest worthy construction cake that tastes good too! Let me know how you get on if you have a go.