Chocolate Cake – First Birthday Jungle Cake

jungle cake1

Ishaan turned one recently. I have been so humbled to see many of you sent best wishes to him. Thank you. So I thought I should update about his birthday party.

We started planning for the party about 2 months ago. Every weekend we would go and buy supplies for the big day. We checked out couple of party halls and finally decided and booked one. As most of you guessed, I was practicing cake. I spent hours deciding on which cake I should make. I baked so many different cakes. I visited local library looking for books, googled for hours, changed plans a number of times. I also bugged my friends many times asking for ideas about the cake/party. We finally decided to keep it simple and have a snack party from 4-6PM. That timing was best suited for all the kids we know as it was not nap/food time for any of them. We kept the food very simple – ordered pizzas, samosas and cutlets from outside. We also bought some chips and soda.

Then the next thing was to decide on a theme. Ishaan does not have any favorite toys as such. So picking a theme was a bit hard. We visited the store party city and decided on a jungle theme as he had many toys, blankets etc on that theme. So we bought all the decorating supplies, plates, goodie bags for kids etc. That also meant the cake would be in jungle theme.

first birthday

I wanted the cake to be entirely edible. I also wanted some animal figures on the cake. So I had two options – either make them with fondant (which would make very good looking animals but it tastes awful) or marzipan (the finishing won’t be same as fondant but tastes great). After consulting some of my friends, I decided to go with marzipan(I used store bought marzipan this time). I wanted to practice a lot before the big day, but I hardly got any time to do that. I made all these animals 5 days in advance and refrigerated.

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I also baked some coconut cookies and filled up take out bags, as a Thank You take home gift for all my guests (We had about 18 families). These were done on the day of party itself, although I made many different batches of it earlier to arrive at the best tasting ones.

I chose a chocolate cake. I must have atleast baked it 4 times before the big day. Every time I modified it a bit. I am so happy that the final cake turned out awesome. That became pretty much the highlight of the party. I admit, I had few breakdowns while working on it. I think the top layer of the cake could have been much much better. I did lot of mistakes there. At one point, I even told V that we will order a new cake from outside and I am going to throw this away. Like always, he gave me a lot of support and encouragement. The cake took a lot more effort and time than I had expected. But I am so glad that I could do this.

Since this was the first ever party we arranged, it was a lot more stressful than we anticipated. I am sure next year we can make it better. I am grateful to some of my friends who helped us in every way. They brought us dinner so that we could get all the preparations done, helped us with decorations, took care of food and everything else. I am so grateful to each one of the friends who helped us. It was such a memorable day. The only thing I missed terribly was the presence of my parents. Due to some unavoidable conditions, they could not come here.

Some of my friends wanted to know about this cake. So I thought of posting the recipe that I followed.

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour (take out 3tbl spns of flour from it)
3 tbl spn of corn starch
4oz semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tea spn vanilla
1 tea spn baking powder
1 tea spn baking soda
2 tbl spn water
1 cup sugar
4 eggs separated

Method:
Preheat the oven at 325F for 10mins.
Stir together chocolate, 1/2 cup sugar and milk in top of double boiler. I just took some water in a vessel, brought it to boil, kept a glass bowl with chocolate, milk, sugar. On a low heat, let the water boil. Kept stirring the chocolate mixture. When all the chocolate melts, add butter and mix. Take it off the heat, add vanilla, mix. Let it cool to room temperature.
Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites till soft peaks form and keep it aside.
Sift together flour, corn starch, baking powder, baking soda.
In another bowl, beat together egg yolks, water and 1/2 cup sugar until thick. Now alternatively add flour mixture and chocolate mixture, a small quantity at a time, beating all the time (if using a electric mixer, do this on lowest speed).
Fold in the egg whites. Pour the mixture in greased baking dishes.
Bake in the oven at 325F for about 40mins (or till done).

Chocolate frosting:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
6tbl spn milk
1 tea spn vanilla
4 cups(approx 1lb) confectioners’ sugar

Method:
Combine butter, cocoa, milk in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and take off from heat. Add vanilla, sugar, beating continuously till it holds a peak.

Notes – Instead of using all purpose flour and corn starch, directly use 1 and 1/2 cups cake flour.
Sifting the flour is pretty important as it incorporates air into it and so the cake becomes soft.
While beating the egg whites, make sure to use a very clean bowl and clean beaters.
While folding egg whites, do it very slowly making sure not to deflate all the air.
It your cake rises in the center, that means your oven is getting way too hot (I learnt this after first couple of attempts and googling about it). So next time, reduce the temperature a little and try.
After you fill the baking dish with batter, drop the pan on a kitchen counter couple of times. This evens out the batter and also removes any air bubbles.

Putting together(these steps are optional):
After the cake was cooled to room temperature, I cup of little bit of the top to even it out. Then cut the cake horizontally in two pieces. Brush both the halves with sugar syrup (heat 1/4 cup water with 2 tbl spn sugar till sugar melts). Then spread a thick layer of whipped cream on one half, followed by chocolate frosting. Then spread some chopped strawberries on top. On the other half, spread a thick layer of whipped cream. Slowly keep this half on the one with strawberries, whipped cream layer down.
Now decorate it as required. I frosted the cake with whipped cream (added some cake color to it). Then used chocolate frosting and butter cream icing (store bought) for decorations. Made the animals with store bought marzipan(here is a recipe if needed).
I basically tripled the above amount. Added 2 parts in one bigger pan and 1 part in smaller pan.

jungle cake1

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