January birthdays, the epitome of bad scheduling. We’re all skint from buying too many presents for Christmas, plus we’re either sick of eating or just plain sick from some winter virus. So those January-borns end up apologising most of their lives for the inconvenience of coming into the world during the one month that nobody wants to celebrate. I blame the parents.
My husband, the apologist, is an early January baby. Sometimes I’m organised enough to have sorted out both Christmas and birthday presents before Christmas, but this wasn’t one of those years. I do, however, believe that there is no excuse for not baking a birthday cake. It has to be a different one every year – I don’t think I’ve ever baked the same birthday cake twice, with so many cakes out there to be made why would you want to?
This year’s offering was straight out of Nigella’s Feast book from the Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame: The Malteser Cake. I had one eye on number one son expecting a huge slab of it, so this is a perfect ‘for all ages’ recipe. With bonus sweets on top.
Chocolate Malteser Cake
For the cake:
150g soft light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
2 tablespoons Horlicks
175g plain flour
25g cocoa, sieved
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
For the icing:
250g icing sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa
125g soft unsalted butter
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 x 37g packets of Maltesers
Preheat oven to 170C. Butter and line two 20cm sandwich tins. Mine are 22cm and weren’t a problem.
Put the milk, butter and Horlicks into a saucepan and heat until the butter melts and the mixture is hot, but not boiling. While this is happening whisk the sugars and eggs in a big mixing bowl. Once they’re light and frothy add the hot Horlicks mixture and then fold in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb of soda. I found the mixture to be quite runny but again, this seemed to bake fine.
Divide the batter between the tins and bake for 25 minutes. Let them cool on a rack for about 5-10 minutes then turn them out of their tins while you get on with the icing.
Nigella professes to use a processor with the icing ingredients, but I did this by hand. Cream the icing sugar and butter, add sieved cocoa and Horlicks and loosen with the water, then beat with an electric mixer.
Sandwich the cold sponges with half the buttercream then ice the top with the rest. I opted for the ‘traditional’ Malteser crown to decorate so there was room for the birthday candles in the middle.
And yes it does taste just like Maltesers!