Puzzle piece birthday cake recipe
This can be made up to a month in advance and kept in the freezer.
- 500ml water
- 660g sugar
- 250g butter
- 40g cocoa
- 2 tsp bi-carb soda
- 450g self-raising flour, sifted
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
This can be made up to two months in advance and kept in the freezer or made fresh and frozen for next time.
- 150g icing sugar, sifted
- 100g butter, softened
- 1 orange, juice strained
- 45cm square cake board
- 1.4 kg readymade white icing (also called fondant icing, you can find Orchard white icing at all major supermarkets)
- Icing sugar, extra to prevent white icing from sticking to the bench when rolling
- Food colouring – brown, orange, pink, red, blue and yellow
- 1m red ribbon which is 2.5cm wide
- 1m orange ribbon which is 2.5cm wide
- 1m Happy Birthday ribbon (usually sold in a 4m roll, can be used for another birthday!)
- 2 cardboard boxes and tissue paper to hold puzzle pieces
- Paper to print/write out signs
- Greaseproof paper to line tin and use with rolling out of the icing
- Large round cutter to create puzzle pieces
- Sharp fine bladed knife to cut icing decorations
- To make the cake: 20 minutes preparation time, approximately 40-50 minutes cooking time
- Butter cream: 5 minutes to make, 10-15 minutes to cover cake
- Icing the cake: allow 30 minutes to 1 hour
- Puzzle: allow a total time of 2-3 hours which includes colouring the fondant, rolling and shaping. You can break this down in days if it makes it easier as the fondant needs to dry anyway. A suggested workflow plan could be:
- White square puzzle base – three weeks ahead of time
- One side of the puzzle – two weeks ahead of time
- Other side – one week before time (in warm weather – allow more time in cooler months or place near your heater!)
- Finishing up the cake with ribbon and sign: 30 minutes
1. Cover cake with buttercream icing 2. Gently drape rolled fondant icing over cake and smooth out any creases 3. Use a butter knife to trim the edges
4. Wrap the ribbons around the cake and pin in place 5. Cut out a template of the shapes you want to use for the puzzle 6. Roll out fondant icing to form base of puzzle
7. Use the template to cut the shape of the puzzle image 8. Position on the puzzle base 9. Cut fondant to fill in the coloured areas and add to puzzle base
7. Cut the puzzle down the middle 8. Use a round cutter to cut out the puzzle pieces 9. Place puzzle pieces into boxes and add note to the top of the cake with instructions.
Preheat oven to 170°C.
Line tin with greaseproof paper.
Place water and sugar in a saucepan, heat until sugar dissolves.
Add butter and cocoa, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute -be careful not to boil to rapidly as the mix will boil over.
Remove from heat and add bicarb soda. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before adding flour and eggs. Mix well.
Bake in oven until the mix springs back when gently pressed or when a skewer comes out clean – approximately 40 minutes.
Keep the cake in the tin for approx 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack – keep the bottom side up at all times to avoid making lines as this will be the presentation side up. You can freeze your sponge at this point, tightly in cling film.
When the cake is totally cooled (best if you can keep it in the fridge to chill right down before going any further) you will need to flatten the ‘bottom’ (which was the top.) Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on the presentation side and turn over. Use a serrated knife and cut the top of the cake so it’s as flat as possible. I usually cut a little at a time so that I don’t accidently cut away too much cake!
Place on the cake board. It’s now ready to be covered with butter cream.
Place the icing, butter and orange juice in a kitchen mixer. Start on low speed to combine all ingredients - if it’s on high you may lose a lot of the mix when it flies out of the bowl!
Once combined, turn up on high and allow to beat for a further 5-10 minutes until fluffy. You may need to scrape the bowl occasionally so it whips all of the mix.
Spread the butter cream evenly around the sides and top of the cake, smooth over as much as possible. Chill slightly to firm up before covering with fondant icing.Puzzle stencil
Cut a piece of greaseproof paper to 24cm x 24cm (the size of the puzzle) and fold in half – use this fold as your guide when drawing the stencil
Google images for a moshi monster and a clown (or any images your child prefers) and print or draw onto a piece of paper. Keep to the basics of the image to avoid the picture looking too ‘busy’ or messy.
Lay the image under the sheet of greaseproof paper. Use a pen to trace over one half of the image. Sit the other image alongside and trace on the other half of the greaseproof paper. Cut around the outline to create one whole image, reserve both pieces of greaseproof. You can trace this outline onto paper to make it easier to transfer to the fondant icing later on.
This is also known as fondant icing and can be found in larger quantities in cake specialty shops – they also sell them already coloured if you don’t wish to do that yourself. It will keep for a long time if stored in a cool place and if it’s wrapped very well. I usually use a few layers of cling film before placing in an airtight container in the freezer.
There are three stages of fondant icing with this recipe:
- covering the sponge with white icing - allow approx 500g of fondant
- white square base of the puzzle (24cmx24cm) - allow approx 300g of fondant
- coloured icing puzzle images which are attached to the white square – allow approx 500g of fondant
Stages 2 and 3 will need to be done ahead of time to allow the puzzle pieces to dry and become hard enough to handle.
Usually the icing is quite firm to touch when you open the packet. Break it into small pieces with your fingers and begin to ‘work’ or ‘massage’ it until you notice is becomes smoother and softer. At this point, bring the icing together and knead as you would a dough until it is soft and smooth (the smoothness reminds me of my kids’ baby bottoms!) Once it’s smooth and soft you are ready to either add colour or roll it out.
Roll this out first onto a piece of greaseproof paper. Use a ruler to measure it and cut to 24cm x 24cm. Mark the middle lightly with a knife to use as a guide to placing the bodies.
Start by making the bodies of the moshi and the clown. You will need to colour approximately 100g of fondant with yellow and 100g with brown. Roll out the icing to no more than 1/2cm thickness. (you can roll it out quite thin as you will be attaching it to the white base) Use the stencil to cut the outline of each body using a sharp knife and position onto the white square fondant base. Use a small amount of water to stick if necessary.
Colour approximately 90g of fondant with blue and 140g of fondant with orange for the background colours. Roll to no more than 1/2cm thick and cut using stencil. Position on the white square base around the bodies.
Leave 10g of white icing for the eyes and colour the remaining fondant with pink (50g) and red (10g).
Cut out eyes, hands, mouths and any other decorations and position on puzzle. Rather than cutting out the stencil into smaller pieces use a pen or pencil and whilst laying the greaseproof paper on the rolled icing, draw over the lines to transfer onto the fondant. Cut with a sharp knife.
When the picture is complete, use a large round cutter to create the puzzle pieces. Ensure you cut down straight so the edges will fit back together easily. Keep the pieces in a dry place to allow them to harden.
Using 500g of white icing, roll out to approximately 1/2cm thickness and large enough so the edges of the cake will also be covered. (I use the cake tin as my guide) It can be easier to roll it out on greaseproof paper – don’t forget to use icing sugar if it starts to stick. Use your rolling pin gently and turn the icing regularly so that the bottom won’t stick.
Using your rolling pin, and starting from the top, loosely roll the icing into the rolling pin. ‘Unravel’ the icing over the larger cake, making sure you allow enough icing to fall over the edges. This is the trickiest part of the whole process so the less kiddies around at this stage will probably make things easier. Use the natural curves of your hand and fingers to manipulate the icing so that it sits smoothly on the cake. Also try to touch the icing to the cake gently – if you press to hard you will make finger holes in the cake.
Using kitchen scissors or a pallet knife, cut around the base of the icing so the fondant sits neatly at the bottom or tucked slightly underneath.
To finish the cake
Place ribbon around the outside of the cake, one colour on top of the other. Position the happy birthday ribbon to hide the join and secure with pins.
Print off sign for the top of the cake and secure with pins.
Place puzzle pieces into boxes with tissue paper.
- The puzzle pieces will take some time but can be made well in advance. You can also make up your own image keeping it simple and perhaps using less colours, which will save you time. You could also use one image and use different colours for both sides. The possibilities are endless!!
- Icing the cake is the trickiest part – I would recommend a time when it’s quiet and you don’t need to rush (I know that doesn’t happen very often with us mums!) but once the cake has been iced all around with fondant icing, this acts as cling film and stops the cake from drying out. You can do this stage ahead of time by at least one to two weeks – depending on the weather. The puzzle pieces can be made well in advance (if they are kept uncovered in a cool and dry spot they will last for months).
- This recipe was created by Sonia Anthony.
From Chef Sonia
Although I am a qualified chef, I’ve had no formal cake making training. What I have learned is through trial and many errors. I hope that by sharing my knowledge, you can become as confident and as excited about cake making as I am! (without the mistakes!). I think the most important thing is to ‘give it a go,’ you’ll be producing amazing cakes before you know it!