Yep. I covered an entire cake in gummy bears. It's been a while since I did a ridiculously over the top sugar high insanity cake (see Fudge Brownie Cookie Dough Cake), and what better occasion to do one than my friend Tomred's birthday? He is the supplier of all sorts of sweet treats in our office, with a constant supply of Tim Tams and gummy lollies, so this cake seemed appropriate for him. After all, I've already made him a Giant Tim Tam Cake. And I just wanted an excuse to cover a cake in gummy bears. If I learnt anything from my Sprinkle Covered Purple Ombre Cake, cakes are always awesome when covered in sugar.
My point is, try not to be too mad at me for making this entirely ridiculous and unnecessarily over the top cake. It's fun to go there every now and then. I mean, look at how pretty it is when you cut into it! It's 5 layers of chocolate buttermilk cake layered with salted butter icing and each layer of icing is tinted to match the colours of the gummy bears on top. SO FUN.
I did learn some hard lessons while making this cake. First of all, as great as this chocolate cake recipe is, the cake tends to crumble quite easily so it is not the most ideal for cutting into thin layers and covering in icing. It was a messy job. I'd definitely recommend chilling the cakes overnight before you cut them up, or you can use your favourite chocolate cake recipe as a substitute. I kept the icing simple, using a LOT if salted butter to try to counteract the amount of gummy bears (and I took sugar out of the cake batter too). You could use a Swiss meringue buttercream instead, but I tend to prefer regular butter icing to buttercreams.
The gummy bears are a lot chewier than I remembered. So as awesome as it looks as a cake decoration, it makes it a little impractical when you are trying to have a bite of everything at once. And it does make it a little harder to cut slices, I felt bad cutting into the gummy bears! Of course you could skip the gummy bears or use less of them, but I just had to try this out to see how it looked.
It was totally worth it. Just looking at this cake makes me happy. Even though I know that most people who eat the cake will end up picking off the gummy bears and saving them for later, I love the effect of the gummies. Plus it's like getting a slice of cake plus a lolly bag for later!
So Happy Birthday for tomorrow Tomred! Thanks for being a friend who understands that your birthday cake will almost always come with a slice cut out of it for photographic purposes. It would have been cruel not to share an inside shot with you guys, right? Don't get too freaked out by the recipe, it makes a lot of cake so the amounts sound insane. You can halve everything to make a more normal sounding cake.
Gummy Bear Layer Cake
(cake recipe from Martha Stewart, makes a 5-layer 18-20cm round cake, serves 30ish people)
For the cake: (You can halve this recipe to make a smaller cake)
3 cups (about 385g) plain/all-purpose flour
2 &1/2 cups (about 560g) sugar (I used caster/superfine but white/granulated is fine too)
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp baking/bicarb soda
1 tsp salt
1 & 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
340g (3 sticks) butter, melted
1 & 1/2 cups (about 360ml) buttermilk
4 large egg
4 large egg whites
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line three 18-20cm round cake tins (if you have taller cake tins you can do this in two tins, don't risk it if your tins are shallow like mine as the batter may overflow). Line a standard cupcake tray with papers. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb soda, and salt; set aside. With an electric mixer, combine cocoa and 3/4 cup hot water until a thick paste forms (this process intensifies the chocolate flavor). Add butter, buttermilk, eggs, and egg whites; beat until combined. Whisk in flour mixture until smooth. Pour mixture into tins, distributing to make 5 layers (2/5 in two of the tins and 1/5 in the 3rd, or if using two tall tins; 3/5 in one and 2/5 in the other). Bake until a skewer inserted in the center of cake comes out clean, about 45-60 minutes.Cool in tin for 10 minutes then carefully remove from tin and cool completely on a wire rack. You can chill the cakes at this point to make them easier to cut. Using a long serrated knife, cut cakes into 5 even layers and trim off any doming that may have occurred during baking. (I used this trick to help my cakes bake more evenly)
For the icing:
(It sounds like a lot of butter and sugar but you need a lot to cover all 5 layers. Feel free to halve the amounts for a smaller cake)
500g (about 4 1/3 sticks) salted butter, softened
500g (about 4 cups) icing/confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp milk
Optional: Green, yellow, red food colouring
375g (3 & 1/3 sticks) salted butter, softened
375 (3 cups) icing/confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp milk
4 packs (700g) of gummy bear candies
To fill the cake layers and crumb coat the cake, place the 500g of butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add 500g sifted icing sugar while beating on low speed until combined, then add vanilla extract and beat on high until fluffy. Add milk 1 tbsp at a time while beating on high until you achieve desired icing consistency. Icing should be very fluffy and light in colour, easy to spread but stiff enough to hold its shape. Split mixture into 5 equal portions. Add food colouring to four of the portions, green, yellow, orange and red. Sandwich coloured icing between the 5 layers of cake. Use the remaining icing to crumb coat the outside of your cake. Chill in fridge for at least an hour, can be left overnight.
Prepare more icing using the remaining ingredients and repeating the steps above, without adding food colouring. Using a spatula, spread icing smoothly over the top of the crumb coat. Decorate cake with gummy bears. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container until ready to serve.