A Stunning But Easy Cake to Make
The first time I had this cake, I was seven years old and it was my birthday. I thought my mother was a genius for making such an amazing cake. On my younger daughter's fourth birthday, armed with my mother’s recipe, it was my turn to be the genius.
It turned out that making a hedgehog cake wasn’t quite the arduous task I had imagined it to be when I was little. In fact, although this cake looks complicated, making it is easy.
Essential Equipment to Make the Hedgehog Cake
The essential piece of equipment is an ovenproof pudding bowl (a round-bottomed bowl for US readers) that can hold at least 2 pints (1 liter). It will be about 6½–7 inches (about 17 cm) across the top. A pyrex bowl is ideal, but earthenware should also work fine.
I find most cake recipes too sweet, and as this one has a lot of icing (frosting for American readers) I sweeten the cake itself with date puree instead of sugar. However, I have also included quantities for sugar, so the choice is yours.
You could also use your own favourite chocolate cake recipe or even a chocolate cake mix, because what makes this cake so special is not the cake itself, but the shape and the decoration. I do, however, recommend using organic cocoa or chocolate cake mix because non-organic chocolate has been found to be high in pesticide residues.
Chocolate Hedgehog Cake Ingredients
For the Cake
- 5 oz/140 g/1 cup of plain flour
- 1 oz/30g/2 rounded tablespoons of cocoa powder (see photo)
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 6 oz/170 g/1½ sticks of butter (soft, spreadable butter is ideal, but if you use hard butter, be sure to let it soften for a while first.)
- Either: 4 oz/110 g/½ a cup of date puree (see below)
- Or: 3 oz/85 g/⅓ cup of sugar
- 3 eggs
For the Frosting
- 3 oz/85 g/¾ stick of butter (again, use spreadable or softened butter)
- 6 oz/170 g icing sugar/1 cup of confectioner’s sugar (I use unrefined sugar, but you can use your usual brand)
- 2 rounded tablespoons of cocoa powder
- A little hot water
- Chocolate buttons. You will need about 2–3 oz/60–85 grams of buttons, though this will depend on the size of button and how many you eat as you decorate!
- 2 raisins
- 1 glace cherry or dried cranberry
How to Make Date Puree
- Roughly chop 4 ounces/110 grams of dried dates.
- Place in a small pan and add just enough water to cover them.
- Cook over medium heat until the dates are soft and beginning to break up.
- Leave to cool. (It’s okay to puree while they are warm, but not hot.)
- Puree them in a blender or liquidizer. (A hand blender is ideal as you can do them in the pan.)
- Grease the bowl you will use for baking.
- Sift together all the dry ingredients and mix until no white flour shows.
- Place the butter in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. You can do this with a wooden spoon if you want to develop big muscles or if you are using spreadable butter. Otherwise, I recommend an electric beater! The butter should be smooth when you are done and lighter in color than when you started.
- Mix in the sugar or date puree.
- Beat the eggs lightly.
- Add the eggs to the butter mix with a little of the flour. (The flour stops the eggs and butter curdling.) Beat well together.
- Fold in the rest of the flour. Mix until no dry flour is visible.
- Spoon the mixture into the greased bowl and smooth flat.
- Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes at 180°C/160°C fan oven/350°F/ Gas mark 4.
- Check a few minutes before the time is up to test if cake is ready. To do this, insert a metal skewer into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is ready; if cake mixture sticks to it, the cake needs a few minutes more.
- Leave the cake cool for a few minutes and then turn out onto a rack. It should be easy to remove from the bowl, but if it sticks at all, run a knife around the edge.
Don’t worry if it doesn’t look much like a hedgehog yet!
Make the Chocolate Frosting
As the cake cools, make the buttercream frosting. To do this:
- Beat the butter and sugar together. (Tip: To avoid getting covered in sugar powder, beat the butter till smooth, add the sugar and stir until all the sugar is coated with butter. Then beat until the mixture is smooth.)
- Place the cocoa in a cup or small bowl with about 2 tablespoons of hot water, and mix until the cocoa has dissolved.
- Add the cocoa to the butter and sugar, and stir until the mixture is even in color.
Prepare the Cake for Frosting
When the cake is cool it is ready to ice. You are going to use it upside-down, so if the top is very raised, use a very sharp knife to cut the top off and make it flat. (Don’t worry too much about getting this exact, because the buttercream covers a multitude of mistakes!)
Decorating the Cake
Spread the frosting thickly over the cake with a palette knife (or any table knife will do if you don’t have a palette knife). You don’t have to be too careful about this as it should look rough!
At the base of the cake, choose a part to form a point with some extra buttercream—this is the hedgehog’s face and nose.
(And try not to lick your fingers! Bet you can’t manage that!)
Making the Hedgehog Face
Mark it with a fork to look like a furry little face. Add a cranberry or cherry for the nose and two raisins for eyes.
Cut the chocolate buttons in half and push them into the frosting as shown in the photos. Then eat the cute little hedgehog! Aah!
Tip: You can double the quantity of the mixture and use a larger and smaller bowl to make a parent and baby hedgehogs. The photo above shows Heidi and baby at my daughter’s fourth birthday party.
Information on Finding Chocolate Buttons
I used Montezuma’s Giant organic chocolate buttons, but you can use any kind you choose. Readers in the UK will have no difficulty finding chocolate buttons, but for readers in the USA or Canada, it may be more challenging to find these in your supermarket.
The most common type of buttons available in the US are those for melting to use in recipes. These are suitable to use in this recipe, though they may be dull rather than shiny.
Several varieties of chocolate button are available on Amazon, including the classic Cadbury’s chocolate buttons and organic buttons by Chocolate Decadence.
© 2012 Yvonne Spence