So last week I was asked to bake for a board games day in our village (yes, that’s as wonderfully nerdy as it sounds!), so I decided to make something that might appeal to those bakers/ lovers of cake that are a little more on the nerdy side. This being said, if nerdy isn’t quite your style, Batman can be replaced with another shape and you’re away! Surprise (or ‘hidden’) cakes are an amazing concept to me- I love the fact that, from the outside, the bake looks just like a normal loaf cake, but then you cut into it and BAM- there’s a cool design! The downfall with this of course is that this can render the baker a nervous wreck, as you don’t know whether it’s worked until you cut into it. Despite having made this recipe beforehand at uni, not knowing whether the pattern had worked until 5 minutes before the cafe at the games day opened was a little nerve-wracking to say the least! Having seen other hidden pattern cakes online, I’ve found that many of them use the same sponge mix in the middle (for their shape) as they do for the surrounding sponge. I found this a little dry, so my recipe uses a chocolate sponge in the centre to give it that little bit of variance and richness which is needed when you’re lacking a jam or buttercream layer in the middle of your slice.
Hidden Batman Cake
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes
2lb Loaf Tin (23 x 13cm/ 9″ x 5″)
Brownie Tin (35 x 25cm)
For the Batman centre:
1 Batman cutter (such as this one)
6oz Caster Sugar
4.5 oz Self-Raising Flour
1.5oz Cocoa Powder
For the sponge:
8oz Caster Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
8oz Self-Raising Flour
1. Preheat the oven to 180C, grease the two trays and line them with greaseproof paper (this makes it SO much easier to remove from the tin!)
2. To make the Batman centre: soften the butter in the microwave and beat with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour and cocoa powder and mix until fully incorporated.
3. Spoon the chocolate sponge mix into a brownie tin and spread evenly. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Set aside, preferably on a wire cooling rack, to cool.
4. To make the sponge: soften the butter in the microwave and beat in the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour and vanilla essence and beat until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Spoon a little under half of the mixture into the loaf tin, place in the oven and bake for around 10-15 minutes.
5. While the bottom half of the loaf cake is in the oven, take the cutter of your choice (in this case, Batman!) and press out 12 shapes from the chocolate mix. You want these shapes to be as accurate as possible to the cutter, so make sure to be careful when removing the sponge from the cutter!
6. Remove the bottom half of the sponge mix from the oven. The mixture should be spongy, but should not feel fully cooked (it will not yet be golden in colour).
7. In a line along the centre of the loaf tin (along the tin rather than across the tin, so that each slice will have a shape in it), place the shapes onto the partly-cooked sponge mix. Press the shapes tightly together and make sure that they are lined up as closely as possible.
8. Next, add the rest of the sponge mix around the sides and top of the shapes (making sure that the mix reaches the bottom half of the sponge at the sides and completely covers the shapes at the top.)
9. Place back in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes until golden, and until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
10. Leave to cool, decorate with some buttercream (remove the mint from the buttercream in this recipe if you’re not sure how) and lift out of the tin onto a plate. When you’re ready to serve, cut the cake in half and pray that you lined your shapes up well enough/ that your oven cooks evenly enough for them to show through!
Shapes– despite doing this myself, I would recommend that if you’re doing this for the first time and aren’t a particularly confident baker, you use a more simple shape than a batman cutter! The best thing is something with not too many edges. Make sure to line up the shapes as best you can!
Cooking the sponge– Don’t do what I did the second time I made this and leave the bottom half in for too long! It still turned out fine, but the bottom half of my mix was a little overcooked, and you could see a line where this happened!
Ovens– If you know that your oven doesn’t quite cook evenly, make sure that you turn your cake around half way through cooking, otherwise you’ll have wonky shapes through the middle.
Buttercream– This can be bought already made, or made very easily yourself, but it really does need to be added, as it brings a little moisture to the mix. Maybe decorate it with a clue to what’s inside?! I piped my first one with the words “Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na…”
Sponge mix– Don’t worry if the sponge mix takes longer for the top half to cook than the bottom half, it does take longer in a loaf tin for the top to cook.