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Into the Wild Cake

Serves 6 +
Prep time: 2 - 3 hrs
Cooking time: 30 - 60 mins

Brought to you by the Great New Zealand Birthday Cake Book



  • Cake tin rectangle tin 24 cm x 35 cm
  • Pams milk 320 ml
  • Pams cream of tartar 1½ tsp
  • Pams oil 160 ml
  • Pams eggs, lightly beaten 200 g (4 eggs, approx.)
  • Pams vanilla extract 2 tsp
  • Pams plain flour 360 g
  • Pams cocoa 140 g
  • Pams caster sugar 580 g
  • Pams baking soda 2 tsp
  • Pams baking powder 1 tsp
  • hot water 200 ml
  • 40 g Pams egg white (1 egg, approx.), or 40 g meringue powder (follow directions on packet)
  • 240 g Pams icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 250 g Pams butter, softened and at room temperature
  • 700 g Pams icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp Pams milk
  • food colouring: blue
  • gel food colouring: green
  • 300 g desiccated coconut
  • 1 packet blue jelly
  • 2 Cruskits (or any rectangular-shaped cracker)
  • 3 ice cream sugar cones
  • 15 (approx.) straight pretzels
  • 1 large ziplock bag
  • 1 piping bag
  • 1 star tip (Wilton 30)
  • 8 (approx.) red, orange & yellow candles
View the method
  1. Make jelly, trees and tent at least a day in advance to allow for drying time.
  2. Make blue jelly according to packet instructions, pour it into a shallow baking tray and refrigerate until set.
  3. To make the royal icing, Beat egg white in an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, on a slow speed until bubbles start to appear.
  4. Add sifted icing sugar a little at a time, beating on a higher speed until it forms firm peaks.
  5. Add lemon juice and mix in gently. Tightly cover the icing with plastic wrap as soon as it is made so it doesn’t dry out.
  6. Royal icing will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days. Remove from the fridge, bring to room temperature and stir well before using.
  7. To make the tent, lean the Cruskits together and use white royal icing to glue the apex of the tent together. Set tent aside on baking paper to dry.
  8. To make the trees, divide the remaining royal icing into 2 bowls and tint one green and the other dark green. Add colour proportionately as follows, a little at a time, mixing well, then continuing to add colour until desired tone is reached.
  9. For the green icing, add a drop of green
  10. For the dark green icing, Add a few drops of green
  11. Using a serrated knife, trim the wide end off 2 of the ice cream sugar cones to create 3 trees of different heights. Fit the star tip to the piping bag and half fill it with one green icing. Randomly pipe icing over all 3 trees, leaving gaps for the second colour. Refill the piping bag with the second colour and fill in all the remaining gaps on the cones. Set the cones aside to dry, standing them upright on a piece of baking paper. Store the tent and trees in an airtight container for up to a week.
  12. Colour coconut green for the grass by placing desiccated coconut into a large ziplock bag and add a few drops of green liquid food colouring. Seal, shake and massage the bag gently with your hands until the colour is evenly distributed. Add more colour if necessary and repeat until your desired colour is reached.
  13. Bake the chocolate cake at least a day before you plan to decorate.
  14. Preheat the oven to 180°C on standard bake (160°C on fan bake, but avoid using fan bake as it causes excessive peaking during baking). Prepare cake tin by spraying liberally with oil spray.
  15. Place milk and cream of tartar in a small glass, stir and set aside for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, place oil, eggs and vanilla extract, and stir to combine.
  16. Into a large mixing bowl, sift flour, cocoa, caster sugar, baking soda and baking powder.
  17. Scrape all of the milk mixture into the egg mixture and stir, then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Using a hand mixer, mix to combine, then slowly add hot water and mix well until you have a smooth batter.
  18. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 1 hour 10 minutes, checking the cake regularly during the last quarter of cooking time, or until a cake skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
  19. Cool for 15 minutes in the tin, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack. Once fully cool, wrap the cake in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container if you plan to decorate it the following day, or wrap it in tinfoil, followed by plastic wrap and then freeze it.
  20. If you know your baking isn’t cooked through but it’s looking crusty on top, carefully place a sheet of tinfoil on top of the cake. This will stop it from getting any darker on top but will allow the cake to continue cooking until it’s fully done.
  21. Make the buttercream.
  22. Beat butter in an electric mixer, using a paddle attachment, until the butter lightens in colour. Slowly add icing sugar in small batches (so it doesn’t fly out of the mixing bowl), beating in between until combined. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time.
  23. Start with room-temperature butter (not melted) and to beat with an electric mixer until the butter turns from a yellow to a white tone before adding icing sugar. Buttercream can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the fridge, but bring it back to room temperature and beat again before using so it is as light, fluffy and soft as possible.
  24. Colour 3 heaped dessertspoons of buttercream light blue by mixing in blue colouring a toothpick tipful at a time until desired colour is reached. Set aside. Colour the remaining buttercream green by adding drops of green colouring, mixing and adding again until desired colour is reached.
  25. Level the cake, using a cake leveller if possible.
  26. Turn the cake over and cut it into a square. Save the offcut piece for crumbling into dirt under the campfire. Place the square cake on the serving dish. Cover the cake’s top and sides in green buttercream and immediately pour over the green coconut grass, pressing it into the buttercream. Shake off any excess coconut.
  27. To make the campfire: In the front left corner of the cake, crumble some cake offcut in a small circle to look like dirt. Push 4 or 5 different-coloured candles into the centre of the crumbs and arrange the straight pretzels around them as firewood, using leftover royal icing to glue them in place.
  28. Place the tent behind the fire and add a straight pretzel at each end of it for tent poles, inserting them into the cake. At the front right-hand side of the cake, use a serrated knife to carve out a winding river shape 1 cm deep x 4 cm wide. Spread blue buttercream over the bottom and sides of the river. Arrange the cone trees around the river. Just before serving the cake, take the jelly out of the fridge and spoon it over the blue buttercream. Refrigerate the cake until serving.
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