Arsenal birthday cake and comedy dog turd brioche

Today I had been intending to post pictures of chocolate brioche for the Monthly Mingle organised by Meeta, What’s For Lunch Honey? and hosted this month by my friend Jamie at Life’s A Feast.

The ingredients for said chocolate brioche have been taunting me in the kitchen all last week whilst I was busy making my cupcakes for three Cake A Difference charity cupcake sales.

This week, all those late nights spent frosting and decorating have been catching up with me and furthermore Ted has been on half term from pre-school meaning less time to cook and blog.  I finally managed to make my brioche dough two days ago but was not very pleased with the results.  More about that in a moment.

But first let me take this opportunity to show you a birthday cake that I made for an 8 year old Arsenal fan at the end of January – a girl too!

This time I had none of the food colouring problems that beset The Very Hungry Caterpillar cake, I was using my new Wilton gel food colouring pots and although I had to use quite a lot to get the colour this intense, gel food colouring doesn’t seem to create the same bitter taste that haunts icing made with large quantities of liquid colouring.  I also managed to mix convincing shades of “gold” and navy for the Arsenal crest.

When I first looked at the Arsenal logo, I thought it would be quite easy to reproduce. My husband (a graphic designer) commented that I was lucky to be doing a cake for a club with a modern logo that was clean and simple. What I hadn’t taken into account was that when recreating a sugarpaste version of a corporate logo, is that there is no room for artistic license, it has to look exactly the same or else people will not realise what it is.  I think I managed a respectable job considering this is only my second time covering a cake with fondant sugarpaste but I found it more difficult than I expected. It was a larger cake than the caterpillar’s head and I don’t think I managed as smooth a coverage as on that occasion. I think I could have done with around 10-15% more sugarpaste so that it would have been thicker. The top was fine but it was too thin and untidy around the edges. I suppose I could do with making six of these back to back to get lots of practice but I might drive myself mad in the process!

The cake was a 9″ chocolate victoria sandwich from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible.  I laid it on a 10″ board  covered in sugarpaste.  I also had problems with the board that the paste dried out too much and went crumbly in a couple of places.

This time I covered the cake with chocolate ganache from Planet Cake rather than two layers of fondant. It was also my first time piping with royal icing. This was nerve wracking but I think I did a better job of it than the fondant work.  For the football shirts around the edge I used a mini cookie cutter for a baby-grow with the bottom trimmed off.  I used my Nigella Lawson A-Z cookie cutters for the lettering.  For the Arsenal lettering which was in lower case I manipulated different letters to stay faithful to the typography.  If I was making the crest again, I would allow wider pieces of the fudge colour to go around the edge because I hadn’t accounted for what it would look like sideways on. I got around this by inserting more panels of the same colour but it would have looked neated if one single piece of sugarpaste had been tucked under. 

Mum was pleased with her daughter’s cake. I am due to be making something very pink and girly for her little sister in a couple of weeks’ time.

Chocolate Brioche Disaster

Now I suppose I should explain more about the hideous brioche disaster. I studied three different brioche recipes and opted for the one in my usually reliable The Dairy Book of Home Cookery by Sonia Allison, a vintage book which my mother used when I was a child. The only tweak I made to the recipe was to substitute 25g flour for cocoa powder to make them chocolate flavour.

I found that the prescribed 15g yeast combined with 60ml warm water produced a horrid pale marmite like paste.  All of the brioche recipes I’ve looked at have this same ratio of yeast/water and some even have great quantities of flour.  The dough was heavy, it did expand but not as much as I would expect and there was not enough for 12 rolls as expected. The results you can see above. Had I wanted to invent a recipe for edible comedy turds, I don’t think I could have done better.

If anyone has a fool proof chocolate brioche recipe I would be delighted to hear about it!


  1. Amanda says

    Wow the cake is amazing!! I bet you did have to use a lot of red, but wow, spectacular results :) Too bad about the brioche, but I like when people post their failures as well as their successes. Proves you are human :)

  2. Mamatkamal says

    I can't believe that this is only your 2nd time covering a cake with sugarpaste, it looks amazing! I've never used royal icing on my cakes, yours looks perfect.
    Good night,

  3. Rambling Tart says

    FABULOUS job on the cake, Sarah! So much detail and brilliant color – well done! :-) I cracked up at your chocolate turds – I'm afraid your description is all too apt. :-) Brioche is on my "To Make In 2010" mental list and I have yet to attempt it. I hope you find the perfect recipe! :-)

  4. FoodE says

    Luv the Arsenal cake! They played yesterday vs fc porto! It was a great game!.. Will send this to my arsenal fans! I have attempted to make brioche 3 times n yet to find a good recipe. I was thinking I got the wrong yeast or didn't proof long enough.. Who knows. Great blog!

  5. Sari says

    Wow Sarah, your Arsenal cake is stunning! You did a wonderful job. And don't worry about the brioche. You should see my baking disasters. I will soon try to make macarons again, and I'm almost sure about result as it will be my only second attempt! :)

  6. faithy, the baker says

    Hi Sarah! I think you did a great job! The cake looks wonderful & the logo is great! It's really not easy to reproduce logo in sugarpaste! I find that the chocolate ganache in the planet cake book doesn't really work for me cos it tends to slide down in the hot weather..and it does ooze out at the bottom too.

  7. MaryMoh says

    Sarah, that's such a beautiful birthday cake! Come on….open your own bakery! You will make lots of £££ 😀 Never mind about the brioche disaster. The cake is superb!

  8. Heavenly Housewife says

    Wow, that cake looks awesome. The brioche looks funny LOL, but we all have our share of disasters, just laugh at it and try again daaaaaahling!
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend ahead.
    *kisses* HH

  9. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says

    Haha this cake is gold! You did an amazing job Sarah! 😮 Seriously that look really good!

  10. Stephanie Savors the Moment says

    Wow! That cake is amazing – great job! Too bad about the brioches but thanks for sharing – not everything turns out as its supposed to in baking and real life, right?! Great blog:)

  11. Kitchen Butterfly says

    You ….are AMAZING, Sarah. The boldness and confidence to make and decorate a whole cake….all on your own. I doff my heart. Since my husband's an Arsenal fan…..double kudos! LOL and have a great weekend. Planning on going to see The Princess and the Frog on sunday.

  12. Sarah, Maison Cupcake says

    @amanda Yes I like to fess up about my failures. I still wish there were fewer of them though
    @mamatkamal You are too kind. I think it is too messy
    @ramblingtart yes it was the only description that came to mind
    @foode Thank you very much and welcome!
    @sari Your brioche were fabulous!
    @anh Same colours at least?
    @faithy LOL we don't get much hot weather here, at least not in February
    @chowandchatter Thanks!
    @marymoh The bakery will be next door to your restaurant, we need two vacant units together halfway between London and Aberdeen
    @heavenlyh, @notquitenigella, @alessandra @stephaniesavorsthemoment Thank you!
    @kitchenbutterfly It's wonderful film, enjoy!

  13. I heart cupcakes says

    I love the cake and your tweets re the brioche made me giggle. I know you'll make some fabulous brioche soon :)

  14. Arsenal Fan says

    A great cake. I will be asking my wife to get me one of those for my next birthday.