Beach cakes are such happy creations, fun and easier than you’d think using your favourite sponge cake and frosting. Cream cheese frosting works perfectly and there’s a recipe for this and the decor below. Though considering the decorations involve digestive biscuits (aka Graham crackers), blue food colouring and candied fruit props, maybe you don’t need instructions to make your own cheerful beach cake.
Yay! First here’s a quick cake roundup of stuff made the last week or so. There were the very easy nutellotti which led me to discover a higher appreciation of Nutella and the word Nutellicious. Made about 4 batches in the name of research. Ahem. There were also many prototypes of the savoury swiss chard or spinach torta pasqualina, including a healthier version made with Quark instead of ricotta and a nicely-decorated bunny one (my first ever scenic pie). The recipe will be on the blog one day following further prototypes. Sorry about the wait.
So how to make your seaside-inspired dessert!
THE BEACH CAKE
I first saw beach cakes on Instagram, one of my main sources of inspiration and where some people are making cakes every day, even more than me! It’s great! So I’ve been wanting to make a beach cake for a year or so and finally took the plunge, just dived right in there (not in the cake). Skimming various online recipes reveals they tend to use similar ingredients and techniques. The sandy part is crushed digestive biscuits (aka Graham crackers) and the sea is frosting coloured to various shades of blue.
But my decorations were decidedly simple as night was falling and I hadn’t planned ahead. Oops. No time to fashion fondant flip flops or bodies to adorn my biscuit beach. No time to create scary shark fins or chocolate sea shells. Sob. Just enough time to dive into a pot of candied fruit peel and assemble a rather ‘naive’ beach cake, ie. child-like. 🙂 Luckily the pretty cocktail umbrella really helps, lending height and a definite summer beach atmosphere.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A sponge cake made with a 20cm/8in-diametre round cake tin or 2 sandwich tins. For a higher cake the tins’ diametre can be 18-19cm. You can follow my go-to red velvet cake recipe. I used 20cm/8in sandwich tins (bake 25 to 30 minutes) and half a teaspoon of pink colouring instead of red (for a more subtle effect). Next time I’ll make a more summery fruity or tropical sponge. Anyway, you can use any sponge you like if you feel it goes well with cream cheese frosting.
- Cream cheese frosting
- Half a packet of Digestive biscuits or Graham crackers.
- praliné, optional to add extra texture to your sand
- Wilton blue food colouring gel
- Candied fruit (alternatively, fondant beach shapes, chocolate shells or seaside jelly sweeties)
- A cocktail umbrella – pretty important 🙂
Frosting (or use your own recipe)
- 117g/ml whipping cream – 35%
- 700g/25oz Philadelphia cheese, at room temperature
- 175g/1 and 2/5 cup icing sugar
- about three-quarters of a teaspoon pure vanilla extract, to taste
Whisk all the ingredients together in a big bowl until light and fluffy. Add more cream if you want it fluffier.
Slicing, filling and the crumb coat
- Slice your cooled sponge cake into 2, 3 or 4 layers. You can place 2 Dvds (of the appropriate height) next to your cake, one on each side. Make a line of icing sugar or flour from the bottom to the top anywhere on the side (this is so you know how to place the slices back on top of each other in the correct position). Lean your serrated bread knife on the two dvds and see-saw across to slice the layers (for photos and more details go to my coffee and walnut cake recipe).
- Keep enough icing (almost a third) to cover the outside and use the rest to spread icing on the layers. You can use a disposable piping bag and smallish-sized nozzle (French size 6) to pipe thin concentric circles. Then use a butter knife or metal spatula knife to spread out lightly and evenly. This system helps achieve almost even-sized layers of icing.
- Use a little of the remaining icing to scrape a thin layer of icing around the sides and top of your cake. This is called the ‘crumb coat’ that seals in the crumbs before other layers are applied. You need to chill the crumb coat in the fridge around 30 minutes so it sets. Martha Stewart has a great video showing how to crumb coat a cake.
Sand and sea frosting – decide how much sand and sea you want on your cake. If you want less food colouring then have less sea.
- Crush the biscuits into small fine crumbs – place in a plastic bag (like a disposable piping bag) and beat with a rolling pin. Don’t close the bag with a lot of air in it or you’ll get an explosion and broken bag.
- Spread a thin layer of frosting on half your cake and then with your hand and thumb press in the crushed biscuits till you completely cover the beach part of your cake. For more texture sprinkle on some praliné. Or include bigger biscuit crumbs.
- Divide your remaining frosting into three bowls. With a toothpick add blue colouring gel to one bowl and fold lightly with a spatula so you have blue swirls with still some white showing. Do the same with another bowl but make it darker blue. So you’ll have 3 bowls of frosting: white, light blue and darker blue (not too dark – it would be scary to eat).
- First use a small metal spatula (a butter knife or back of a metal teaspoon could work) to add white frosting along the border of the ‘sand’. Be careful to put a little over the sand and spread delicately towards you away from the sand so you don’t get biscuit crumbs everywhere.
- Once your have the white ‘surf’ use the light blue and spread unevenly to make the sea a bit choppy. Spreading the frosting is easy because it doesn’t have to be smooth and even.
- Work towards the sides and start using the darker blue to finish covering your cake.
Candied fruit decorations
These are some ideas I used: half a glacé cherry for a ‘ball’, two angelica triangles for fins, some orange slivers for a plant or starfish (depending on how you look at it!) and some strips to make up a beach towel. Stick the parasol near the beach towel so your invisible person gets some shade. It’s kind of nice if things are a bit in proportion. I tried to put a mini bottle of champagne next to the towel but the bottle just looked too big …
You could shape some more sophisticated fondant props like flip flops, trees, starfish and people in swimwear. If you look for ‘beach cakes’ in google images you’ll see loads of ideas. There are even deck chairs on some cakes!!! Next time. As I said before this is my naive beach cake.
Of course most importantly this cake was delicious and cheerfully eaten by many swooning cake testers, aka friends. Moist and light red velvet crumb combined with cream cheese frosting is out of this world. And the beach is just added amusement. I confess I was regularly popping into the fridge (keeps there up to 5 or 6 days in an airtight container) just to look at it and have a laugh. 🙂
So hope you’ve enjoyed this amusing cake. Have you ever made a beach cake or would you like to? Do you have any other ideas for decorating beach cakes or other kinds of novelty cakes? I’d love any suggestions.
Wishing you a fun end of the week and weekend ahead sweet reader! As always, happy baking and eating! 🙂 x