How to make a chocolate hedgehog cake
Learn how to make a hedgehog cake – a simple chocolate sponge cake slathered in buttercream with button spines – for your child’s birthday cake.
Follow this step-by-step failsafe guide on cutting the cake into shape and decorating. There’s also an idea for a coconut ‘grass’ base…
When I was younger my mum used to make the best birthday cakes for my sisters and me. Clowns, ladybirds, princesses, tea party tables… The cakes, and her talents, were endless. Every year the cake would be different but the pose on the table would be the same.
My favourite cake, and the one that always stays in my memory, was the hedgehog cake. Sponge cake slathered in buttercream with button spines – a delicious trinity of chocolate. It’s no wonder I asked for it again and again.
I decided to follow in my mum’s brilliant cake-making footsteps for my chocolate-loving nephew’s second birthday but I couldn’t find a good step-by-step on how to make the shape of the hedgehog. So I sought her advice and I can proudly say I now know how to make one – and I’m eager to share the knowledge with you.
Here’s how to make a chocolate hedgehog cake:
1. Bake your cakes. I made two simple chocolate sponge cakes, then left them to cool completely. In the meantime you can make the buttercream from the recipe, then cover it with cling film and leave in the fridge until you’re ready to start assembling.
2. Cakes cool? Then you’re ready to start. Lay your cakes out on a board and sandwich them together using some of the buttercream. Using a ruler or tape measure, measure the diameter of the cake and divide by four – this will be how much of each side you need to cut off. So I made a 20cm cake which, divided by four, equals 5cm.
Carefully cut off either side of the measured cake to make the top of the hedgehog, then cut off the front sections of the middle piece of cake to make the nose. Cut small triangles off the back of the sides so there isn’t a big overhang at the back of the cake. (Eat those little triangles at the back – they aren’t called chef’s perks for nothing.)
Your cake should look like this:
3. Add buttercream to the top of the body and the top of both sides, then sandwich the sides together on top of the body. You can use the triangles you’ve cut out to make the nose for making smaller hedgehogs.
4. Cover the hedgehog with buttercream. I find the best way to do this is to work from the bottom up, piling lots of buttercream on so you don’t add any pesky crumbs into the icing. You want to keep the face of the hedgehog as smooth as possible but you can be a bit more rough-around-the-edges with the body. Once it’s covered, use a fork to add a bristly texture to the body.
5. Chop all your chocolate buttons in half, leaving one for the nose (or use a cherry or Malteser). Arrange the buttons onto the hedgehog to make the spines. Add coffee beans (or raisins) for eyes. For the smaller hedgehog (yes there were two but one accidentally disappeared into my stomach – oops) cut the buttons into quarters and use coffee beans cut into quarters for eyes and the nose.
For the grassy base: Add a few drops of green food colouring and 75g desiccated coconut into a sandwich bag and shake until you get your desired green coloured “grass” – the less-is-more approach is best, so add a few drops to start, then gradually add more, one drop at a time. Mix 100g icing sugar with 1 tbsp water to make a thin, spreadable water icing. Spread this over the cake board (or plate/tray/chopping board), then sprinkle over the coconut mixture to cover the board. Add edible flowers if you wish.