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Keef the Caterpillar Cake

Introduction & method

Marks and Spencer introduced their iconic Colin the Caterpillar cake about 30 years ago. It has featured at many a child's birthday party since then and been copied by all the major UK supermarkets. Now Keef Cooks has its own version!

Keef the Caterpillar Cake Recipe

Make Ganache

Break up the chocolate into small pieces. In a small saucepan heat the cream until it is almost boiling. Remove from heat and tip in the chocolate. Keep stirring it until all the chocolate has melted and you have a smooth, streak-free paste.

Make Buttercream

The butter needs to be soft but not melted. Whisk it in a bowl until smooth. Blend in the sugar and beat until it comes together in a ball. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of cream (or you can use milk) and some vanilla extract. Stir until smooth and set aside.

Make the Sponge

Whisk together the eggs and sugar. In a stand mixer, run it at high speed for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is pale, thick and foamy. In another bowl, mix together the cocoa powder and flour, then gently fold in the egg and sugar mixture. Line a swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper. Pour in the sponge batter and spread it with a palette knife making sure it goes right to the edges and corners. Heat your oven to 200°C (392°F) for a fan/convection oven, 220°C (425°F) conventional, gas 7. Bake the sponge for 10-12 minutes. When it is baked the edges will be just pulling away from the tin and a skewer inserted into the cake should come out dry.

Cut another sheet of greaseproof paper slightly larger than the swiss roll tin. Sprinkle it all over with icing suger then tip out the sponge onto it. Carefully peel off the first sheet of paper. Cut two strips 1 centimetre (half an inch) wide from one of the short edges and set them aside. Score a line 2.5cm (1 inch) from one of the short edges of the sponge and use the second sheet of paper to help roll up the cake - take care not to get the paper wrapped up inside the sponge. Wrap the roll in a clean tea towel and let it cool.

Assemble the Body

Carefully unroll the sponge and spread it generously with the buttercream. Re-roll the sponge and wrap in the towel. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the buttercream to firm up. Take the two strips and cut them in half so that you have four shorter pieces to make ridges on the body. Spread one side of each piece with ganache and stick the ridges onto the body leaving an equal space between each one. You might need to wrap and chill the body to make the ridges stick. Once they are stuck, spread the whole body and one end with ganache. Scoop some ganache out in between each ridge. Place Smarties or other small sweets onto the ridges and the ganache-coated end.

Make the Face

The design of the face is entirely up to you but there should definitely be two antennae on the top and two eyes made from Smarties or M&Ms. Use white fondant icing tinted with the food colouring of your choice. Roll a disc the same diameter as the caterpillar body - you can make it as thick or thin as you want but bear in mind it will need to dry out somewhat before you can apply it, and thicker icing will take longer. If your icing is sticking to the worktop, sprinkle with some icing sugar. If you want to make the icing stick to something, moisten it with water. If you want to speed up the drying time, place your icing in a proving drawer at a temperature of 60° (140° F). When the face is firm enough to stand up, dab some ganache on the back and stick it to the front of the cake.

Make Some Feet

Caterpillar cakes usually have feet - mine has three on each side. Roll out a sausage of coloured fondant icing, cut it into appropriately-sized lengths and bend them into L-shapes. Flatten the foot, shape the heel a little and make shallow cuts to indicate three toes. Press the vertical piece of ankle onto the body and taper the ankle to fit.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Keef the Caterpillar Cake on YouTube.


Ingredients & Info

 125 grams caster sugar
 80 grams plain white (all-purpose) flour
 50 grams cocoa powder
 5 medium eggs
 250 ml double (heavy) cream
 250 grams dark chocolate
 200 grams icing sugar
 100 grams unsalted butter
 2 tbsp double (heavy) cream
 a splash of vanilla extract
 50 grams fondant icing
 a few drops of food colouring
 a handful of Smarties™ or M&Ms™

US Customary/Imperial

Serves 6 -8
Prep time: 30 minutes.
Cooling/setting time: 2 hours.
Cooking time: 12 minutes.
Total time: 2 hours 42 minutes.