Rock cakes: the Nirvana smiley

Introducing the founding member of my rock cakes collection, the Nirvana smiley face. Yep I somehow managed to grunge-up a Victoria sponge, air punch! It wasn’t my intention to start a series of music-inspired bakes but this guy was such a hit and so much fun to design and make, that I decided to run with it. There’ll be plenty more rock cakes in the coming weeks but if there are any particular bands or pop tarts you’d like to see me immortalise in cake, then feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll see what I  can do. Back to Smiley….

Black and yellow Nirvana smiley face cake

Once again I’m using my foolproof Jane Asher sponge recipe for this cake, taken from her book Beautiful Baking


for the sponge…

  • 4 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • the weight of the 4 eggs in slightly salted, spreadable butter
  • the weight of the 4 eggs in caster sugar
  • the weight of the 4 eggs in premium, self-raising sponge flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • good quality jam for the filling (my personal favourite is the strawberry Bonne Maman)

for the butter icing…

  • 100g spreadable butter
  • 200g icing sugar

for the smiley face…

  • 1 packet of black ready to roll fondant icing
  • 1 packet of yellow ready to roll fondant icing

you will need – two 20cm sandwich tins, an 8 inch cake board

  1. The thing I love about Jane’s sponge is the guaranteed monster rise and the texture is as light as air. This is because there’s a lot of beating involved so an electric hand-whisk or a food processor will make your life a lot easier at this point. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4/180°C (165°C for fan assisted ovens). Beat together the butter and sugar until it looks like whipped cream, seriously it will turn practically white when you’ve shown it who’s boss, and at this point begin to gradually add the beaten eggs and vanilla extract, a tiny amount at a time. After the eggs I switch to a wooden spoon or spatula and fold in the flour in a couple of batches. Line your sandwich tins and then spoon the mixture into them both evenly before putting them into the oven for 25-35 mins. My oven is insane so I always check after 25mins with a sharp knife or cake tester, if it comes out clean, they’re done. Leave on a wire rack to cool.
  2. Once cooled, spread as much jam as you like over one cake before sandwiching the two together. As I go on to cover the entire cake in butter icing (as an adhesive for the fondant) I just use jam for the filling but feel free to add cream too if you fancy it. To make the butter icing, cream the butter and icing sugar together until smooth and creamy, if it looks a little too thick to spread, a couple of drops of water will thin this out. Put a small blob of butter icing in the centre of the board and place the cake on top of this, it acts as an edible glue and your cake won’t budge. Cover the top and side of the cake with the butter icing, I use a palette knife for this and tend to always start on top before working my way down the side. Try and get this as smooth as possible so that your fondant icing will have a smooth surface to stick to.
  3. Lightly dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the black fondant until you have enough to drape over the cake, completely covering it. Next step is to get rid of any air bubbles just by smoothing the icing down the sides with your hands. When you’re happy with the finish, take a sharp knife and trim off any excess icing around the bottom of the cake. If you have a cake smoother, gently buff the top and sides with it for a super smooth finish but this isn’t essential.
  4. Time for the smiley face. Roll out the yellow icing and cut out a long strip about 2cm wide, this is to go around the edge to create the face. To stick the strip into place simply moisten one side with water and lay it into place, pressing down gently as you go. You will be able to blend the two ends together to hide where they join. Cut out two crosses for the eyes, stick them into place and then make another strip for the mouth which you’ll need to kink in places as you position it onto the cake. The tongue is just a U shape with a thin strip down the middle for the tongue.

And you’re done – an homage to rock’s finest and one of baking’s best. The fondant icing keeps the sponge really moist for a good couple of days too so you don’t have to devour that sweet face all in one go!



4 thoughts on “Rock cakes: the Nirvana smiley

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