Celebrating Cake Day

“Let them eat cake!” Perhaps the most famous quote about cake ever were the words of French queen Marie Antoinette upon being informed that the peasants were so poor that they had no bread to eat. Needless to say, her ignorance and arrogance did not win her or her husband King Louis XVI any respect or sympathy from their subjects, who then proceeded to behead them both during the French Revolution!

None of this changes the fact that cakes are arguably one of the most delicious baked goods that humans have ever made to eat, and the vast number of recipes and types of cake available continue to amaze. Not to mention the surfeit of hugely popular television series such as Great British Bake Off, Buddy Valastro’s Cake Boss, Cake Wars and many more. For all those reasons alone, it is obvious that the cake is more than a little deserving of its own commemoration – Cake Day – which is observed every year on November 26.

The first cakes – called plakous – were made in Ancient Greece and consisted of flour mixed with eggs, milk, nuts, and honey. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word cake back to the 13th century and was derived from the Viking word kaka (boy are we thankful it was changed!).

Today cakes are everywhere – the centrepiece at weddings and birthdays, the star attraction at tea parties and a religious symbol in many countries around the world during holidays and celebrations.

Whether chocolate or carrot, cheesecake or red velvet, pretty much everyone enjoys a slice of cake, so we asked four Capsicum Culinary Studio alumni – all of whom are making waves in the baking world – to share their favourite cake recipe with us. Here’s what they sent:


Khashifah Ismail’s Decadent Chocolate Cake

Durban campus alumnus Khashifah Ismail runs her own cake making company called Pastry by Hatice and caters for all occasions.

250g soft margarine
1½ cups castor sugar
4 eggs
4 tsp baking powder
4 tbs cocoa powder
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla essence
400g dark chocolate, chopped
400ml whipping cream
2 tbs butter

Pre-heat oven to 180°C and place a rack in the centre. Line two 20cm x 20cm square pans with baking paper. Place the margarine and sugar in a bowl and using a hand-held beater with a paddle attachment, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat between each egg. Add the vanilla essence and mix until all ingredients are well combined. In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder and mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, mixing in slowly until well combined and lump-free. Pour half the batter into each cake tin (I always weigh the batter to get the exact amount into each pan) and bake for 35 minutes. Insert a cake skewer into the middle and if it comes out clean, the cakes are done. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes then remove from their tins. Next make sugar syrup by heating half a cup sugar and half a cup water until the sugar dissolves. When cool, use a pastry brush to apply the syrup to both cakes as this will keep them moist and allow the chocolate ganache to stick to the cake more effectively. For the chocolate ganache, heat the cream until just before it starts to boil then remove from the heat and pour it over the broken-up chocolate stirring all the while so the chocolate melts. Add the butter and mix well so the ganache is shiny. Leave to cool overnight.
To assemble: Cut the cakes in half so you have 4 layers. Whip the ganache to a piping consistency, place into piping bag and apply it until it covers the entire cake. Set in the fridge until firm then slice, serve and eat!


Jaen-Mari Breytenbach’s Carrot Cake

Jaen-Mari Breytenbach graduated from Capsicum Culinary Studio in 2015 and was in the SA Olympic Culinary Team that competed in Germany in 2020. For enquiries, contact Jaen-Mari at jaenmaribreytenbach@mail.com


400g cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
295ml vegetable oil
200g sugar
200g brown sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
4 eggs
300g carrots, peeled & grated (save the peels for garnish)
125g pecan nuts, chopped
65g raisins
65g pineapple, grated
65g zucchini, grated
Zest of 2 lemons
130g dried cranberries


Heat the oven to 180°C. Grease two 23cm round cake pans and line the bottom with baking paper then grease the top of the paper. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, both sugars and vanilla essence. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, gently stirring until they disappear and the batter is smooth. Stir in the carrots, nuts and raisins.
Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake until the tops of the cake layers are springy when touched and when a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (35 to 45 minutes). Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks, peel off parchment paper and cool completely

Cream Cheese Icing

113g salted butter, softened
226g cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla essence
¼ teaspoon salt
500g powdered sugar
½ cup lemon zest


Combine butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer (or you can use an electric hand mixer) and beat until creamy, well-combined and lump-free. Add vanilla essence and salt and stir well to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add powdered sugar until completely combined. Use to ice completely cooled cake.

Cinnamon Tuille


100g egg whites
100g icing sugar
50g corn flour
100g butter, melted
150g flour
½ tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp cinnamon


Preheat oven to 180℃. Add egg whites to a large bowl and whisk a little before adding the sugar and whisking until frothy. Stir in the flour, corn flour and vanilla essence and then add the melted butter. Add cinnamon and mix to a smooth batter. Spoon onto two lined baking trays and spread thinly using an offset spatula and bake for 7 to 8 minutes until the tuiles are just turning golden around the edges. Remove the baking trays from the oven and let cool completely. Break tuille into chards.

For the carrot peels – deep fry them in hot oil and remove when golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels then use for garnish on the cake along with the tuile as well as extra nuts and dried fruit if desired.


Hendrik Pretorius’ Chocolate Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Chocolate Frosting

Pretoria campus alumni Hendrik Pretorius heads up the pastry section at Simpli Café in Lisbon, Portugal and is working on his first cookbook, The Sweet Side of Life.

6 eggs, separated
250g all-purpose flour
350g sugar
120ml vegetable oil
240ml hot water
50g cocoa powder
20ml baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla essence

Sugar Syrup
96ml water
100g sugar

Orange Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
350g cream cheese
375g icing sugar
125g soft butter
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbs orange juice.
50g cocoa powder
zest of 1 orange


Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease two 16cm round cake pans and line the bottom with baking paper then grease the top of the paper and the sides of the pans. Set aside. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then mix in the cocoa powder, add the hot water and allow to cool. In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks, oil, sugar, vanilla and cocoa mixture. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Whip egg whites till stiff and fold lightly into the batter. Pour evenly into the two cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove the cakes from the cake pans when they are completely cooled down. Trim the top part of the cakes with a serrated knife so both cakes are flat on top. Use a pastry brush to brush about one half of the sugar syrup* over the top of the cake. Spoon one third of the frosting* on top of the cake and with an offset spatula spread it evenly to the edges. Place the other layer cake on top and repeat the process but using the remainder of the frosting. Garnish with Chantilly cream and orange slices.

* For the sugar syrup, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
** For the frosting, mix the butter, cream cheese and cocoa until smooth. Add the icing sugar followed by the orange juice and orange zest and mix further, then lastly add the vanilla essence and whisk until the mixture is light and fluffy. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before use.



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