It's cake day - let's bake it and eat it

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Hendrik_Pretorius_Choc_Cake_with_Orange_Choc_frosting. Image supplied by Jagcomms
Hendrik_Pretorius_Choc_Cake_with_Orange_Choc_frosting. Image supplied by Jagcomms
  • Cake Day, which is honored every year on November 26th, is more than deserving of its own celebration.
  • Cakes are perhaps one of the most delectable baked foods humanity has ever created, and the huge variety of cake recipes and styles available continues to astonish.
  • Four graduates of the Capsicum Culinary Studio who are all making waves in the baking world share their favorite cake recipes.

“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.

READ MORE | Bride orders jail-shaped cake and more strange weddings social media users have attended

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 (Instagram: @pastry_by_hatice) and caters for all occasions.

cake, recipes


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 

cake, recipes


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, softened226g cream cheese1 tsp vanilla essence                     

¼ teaspoon salt500g 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.


Ferdinand October’s Chocolate Caramel Cake

An alumni from Capsicum Culinary Studio’s Cape Town campus, Ferdinand October runs his own business called Simply Pastries and can be found on Facebook or contacted at 083 727 6966.

Cake Ingredients

100g cocoa powder

330ml boiling water

270g cake flour

10g baking powder

3g bicarbonate of soda

7 extra large eggs

440g light brown sugar

250ml sunflower oil

For the Chocolate Pouring Ganache

150g dark chocolate

250ml cream

40g butter

For the Chocolate Spreading Ganache

250g dark chocolate

250ml cream

40g butter

For the Caramel

2 tins caramel treat


Preheat oven to 170°c and prepare two 22cm pans with spray and cook and line the bottom with baking paper. Whisk the cocoa powder and water until smooth and set aside. Sieve together the flour, baking powder and bicarb into a bowl. In an electric mixer attached with a whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. Slowly add the oil while still mixing on fast speed. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the liquid cocoa and mix. Divide the batter into the two cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean. Remove from oven and leave for 10 minutes before removing from tins to cool further.

For the pouring ganache: Place the cream in pot over medium heat and bring to just before boiling point. Pour hot cream over chocolate, add butter and lave for 5 minutes. Mix until smooth and glossy. Set aside  

For the chocolate spreading ganache: Place the cream in pot over medium heat and bring to just before boiling point. Pour hot cream over chocolate, add butter and leave for 5minutes. Mix until smooth and glossy. Set aside.

To assemble the cake, cut both sponges horizontally into two even layers. Place the first layer on a plate and spread evenly on top half a tin of caramel. Repeat with second and third layers. Place final cake layer on top and place cake in the fridge for 60 minutes to firm up. Remove from fridge and spread chocolate spreading ganache all around cake. Place the cake back in fridge for 30min. Remove from fridge, place on a drip tray with a pan underneath to catch excess pouring ganache and pour over the pouring ganache. If the pouring ganache has cooled and became thick, it can be reheated in the microwave until slightly warm. After the pouring ganache has been poured over the cake, leave the cake on the drip tray for 5 minutes. Get creative and decorate to your liking.

Credit: information provided by Jagcomms

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