Not everyone is a born culinary god or goddess, but if you’re determined to get to grips with baking, it’s time to distinguish between your salt and your sugar and get busy in the kitchen. Birthdays are an excellent reason to dust off your apron and turn the cooker on, as almost everyone loves a slice of birthday cake. Plus, if your friend or family member is a big bingo fan, we’ve got just the thing for you to try out – a bingo card cake!
If you’ve suddenly broken out in a cold sweat at the prospect of taking on this impressive baking challenge, don’t panic. The joy of the American-style bingo card is that it’s rectangular in shape, so there’s no need to worry about round tins, shaving sections off, or having to create super sized, complex structures. Plus, if you’re worried about trying to ice the bingo numbers, you can always ‘cheat’ and buy ready-made iced numbers – simple!
Great occasions for cakes
Bingo card cakes aren’t just perfect for birthdays; they’re also ideal if you’re organizing your own bingo party at home, or helping celebrate the anniversary of two people who met while playing bingo. If you’re still feeling nervous about tackling a large cake, it’s also worth considering starting smaller with cupcakes that you could quickly color and number to look like bingo balls.
The easiest way to design your cake is to use rectangular baking trays. It’s up to you whether you wish to keep things simple by just cooking one layer and icing the top with something yummy, or cooking two layers and placing a filling such as jam or butter icing in between the two.
If the lucky recipient of your cake is a big chocoholic, why not make a mouth-watering chocolate cake for them? Start by pre-heating your oven to 350° before greasing your cake tin, and then grab a mixing bowl. Into your bowl, you’ll need to add two cups of all-purpose flour, two teaspoons of baking soda, two teaspoons of baking powder, and one teaspoon of salt. Don’t forget to sift the flour before adding it to your bowl! Once you’ve mixed these ingredients together, put the bowl to one side and grab yourself a medium-sized saucepan. Add two cups of water and two cups of sugar to the pan and bring it to the boil while stirring. You’ll know when it’s done as all the sugar will have dissolved. Once it’s ready, pour the contents of your pan into another bowl and add four ounces of unsweetened chocolate and six tablespoons of unsalted butter to the contents. The heat of the water/sugar mix should melt both the chocolate and the butter and once this is done, let the mixture rest until it’s cooled before stirring in one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Next, you’ll need to beat in two eggs (if you’re new to the whole baking experience, please don’t forget to remove the shells first!) Finally, grab the bowl that you made up earlier containing the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder, and add it to the second bowl, then beat it all together with a food processor on a medium speed until the mixture takes on a smooth consistency.
By now, your oven should be nice and warm, even if your kitchen looks like the entire contents of your cupboards have exploded everywhere! Grab your baking trays and divide the mixture evenly between the two, and pop the trays into the oven for around twenty-five minutes. We recommend that you set a timer for about twenty minutes to check that your cakes aren’t getting too brown – if they are, simply take them out of the oven a little earlier than you’d planned. To check if your cake is completely cooked through, put your palm on the top of the cake once it’s cooled a little and is comfortable to touch, and press it lightly. If the top springs back up, take a metal skewer and slide it gently into the middle of the cake, and check there’s no residue when you remove it. If your cake fails one or both of these tests, just put it back inside the oven for a few minutes more and repeat the tests again until it passes with flying colors.
The icing on the cake
The easiest way to ice your bingo card cake is to cover it in ready-to-spread white icing, which you can buy from most grocery stores. You can then use a red or black ready-made icing mixture in a piping bag to draw the edges and the lines on the top to form the six-by-five grid. Take some pre-made sugar numbers and letters in a color of your choice if you don’t fancy piping them, and get ready to add them to the top of the cake. For added personalization, you could add your friend’s name (provided it’s five letters long) or another greeting instead of the letters B, I, N, G, O across the top row. Then add your numbers randomly to each column, sticking to the traditional format of 1 to 15 in the first column, 16 to 30 in the second column, 31 to 45 in the third column, 46 to 60 in the fourth column, and 61 to 75 in the fifth column. Again, you could add the recipient’s name to the familiar ‘Free Space’ in the center to make it even more special.
All done and dusted
Now all you need to do is stand back and get ready to accept a huge round of applause for your efforts. Alternatively, if you’d like to inject even more fun into the proceedings, you could write down the bingo ball numbers you’ve used on your cake and put them into a hat or dish. When you’re ready to cut the cake at its great unveiling, each guest can draw a random number and receive the relevant square of the cake. For the icing on the cake (pardon the pun), you could even give each guest a mini prize too!