In the middle

30 Oct 2014
POSTED BY Y Magazine

Pretty piñata cakes are all the rage and the secret is in the centre. Cut it open and all is revealed, finds Kate Ginn

With its vibrant colouring and numerous layers, the piñata cake is certainly not the shy and retiring type. There’s more to this bakery item than meets the eye, however. Slice into those vivid slabs and you’ll find a sweet surprise waiting, with hidden treasures tumbling out from the centre, making for a double treat. Traditionally, piñatas are often associated with Mexico. The decorated containers made of papier-mâché are filled with small toys and candy before being broken for a ceremony or special celebration.

The confectionary version is based on a similar principle and has become the cake of the moment in both the UK and US, with recipes swapped on social media and Instagram awash with photos of amateur baker’s efforts. Supermarkets are stocking them and everyone wants one for their birthday or other celebration.

It appears the rule of thumb is the more over the top the better. Think icing of a shocking pink or electric blue colour in swirling patterns and eclectic designs.  “For a steer on piñata cakes, you need to ask: what would Katy Perry look like if she was a baked product?” says Poorna Bell, Lifestyle Editor of the Huffington Post, an American online news site. “Think lots of colour, as much random tat as possible from chocolate buttons to KitKats to multi-coloured M&Ms and Smarties. There is no such thing as too much.”

It won’t be long before the piñata makes its way over to Oman and into Muscat’s bakeries, so stay one step ahead and try making your own one first. All you need is a plain sponge base and a wild imagination. It’s great fun to do with kids, too.

Just remember, the key to a good piñata is all in the middle.

Recipe: Piñata cake



  • 460g butter, softened, plus 450g for the icing, softened
  • 460g caster sugar
  • 8 large eggs
  • 460g self-raising flour
  • Yellow, red, pink & blue food colouring
  • 900g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 90g Smarties
  • 90g M&Ms
  • 90g Dolly Mixture
  • 90g Jelly Babies

Feeds: Over 10


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas 4. Grease and line 4 x 20cm sandwich tins. Beat together 115g butter and 115g caster sugar until light and creamy. Add a few drops of yellow liquid food colouring and beat in. Sift 115g of the flour. Beat in 1 egg, then add 1 more egg and a spoonful of the flour. Beat again, then fold in the rest of the 115g flour.
  • Put the mixture in one of the cake tins and level the top. Repeat the process to make another layer of cake, colouring the mixture orange by combining yellow and red colouring. Then make a reddish-pink layer using just the red or pink food colouring and a blue layer with the blue colouring. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from the tins and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Using a spoon, mix the remaining 450g butter with the icing sugar, vanilla and 4 tbsp cold water until the sugar is just blended in, then beat until light and creamy.
  • Cut out 10cm rounds from the centres of the orange and pink sponge layers. Spread some of the butter icing in a ring on top of the yellow layer, leaving a 10cm circle bare in the centre.
  • Put the orange sponge ring on top of the iced yellow layer. Spread icing on the orange ring. Put the pink ring on top.
  • Fill the hole with the sweets. Spread icing on top of the pink ring, then cover with the blue layer. Put 2 heaped tbsp icing in a bowl and thin down with 2 tsp water. Spread thinly over the sides of the cake. Divide the rest of the icing into five equal portions. Put two portions together in a bowl and colour yellow. Colour the other portions blue, pink and orange (by mixing yellow and red or pink).
  • Get four plastic piping bags and cut off the ends. Fill each bag with a different colour icing. Pipe blue icing around the base of the cake, then use a palette knife to spread it around the sides of the first (yellow) layer. Pipe and spread pink icing around the edge of the orange layer, and orange icing around the pink. Pipe and spread some yellow icing around the sides of the top (blue) layer, then spread the rest over the top of the cake. To finish, make a spiral pattern on top using the back of a teaspoon that has been quickly dipped in boiling water.


You’ll need four layers of sponge for the cake, so if you only have two cake tins, bake them in two batches. When picking sweets to put in the centre, look for smaller ones that will tumble out when it’s cut.


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