Delightfully Decorative

Gluten Free Chocolate Orange Betta Cake

Back in December it was my boyfriend’s birthday, when I asked what he wanted for his cake he just said “our fish”. So I dutifully made him a Fajita the Betta cake. Fajita sadly passed away a little while ago, so in loving memory of him here is how you can make your very own replica.

He consisted of fluffy chocolate cake, encased in a chocolate orange ganache, which is simply delicious. You can choose your own flavour but I’ll put a link to the recipe I used.

I now almost regret putting him on his side as he looks a bit dead.. maybe you could experiment with creating a fish swimming in water.


You will need:

  • Foam drying mat (optional)
  • Stand or hand held mixer
  • 8 inch round cake tin
  • Spare cardboard or paper
  • Scissors
  • Baking paper or silicone mat
  • Rolling pin
  • Tape measure
  • Sharp knife
  • Cake smoother
  • Small cake brush
  • Fluffy cake brush
  • Round 10 inch cake board
  • Cake lifter (optional)

Ingredients:

  • Double quantity of chocolate cake
  • Chocolate orange ganache
  • 500g white fondant
  • 50g white modelling paste
  • Paprika gel food colour (or your choice of Betta colour)
  • Black powder food colour
  • Silver powder food colour (optional)
  • A small lump of black fondant or black gel food colour
  • 100g Blue fondant

Step 1

Cut out a semi circle for the back fin, and the shape for the top and bottom fins in paper or cardboard. Add some paprika food colour to the modelling paste or the colour that you want your Betta to be. Divide the paste into three, with two smaller and one larger section, then roll these out extremely thin. Follow the templates to cut out the shape of the fins with a sharp knife. Cut small incisions in the edges of the smaller fins.

Step 2

If you have a ball tool thin the edges of the modelling paste fins. Place on a foam drying mat in a position with ripples and let this solidify from contact with the air. If you can, leave this over night to make sure it stays firmly in the shape you placed it.

Step 3

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F gas mark 3)

Bake the chocolate cake according to this chocolate cake recipe or follow your own, baking 4 layers of 8 inch round cake. Leave to cool completely.

Step 4

Whip up the ganache according to this chocolate orange ganache recipe and leave to set to a consistency that is spreadable.

Step 5

Whilst the ganache is cooling draw the shape of your Betta body (without fins) on a piece of cardboard and cut out. Place this across two cake layers side by side, so that the cake is long enough for the body, then cut the cake around the template with a sharp knife.

Step 6

Cut out the same shape with the remaining cake. This will be the top layer when stacked to add height. Using a knife slice small cuttings from the top layer, so that there are no corners, rounding the body.

Step 7

Add the paprika gel food colour (or main colour of your Betta) to the white fondant and knead until the colour is even. Measure the width and height of your cake with a tape measure then roll out the fondant on a silicone mat, in a oval shape slightly bigger than the measurements you just took.

Step 8

With the ganache fill the joins of the cake pieces and between the stacked layers, then spread ganache all over the cake once stacked.

Step 9

Lift the rolled out fondant on to your arms to support it, then cover your cake. Smooth with a cake smoother (if you have one) and trim the edges with a sharp knife.

Step 10

Make a small round dent with a knuckle where you want the eye to go. Roll a small bead with the back fondant in your hand then roll out a long thin line that you wrap around the bead, trimming any excess. Slightly dampen the dent and place the black bead in it.

Step 11

Lightly run the knife across the gill and mouth line so that it leaves scars but does not pierce through to the cake. With the trimmings from covering the cake, roll out a small line the length of the gills and a tear drop shape. Pucker the line, then smooth one side into the covered cake to join the gill, lifting the other edge to ensure it stands out. Blend in the tip of the tear drop at the bottom of this and score lines across the tear drop to make a small fin.

Step 12

Score small semi circles along the body with a sharp knife to make the fish scales.

Step 13

With the fluffy brush, dust black edible powder around the eye and under the gill fading outwards. You want the head to be darker overall than the body, so tap excess powder off the brush then slightly skim the crevices of the rest of the body to create shading. I also brushed a line of silver down the centre. You can even use a drop of spirit with the black powder to create a paint for a few finer details using the small cake brush, such as lines along the small front fin.

Step 14

With the black powder, brush from where the modelling paste fins will meet the body in strokes that fan out across the large fins. This should be easier now the modelling paste is set.

Step 15

Roll the blue fondant out in a circle that is just over 10 inches. Smooth this on to the cake board and trim the edges. Lift the body of the cake into the center on the covered board. If you have a cake lifter this is much easier.

Step 16

Using a knife make a small cut where each of the modelling paste fins will be placed, about half way off the board. Gently push the fins into the cake and place something underneath to support the fins until the cake is firmer.

You can see here the tail will hover above the surface. Excuse the candle in the mouth but it was a birthday cake, so candles are obligatory.

Thanks for reading.

In loving memory of Fajita, who never stayed still long enough for a decent picture.

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