Pad thai cake

by Lucy Charles

A cake inspired by the flavours of Thailand

This recipe is the cover star of my book, Cakeography, and the first cake David Griffen, the photographer, ever tried. I took this cake to our first meeting to tell him my story. Incorporating some of the key ingredients of the famous noodle dish, this cake combines the essential Thai elements of salty, sweet, sour and spicy. I love it, he loved it and I hope you will too.


175g soft butter

175g caster sugar
175g self-raising flour
3 large eggs

1 tsp baking powder
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime

For the frosting:
75g very soft butter

150g icing sugar

3 tsp tamarind paste (thick, dark concentrate, not the light/more liquid ‘pulp’)

35g salted peanuts
½ tsp hot chilli powder


Grease and line 2 x 18cm sandwich tins and preheat oven to 170C. Put all of the cake ingredients into a large bowl and mix using an electric whisk until thoroughly, but just, combined. Do not worry if the lime gives a slightly curdled appearance, it will be fine. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and bake for 25-30 mins. They should have risen and spring back to the touch. Leave in the tins for 1 min or so, run a knife around the edges and turn onto a cooling rack. Peel off the lining papers and leave to cool completely.

Make the frosting. Using an electric whisk, beat together the butter and icing sugar until they have come together into a smooth mixture. Add the tamarind paste and beat again until it’s thoroughly combined, light and fluffy—this will take about 5 mins. (Note: the strength of tamarind paste varies a lot between brands so perhaps add 2 tsp, taste, and add more if you like. You want to end up with a sour, slightly tangy frosting).

Mix together the peanuts and chilli powder—I find it easiest to do this with my hands in a small bowl so the nuts get evenly coated. Chop them roughly into small pieces.

When the cakes are cool, sandwich them together with just under half the frosting and half the chilli nuts sprinkled on top. You can then either spread the remaining frosting on top of the cake or, as I like to, use a thin, wide nozzle to pipe it on to look like rice noodles! Sprinkle the remaining peanuts all over the top.

The cake will keep well for 3-4 days at room temperature.

Recipe: Lucy Charles
Images: David Griffen