85th Birthday Cake
This weekend saw my Grandma celebrate a real milestone birthday and, as the family's resident cake-maker, I was in charge of creating a special something. Here's how I made what I think is one of the best-looking cakes I've ever made.
The recipe I used is an adaptation of a basic Victoria Sponge one from Primrose Bakery, who have a fantastic app for the iphone with clear instructions and pictures.
Ingredients:315g self raising flour
335g caster sugar
1.5tsp baking powder
1.5tsp vanilla extract
340g butter (I use Stork)
6 eggs (medium, free range)
Method:1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees or gas mark 4. Grease three 20cm cake tins and line with a circle of baking paper on the bottom.
2. If you have a kitchen aid then bung all the ingredients in together and start the mixer. The recipe says to only blend it very briefly but I found it needed a good couple of minutes for everything to be mixed together perfectly. If you don't have a kitchen aid then roll up your sleeves, grab the wooden spoon and get mixing.
3. To achieve the colour I divided the mixture into three different bowls. My colouring of choice was Sugarflair Colours in Claret. I always use this brand for colouring and it goes so far. For the lightest pink I used a cocktail stick to put the smallest dip in and to get a more intense colour I just used a touch more.
4. Put the mixture into the tins and bake for about 20-25 minutes. As with all cakes you'll know it is done when you stick a knife in and it comes out clean.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:Once the sponges have come out the oven and cooled completely it's time to put it all together. To achieve the gradient look I had the darkest pink on the bottom and the lightest pink on the top. I sandwiched them together with a pattern of sponge, raspberry jam, vanilla buttercream, sponge, raspberry jam, vanilla buttercream and then the final sponge.
I used vanilla buttercream across all of the cake although changed the colour on the outside. This meant that I needed a lot of buttercream! (I don't really make cakes designed for those watching what they eat!)
Ingredients:1kg icing sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
Method:1. Give your butter a little stir to break it down into a smoother consistency, this will make it easier when you add in your icing sugar. Add in the milk and vanilla extract.
2. Add in the icing sugar at about 200g a time. This is a time consuming method and if you are doing it by hand then it is quite the workout, but it gives a fantastically glossy smooth buttercream and so is really worth the effort.
ollowing the pattern above I made up the cake and then I covered the entire cake in one layer of buttercream. This allows for a smooth service to then pipe onto. It doesn't have to be perfect as it will be covered.
Put the cake in the fridge for 15 minutes just to harden that layer of buttercream. In the meantime I take the rest of the buttercream and add some of the colouring I used for the sponges. Again I used a very small amount to give a lovely blossom pink colour.
At this stage I also added in a load more icing sugar. It's impossible to give a weight as to how much I added as it can be different each time and I judge it by look and feel. When piping I am looking for a thicker consistency of buttercream allowing for more control putting it in the icing bag and when it is coming out of the pipe.
DECORATING THE CAKE:For me this cake was a success as I finally got the right nozzle. The one I used is Kaiser 11mm:
I honestly had never successfully piped icing before in my life! And although this cake looks fancy it was really simple - I just swirled! Two layers of swirls on the sides and then circles of swirls on the top. If I did any of them wrong I simply scrapped them off and started again - anything that was left was then covered up.
Finally, I went round the cake at the end and if there were slight gaps where the swirls met one another then I just piped a dollop into the void.
I'm really chuffed with this cake and I hope if you make this it'll be a success for you too!