My lovely old gran (oooh she’d hate that description) is turning 80 this weekend. We’re having a big old shin-dig in her honour, which wouldn’t be a proper party without a whole heap of food. My cousins and I have been tasked with providing dessert, and I’ll be making the birthday cake. This is a bit of an epic cake build (yes, I used the word build) so I’ll be posting it in three parts, all of which are useful separately for different things. This first part is about the actual cake.
After much debate, I decided on a Madeira cake. I wanted something with a spongey texture and a certain lightness, but I also needed something that could be made ahead, and sponge cakes don’t last well. So whilst Madeira cake isn’t quite as light, its ability to last a week or so in the fridge made the decision. Madeira cake is denser than sponge, so it also cuts better, which is especially good when you want a cake to slice into lots of small pieces without crumbling.
I decided to make both cakes needed at the same time, but I don’t recommend this unless you have very strong arms or a stand alone mixer! Its a lot of mix for one bowl.
20cm Cake Ingredients: 250g butter, 250g caster sugar, 5 eggs, 185g plain flour, 60g self raising flour, 1 tbsp milk, zest of a lemon
23cm Cake Ingredients: 310g butter, 310g caster sugar, 6 eggs, 230g plain flour, 75g self raising flour, 2 tbsp milk, zest of 2 lemons.
- Heat the oven to 150 degrees
- Make sure the butter is a room temperature and beat together with the sugar.
- Beat the eggs into the mix one at a time. I find it better to break them into a bowl first (as in the picture above) so that you don’t end up putting a bad egg in your mix.
- Once all the eggs are in, sift in the flour and stir, but don’t beat out all the air that you’ve just put in.
- Stir in the milk and lemon zest.
- Prepare the tin: You need to line the sides and the base as its a relatively long bake and you don’t want it to burn or get too dark.
- When the oven is at the right temperature, pop the bigger one in for 1 hour and 30, and then check but it will probably need about another ten minutes. The smaller cake will take about 10-15 minutes less, but again just keep an eye on them. Make sure they are cooked through, but don’t let them get too dark.
- Once they are cooked, pop on a cooling rack, but leave in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out.
When the cakes are completely cool, you might need to give them a bit of a haircut. Mine came out having risen rather violently, and if you want to stack them, they will need flat tops.
Don’t worry if it looks a bit dramatic once you’ve trimmed it, because you’ll cover it with icing. If you don’t intend to ice it, there’s no need to chop its head off!
The final stage of cake preparation is to pour a lemon syrup over the cakes. For this, mix lemon juice and sugar to taste (I like it very lemony but some prefer it sweet) and put over a low heat until the sugar is disolved.
Use a skewer and poke holes all over the cakes but don’t do too many or your cake will fall apart! sprinkle the mixture over the cakes but don’t overdo it, as you don’t want to oversaturate the cake. You want to try and do this while the cake is still warm, as the mixture will soak in better.
When the cake has cooled, wrap in cling film and then in foil. The cakes will last about ten days in the fridge.
In the next post, I’ll blog about the passion fruit curd filling…. yummy!
Bake well my friends