Phew – the posts are coming thick and fast, but I knew I’d be leaving you all on a cliffhanger if I didn’t blog about the final result!
In the last two posts I talked about making my gran’s 80th birthday cake, and making the passion fruit curd to fill it with. In this post, I’ll show you how to (really easily) make the buttercream icing and put it all together. The only ingredients at this stage are for the icing and decoration, and there are only three of them!
INGREDIENTS: 750g icing sugar, 375g soft unsalted butter, 100g white chocolate. (‘Happy Birthday’ candles are optional)
- Make sure the butter is soft and use a hand mixer to blend it a bit in a big bowl. You might find it easier to do this icing half at a time, as moving this much butter around is tough on the old arms!
- Once the softened butter is mushed a bit, add the icing sugar a little at a time, using the beaters to mix it into the butter after each addition. Don’t be tempted to put it all in at once, you’ll create an icing sugar cloud, sneeze a lot and make a very big mess.
- When all the icing sugar is mixed in, beat until completely smooth and soft.
- That’s it! You can add a splash of vanilla essence, a hit of lemon zest or anything else that takes your fancy, but this is the basic ratio of butter/sugar for buttercream icing.
ICING THE CAKES:
- Cut each cake horizontally through the middle (its easiest with a serrated knife) and spread a thick layer of the passion fruit curd over the bottom layer of each cake.
- Then spread a layer of buttercream over the curd. It doesn’t matter if they mix a little bit, it’s going to be covered.
- Put the top of the cakes back on their bases.
- The larger cake will be your bottom layer. Its easier to pop it on your serving plate/stand before you start icing the exterior, so do that now. I also placed the bottom cake upside down, so that I had a very flat surface to place the next cake onto. It doesn’t matter if the base is a little wonky as you can hide that with icing, although it shouldn’t be too bad if you flattened the top as suggested in part one.
- Buttercream the top of the bigger cake and then place the sandwiched smaller cake on top. Try and get it central.
- Now buttercream the top of the smaller cake, then go round the sides of both cakes, making sure they are completely covered.
- TIP: If the butter wasn’t quite soft enough and you’re still finding the buttercream a bit hard (this can make it tricky when doing the sides) add a tiny splash of boiling water and beat into the mixture. That will soften it nicely but will allow it to harden again when it cools.
- Make sure you fill in any gaps between the two cakes, and any gaps at the bottom. A good idea is to use palette knife once the whole cake is covered. Dip it in hot water and then run it along the sides to create smooth edged and a smooth top.
- To finish it off, melt the white chocolate in the microwave, or over a pan of simmering water if you prefer. While this is melting, get a sheet of baking paper, and place on a tray.
- Once the chocolate is melted, pour into a piping bag with a pinpoint round nozzle – the sort you’d use for writing letters.
- Decide on a shape and then pipe outlines onto the baking paper, followed by some patterns inside the shape to connect all the edges (for stability). I went for tall triangles and filled the insides with zigzags.
- Pop the tray into the fridge until the chocolate has set. The pieces will then come away from the paper really easily.
- How you use them is up to you. I used my tall shapes to stand on the lip between the two cake layers, but they’d also look great forming a sort of teepee on top if you didn’t have candles.
So there you have it. Quite simple really, but very effective. Other ideas could include using milk chocolate for the decorations as a contrast, different colours of icing for each layer or even ombre icing if you were feeling really adventurous!
If you are looking to feed a crowd this is a great cake. By the time we served it everyone (40 plus people) had eaten a lot of food, so we cut it into small squares, like you’d get at a wedding. It probably would have fed twice as many people and several people went home with a chunk! This can also be iced the day before, covered in clingfilm and left somewhere cool. So if you have a big party to plan, you can get this done ahead.
There will now be a short break for the baking bandit. Quite a lot to do in the next few weeks. But its my dad’s birthday at the end of the month and we’re having another party, so I’m sure there will be another cake.
Most importantly – a good wedding cake? I am just looking for something small and white to cut, and some of our friends will hopefully provide a few extra cakes so that we can feed everyone.
Sweetness and that fuzzy ‘too much sugar on my teeth’ feeling to you all,
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
Today I am trying to embrace our great British weather and I’m already on my second set of clothes for the day, having taken the dog out in torrential rain earlier! July? Summer?! I laugh in the face of summer…. To combat that feeling, here’s a little injection of summer in cake form.
Yesterday I had the delight of attending a lovely little celebration for two very special ladies. Donna and Kaz were celebrating 10 years of making beautiful jewellery at their Edinburgh studios and what celebration, I ask you, is complete without a cake?!!? Oh, and maybe some wine…. but they had that bit covered.
So I took a little time out on Friday afternoon to make a lovely layered lemon cake. Now I may have had a slight ulterior motive for making them this cake. As well as celebrating their success, I was keen to try out this recipe as a possibility for a lemon cake for our wedding next year. I am liking the idea more and more of a proper cake table, with a variety of smaller cakes at the wedding, so I thought I’d test this one out on some willing guinea pigs!
This recipe was adapted from the excellent Primrose Hill Bakery’s ‘Cupcake’ book.
Cake ingredients: 225g caster sugar, 225g self raising flour (sifted), 225g butter (room temp), 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 25g cornflour, 4 large eggs, zest of 2 large lemons and juice of 3 large lemons.
- Preheat oven to 170 (fan oven) and prepare 2x 20cm round cake tins. I grease and line the sides and base so that the cakes come out with a smooth finish. This is important for presentation because the sides aren’t covered in icing.
- Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy in one bowl, and mix the dry ingredients in another bowl.
- Add the eggs one at a time to the butter/sugar mix and beat between each addition. Then add the floury mix a bit at a time, mixing after each addition. The mix will seem quite stiff but add the lemon juice and lemon zest and it will be come a bit more runny. Its not a particularly runny cake mix though, so don’t worry.
- Divide between the two tins and then pop in the oven for 25 minutes. Poke a cake with a skewer to check they’re done after this time. The cakes will be pale gold but not particularly dark.
Pop the cakes on a rack, still in their tins, for about 10 minutes and then take them out the tins and peel of the paper. You should have two lovely smooth-edged cakes. Now leave them to cool. Don’t be tempted to ice a warm cake – it’ll go horribly wrong!
Icing ingredients: 120g butter (room temp), juice of 1-2 lemons (depends how lemony you like it. About 3 tablespoons works well), the zest of those lemons and 500g sifted icing sugar.
- When the cakes are cool, place the one you decide to be the base on your serving plate. You can turn the cake over so that you have a flat layer to work on. My cake had risen quite dramatically in the middle, so I cut the top off to make it flatter – it just depends how professional you want it to look.
- To make the icing, put the butter, lemon juice, zest and half the icing sugar into a bowl and beat. I do this by hand with a spoon to stop the icing sugar flying everywhere, but you can use a mixer or even the food processor. Then slowly add the rest of the icing sugar until its all combined. If you think the mixture still looks a bit stiff add a bit of water or some more lemon juice, but remember you want a thick mix that won’t run.
- I spread a layer of lemon curd over the first cake, to add another level of lemony-ness and then followed with a layer of icing – about 1/3 to 1/2 of what’s in the bowl.
- Plop the second cake on top – again you can invert it to get a flat top on your cake, but thats just about preference. Personally, I like the top a little rounded.
- Spread the rest of the icing over the top of the second cake. Use a palette knife moving in the same direction all the time to create a swirl in the middle of the cake.
- You can leave it like that, or finish it off with some nice sugared lemon slices.
I forgot to take a photo until I had already put the cake in the box to take with my to the gallery, so this is what it looked like from above:
On the night, I didn’t have any (I had eaten the bits I’d had to cut off earlier in the afternoon) but several people at the event commented how nice it was, so hopefully we have a winner! Next time, when I have a little more time to plan, I may make some nice sugared daisies to decorate, just for that real celebration feel.
Have a good weekend everyone – don’t forget your wellies!
Well, maybe it doesn’t go with EVERYTHING, but it is immense, and should be eaten as often as possible. Yesterday I posted a recipe for lemon meringue shortbread which used lemon curd and I commented on how I’d made my own. Now there’s a lot of good lemon curd available in the shops, but its so easy to make, and tastes way better homemade, so I thought I’d share this recipe. Now I realise its not strictly baking, but it can be used in so many recipes, including baking, that I thought it earned a spot on the blog.
Lemon Curd: 2 level tablespoons of cornflour, 100g golden caster sugar (you can use the refined white stuff if you like – that will give it a yellower colour), finely grated zest of 2 lemons, juice of three lemons (or two if you prefer it sweeter and less lemony), juice from a small orange, 85g of butter, 3 egg yolks and one whole egg.
- Put the cornflour, caster sugar and zest into a saucepan with the lemon juice and heat gently. Add water to the orange juice to make it up to 200ml and then pour that in as well. Top Tip: pour the orange and lemon juice through a strainer to catch any bits or pips – you don’t want them messing with your lovely smooth lemon curd!
- Cook and stir over a medium heat until the mixture smooths and thickens.
- Take off the heat and beat in the butter, which you’ll need to cut into cubes.
- When cooled a little add the eggs and beat that in too. It will still be hot, but too hot and the eggs will scramble, which you really don’t want.
- Return the mixture to the heat and keep stirring. It’ll thicken up. Keep going until the mixture ‘dollops’ off the spoon. Then take off the heat and set aside to cool.
You could use the mixture now as a filling for a lemon tart of meringue pie, or you can store it for later. If you want to store it, it’ll need to go in the fridge. Sterilise some jars (it filled two small ones) and pop it in. When the jars are completely cool pop them in the fridge. Because of the fresh ingredients, the curd will only keep for about 1-2 weeks. Frankly, that’s long enough for it all to go in our house!
Here are some ideas of things to do with the lush new addition to your fridge:
- Have it for breakfast! It goes on toast or crumpets, but also lovely swirled into yoghurt with some fruit
- Put it in a cake! Makes a change from a strawberry jam Victoria sandwich, just spread in the middle of a sponge layer cake and then cover the cake with lemon butter icing.
- Have it with ice-cream! Made a great sauce.
- Give it away! Wrap a circle of brown paper around the lid and tie with a ribbon. Hand it to someone else who loves lemon curd.
- Stick a spoon in the jar when no one is looking! Ssssshhhhhh. I won’t tell if you don’t.
Love and Lemons,
Today I had the pleasure of visiting my lovely friend and her extra scrummy new baby girl. I wanted to take a present that was as sweet as her sweet baby, so yesterday I had a lovely afternoon concocting in the kitchen. I turned up the radio and made a LOT of mess.
These little treats are based on Mr. Bandit’s love of lemon meringue pie. I wanted to find a small and pretty way of getting that taste without having to make a full-blown dessert. Whilst I’m a fan of the biscuit base for the pie version, these little mouthfuls needed something less crumbly, so I’ve gone for a shortbread base. Here’s what I did….
Shortbread base: 75g butter, 125g plain flour, 25g ground almonds, 25g icing sugar, one egg yolk (hang on to the white!)
- Sift the flour, almonds and icing sugar into a big bowl – big enough to get your hands into!
- Cut the butter into small cubes – it should be straight out the fridge and cold. Plop the cubed butter into the bowl and using your fingers start squidging the butter into the flour until you get a mixture like breadcrumbs. I find that rubbing the mix between my hands is very effective. Just make sure you’ve got really clean hands!
- Break up the egg yolk and then plop that into the bowl too. Use your hands to work the egg into the mix. It’ll form a dough quite quickly. Keep going until its smooth and forms a nice ball.
- Flatten the ball of dough a bit and wrap it in clingfilm. Pop it into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Get the oven ready by heating it to 150 (for a fan oven, maybe a tad higher if you don’t have a fan oven). Once you have your shortbread chilled, you need to work quickly. As soon as it warms up it gets much harder to work with. Roll it out to about 1/3 to 1/2 a centimetre (not too thin or you won’t be able to get them onto the backing tray), and then use your cutter of choosing to cut them out. I used a fluted round 4cm cutter, but anything that will produce a similar size will work. You could even cut the dough into strips rather than circles. Place all your cut out pieces on a baking tray, on baking parchment, and then stab them all over with a fork (not too violently!).
When you have all your cut out shortbread, get dolloping with the lemon curd. I made my own lemon curd (I’ll post the recipe for that too) but you can use a good quality bought one if you don’t fancy making it. The cheap stuff out of the squeezy bottles is no good because it runs, rather than sets, in the oven. You should have something like this….
Spread the lemon curd over the shortbread. This is what makes the meringue stick, so if you just leave it dolloped in the middle, the meringue ‘hats’ will come off. Be as generous as you like. I think I was a little mean with this batch – I’d up the lemon curd content next time.
Meringue hats: whites from two eggs and 100g of caster sugar.
- Put the egg whites in a clean bowl that’s big enough to get a hand mixer or a whisk into. Whisk them until they form stiff peaks.
- Now SLOWLY add the sugar as you continue whisking, and keep going until the mixture goes all glossy and the peaks stiffen again (oo-er).
- Top Tip: don’t try and add the sugar before you’ve got the egg whites to stiff peak stage and don’t try and add the sugar all at once. Both of these things will leave you with a gooey mess that won’t stand up.
What you do next all depends on how much of a faff you can be bothered with. I put the mixture into a piping bag with a large star-shaped nozzle and swirled the meringue onto the top of the shortbread. You could just snip the corner off a freezer bag and use that as a home-made piping bag (I’ve done it many times, its very effective) or you can use two teaspoons and put a blob of mixture on each shortbread.
Put your little treats in the oven and leave to bake into wonderful goodness for 30 minutes. You should be left with something that looks a bit like this….
These would make a wonderful gift at any time of year, although they are particularly summery. The lemon could be swapped for all sorts of things, and if you have a favourite shortbread recipe, just use that instead. This recipe makes about 25 of these little beauties. They are quite delicate, so if you’re giving them away maybe put them in a small bowl and then wrap that in brown paper – looks lovely! I love these so much, I’m thinking about using them at the wedding….
Bake well my friends