Coffee Kahlua Crown Cake

The very wonderful Mary Berry has filmed a new series ‘Mary Berry Cooks’ which aired this week (Mondays 8.30pm, BBC2), and this week’s subject matter was Afternoon Tea.

This is a type of meal which is fairly close to my heart for obvious reasons and also a treat I like to indulge in, in celebration of life events. The idea that on a regular basis anyone needs 4 ‘meals’ a day is fairly ridiculous, but like the feasting we enjoy at Christmas, weddings and other high days and holidays, Afternoon Tea, preferably at a posh hotel and accompanied by a glass of Champagne to go with the tea and goodies really must sum up what we Brits do best to make you feel special. I had Tea at the Ritz as part of my Hen Party (a million years ago), and I had no problem convincing a whole bunch of female friends and relatives to munch through fabulous sandwiches, scones and cakes for an hour or two, despite the usually obsequious diets most of them generally adhered to.

Anyway, coming up with cake recipes and ideas these days is much like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, there’s not much left that hasn’t been tried already, however, reminding others of, perhaps forgotten, treats is the name of the game here.

IMG_1192This is, as the title of the post suggests, Coffee Kahlua Crown cake. Meringue on top of cakes is a bit of a favourite of mine from the aesthetic point of view and although I have offered up something similar before it was a bit of a half-baked (!) affair, this is far more sophisticated both in looks and flavour.

So essentially we have a coffee walnut sponge cake, 6 smallish meringues, butter icing and glace icing to decorate. Where to start; making the meringues perhaps.

Very straight forward really, the day before you plan on making the cake, you will need 3 medium egg whites and 150g caster sugar, you can add pinches of salt and vinegar and vanilla extract, but it’s not necessary, egg whites and sugar is enough!

So whisk the egg whites so that they form stiff peaks but the mixture hasn’t gone over and become ‘dry’. This is clear when you see it so whisk more circumspectly as you reach the stiff peak stage to see off this point. Then, turn the motor on the whisk down a bit and start adding dessert spoonfuls of sugar gradually allowing each spoonful to be fully incorporated before adding the next one. You are aiming for a stiff, glossy white state. It must hold it’s shape. You can colour the meringue if you wish at this point using colour pastes ideally, or not as the case may be.

Preheat the oven to 120°C/Fan 100°C and cover a couple of baking sheets with greaseproof paper. You can then either pipe the meringue using a nozzle like this → IMG_0756

or just use 2 teaspoons to create blobs, a bit bigger than a golf ball, spacing them with room to expand a little on the baking sheets. this amount of mixture will probably make about 12.

Bake for 1 – 1.5 hours until hard to touch and slightly browned. Leave the door of the oven ajar to let them cool.

They will store for a couple of weeks in an airtight tin.

Next the cake: a Mary Berry recipe if the truth be told (and she must be credited) with a minor tweak.

So you will need: the oven on to 180°C/Fan 160°C, grease and line the bases  of two 8″ sandwich tins.

The ingredients are as follows: 4 large eggs, 2 heaped teaspoons of instant coffee powder (use the fancier instant espresso as it’s more of a powder and less granular), 225g soft butter, 225g caster sugar, 225g self-raising flour, 2 level teaspoons of baking powder, 50g chopped walnuts.

It couldn’t be easier, crack the eggs into a jug and add the coffee powder and whisk together (yes really), weigh out all the other ingredients into a bowl and then add the egg/coffee mixture. Beat together until smooth. Divide between the two sandwich tins and level with a spoon. Bake for 25 minutes or so until a small sharp knife blade comes out clean and the cake is starting to come away from the edges. Leave to cool in the tins initially and them remove to a wire rack until cold.

To assemble: for the buttercream you will need 75g softened butter and 210g icing sugar, 1.5 tablespoon of milk and 1 tablespoon of Kalhua. Begin by beating the butter and sugar together, slowly initially to incorporate the sugar into the butter otherwise there will large sugar clouds everywhere. Then add the milk and Kahlua and turn up the mixer to beat quickly for 5 minutes. Stop half way through and scrape the sides down to ensure everything is mixed evenly.

IMG_1191Lay the bottom half of the cake on a plate or cake stand, level the top of this layer with a long sharp serrated knife if necessary and then, coat with 2/3rds of the buttercream. Layer the top half of the cake on top and check whether it appears level. Spread the remainder of the buttercream thinly over the top of the cake and place the meringues (probably around 6) on top of the buttercream.

As a final flourish pop two spoonfuls of icing sugar in a small bowl and add just enough Kahlua to give a thick runny consistency so you can drizzle. Using a teaspoon go ahead and drizzle this icing over the meringue and cake. Dust with a little cocoa powder if you like.

The crowning glory of an Afternoon tea.

Sour Cherry and Velvety Chocolate Loaf Cake

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Light as a feather and velvety smooth with a delicious tang in the aftertaste, this is wonderful.

I have made it my New Year’s resolution to think up more cake recipes. I have found in the past that I have shied away from actually developing my cake ideas as the precise nature of baking demands skills in construction I felt I was lacking in.

Are there rules with these things?

Once you get past a basic sponge (a foolproof method is supplied here), it does seem from recipe books that there are no hard and fast rules for success. Unpicking the secrets however seems easier with American style recipes so I have started with an offering borrowing some ideas and ingredients from across the pond.

I had an urge to buy buttermilk and a packet of sour cherries this week, now that the supermarket shelves are clear of the festive staples, without any real plans. Consequently the kids ended up with blueberry buttermilk pancakes this morning, and once the buttermilk pot was open this cake idea followed swiftly on behind. It has gone down very well. It tastes great, warm or cold and all the cherries have not sunk to the bottom!

You will need: one large loaf tin the base of which should measure around 19/20cm x 8/9cm and around 6cm deep.

Ingredients: 190g Unsalted Butter, softened, 190g Caster Sugar, 3 large Eggs, 150g Plain Flour, 50g Cocoa Powder, 1 tsp Baking Powder, pinch of Salt, 125ml Buttermilk, 75g (1 packet) Sour Cherries (dried), 1 tbsp Kahlua (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C/Fan 150°C, grease and line the loaf tin with greaseproof paper. Just screw it up into a ball and smooth it out again and then line the tin with it, nothing too precise.
  • Pop the sour cherries in a bowl and steep in the Kahlua, if using, otherwise cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using something like a kitchen aid or hand-held mixer.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, slowly, and beating well between each addition.
  • In a separate bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and then sift gradually into the egg mixture folding carefully as you go. The mixture might seem a little dry but never fear as you are about to fold in the buttermilk followed by the sour cherries and their residual liquor if using.
  • Dollop carefully into the loaf tin and push gently into the corners then bake in the oven for about an hour. Check after 50 minutes or so and you can turn the oven up 10°C if you wish at that point. Anyway a cake tester should come out clean.
  • Leave to cool in the tin initially on a cooling rack and remove from the tin and greaseproof paper once just slightly warm.

You can eat this warm or cold, with or without cream, yoghurt, custard etc. The moist interior means it works just fine on its own. However a little piece of luxurious eating at this abstemious time.

The American influence would be the buttermilk and dried fruit in a sponge recipe, a combination I adore, but hasn’t really caught on here …… yet.

Pumpkin Cupcakes Every Witch Way

I’ve been promising the recipe for making pumpkin cupcakes for a couple of weeks, but of course, timing is everything so about now seems to be the optimum moment.

You can make the actual little pumpkin shaped cupcakes using either the following pumpkin flavoured recipe or a standard vanilla cupcake cake recipe which you can find here (make sure you use a large egg). The buttercream again can either be a standard recipe, such as given in the vanilla cupcake link substituting vanilla extract for orange essence for a nice twist, or again the recipe given below.

So you will need: 12 cupcakes or however many you wish, enough buttercream for the number of cupcakes you wish to decorate, orange coloured sugarpaste (allow 80g per cupcake so 3 x 250g packets will comfortably decorate 12, probably more) a little brown sugarpaste or Matchmakers or a Cadbury’s flake for the pumpkin stalk. Orange, black and green coloured sugarpaste is currently available in supermarkets.

Equipment needs: small palette knife or flat knife, 10cm pastry cutter or similar, a paintbrush or something to make a small round indent.

1) peel the cake cases away from your cupcakes

2) coat the sides and top of the cupcake in soft buttercream with the palette or flat knife

3) roll out about 80g of orange sugarpaste so that it measures at least 20cm diameter

4) Flop the sugarpaste disc over the buttercreamed cupcake and using the pastry cutter trim the disc to 10cm diameter

5) Tuck all the edges round the bottom of the cupcake

6) Sit the cake upright and using the back of a knife, score the pumpkin ridges

7) Using the end of a paintbrush, make an indent on the top of the cake in the centre, and then insert either a little piece of Matchmaker or Cadbury’s Flake or if you have the ‘where with all’ a small piece of brown sugarpaste fashioned into a stalk.

8) Tah Dah!!! Made by 8, 12 and 42 year old bakers….

9) Alternatively you can buy stencils which can be used to create Halloween-y images, once you have iced your cupcakes in the conventional manner, with cinnamon or cocoa powder.

Pumpkin Flavoured Cupcakes

Tricky to get a good bake and a good flavour it seems. I’ve had trouble with the straight Hummingbird recipe (wouldn’t rise) and the flavour of others can be a bit too spicy. This recipe worked for us though, giving the right amount of spice and a rise on the cakes,

For 12 cupcakes: 140g Plain Flour, 1½ tsp Cinnamon, ¼ tsp Nutmeg, ¼ tsp Ginger, ¼ tsp Salt, 1 ½ tsp Baking Powder, ¼ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda, 55g Butter softened, 100g Caster Sugar, 2 ½ tbsp Soft Brown Sugar, 1 Egg, 80 ml Milk, 125g Pumpkin Puree (you can make it or buy it in Waitrose!)

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Fan 170°C and fill a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Into a bowl combine the flour, spices, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate or soda. Stir together and set aside. In another bowl combine the sugars and the butter and beat together ( I would say until light and fluffy but there is so much sugar here I don’t think you will achieve light and fluffy). Add the egg and beat into the butter sugar mixture until smooth, add the milk and the pumpkin puree and beat until combined. At this point it will truly look like a horrible mess, just press on. Stir in the flour mixture lightly until just incorporated and then dollop the batter into the paper cases.

Bake for 25 minutes or so until brown on top and springy to the touch. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out.

Once cold coat with the buttercream.

Buttercream with Maple Syrup

90g Butter, softened, 270g Icing Sugar, 1 tbsp Milk, 3 tbsp Maple Syrup

Pop the butter and icing sugar in a bowl and beat together until combined. Add the milk and maple syrup and beat slowly until incorporated and then turn up the speed on the mixture and beat for 5 minutes or so until light and fluffy. It should be very soft to spread.

Alternatively you can use a classic cream cheese buttercream: 50g Butter, softened, 300g Icing Sugar, 125g Cream Cheese, cold. Beat together the butter and icing sugar until well combined and then add the cold cream cheese and beat on a medium speed until you have a soft fluffy icing, about 2 minutes. Do not beat as ferociously as the standard buttercream or for as long as the cheese cream will render the mixture runny and it won’t pipe or spread well.

Pumpkin Puree

Cut up the pumpkin flesh into chunks and pop in a roasting tin with some water in the bottom. Cover with foil and bake until tender on 180 – 200°C. Once cooked, drain any remaining water away and blend until smooth.

Happy Halloween

Strawberry Glut Rain Delay Trifle

Ok, I promise this is the last of the strawberries and cream for a little while, but in my defense, Child 2’s strawberry patch has been extremely prolific despite the weather and we are ankle-deep in them. This doesn’t excuse the relentless presence of cream I know, but don’t be alarmed, I shall balance all this decadence out with some low-fat, low carb ideas very soon!

So whilst we were watching the tennis excitement on Sunday a rain delay struck, very helpfully, at the point where my better half and I felt we should really make a few dinner plans and have a cup of tea. The following dessert had vaguely been discussed over the weekend as Saturday morning’s charity bakeathon had left us with an orange sponge traybake to use up. My better half thought he might fancy his hand at a trifle recipe using the said sponge and the endless heaps of strawberries and so with a small amount of guidance from me produced this:

The kids, who are always reluctant to eat too much fruit, were charmed by this after a nervous start as there is no sherry involved and the strawberries seemed to maintain a low profile compared to the other components.

This is a fantastic way to use up left over cake. Quantities of cake, fruit, custard and cream are not critical at all and will depend on the number of mouths you have to feed or possibly how much left over cake you have.

You will need: some plain-ish Sponge Cake, Jam, Strawberries, Pimms, Lemonade, Custard either bought or homemade and Whipped Cream.

  • Begin by making up the Pimms, 1:2 Pimms to Lemonade so stronger than normal. 2 shots Pimms and 4 shots Lemonade should be enough for a regular quantity of trifle (4-6 servings). Pour the Pimms and Lemonade into a saucepan and heat until boiling and then simmer for a minute or two to boil off the alcohol. Allow to cool a little.
  • If your cake doesn’t already have jam in it, then make jam ‘sandwiches’ with it and then cut the sandwiches into fingers and arrange a generous layer in the bottom of your bowl, we used morello cherry jam but raspberry or strawberry would be fine too.
  • Pour the cooling Pimms mixture over the sponge and let that soak in whilst you wash and slice up some strawberries (around 200g). Add them as a layer over the cake.
  • Spoon on about 300-400ml of ready-made vanilla custard, for the size above, or make up some however you usually do having let it cool down to some degree before you spoon onto the strawberries. Cover with clingfilm at this point, to stop a skin forming if the custard is warm, and allow it reach room temperature then chill in the fridge.
  • Just before serving whip up about 300ml of whipping cream and spread over.
  • Decorate with whole strawberries or slices if you wish.
  • Yummy

For anyone who is wondering how the Turkish Delight turned out it is on my Facebook page. Click on the link on the side bar to have a look.

I have a cheeky request for anyone who is feeling charitable today. I need one more FB like for my Cutest Cakes Facebook page to receive stats info, so if you do go and see the Turkish Delight and have an account please could you consider ‘liking’ my account if you haven’t already. Also many thanks and to all the new follows here and the ‘likers’ over on FB that I have already.

I love you all.

From Alaska to The Black Forest via SW19

So my fascination with meringues continues and as I promised an easy chocolate cake recipe I have decided to combine the two. I know this looks a bit extreme, very ‘over the top’ but as you breakdown the components, just think gateaux not cake.

I saw the idea for combining cake and meringues in Annie Bell’s book Gorgeous Cakes, and admittedly, she had much smaller morsels of meringue adorning her’s so if you are deliberately making a batch to top a cake you might like to scale accordingly. Also the meringues can be used as art, so the above cake (more of an unfinished experiment) has the currently ubiquitous Union Jack/ Wimbledon theme echoing through it, whereas meringues which are a deeper pink and purple might make this cake seem more like a crown or feed into the Black Forest gateaux idea. Another scenerio might be to colour the meringues with caramel, either actual or food paste, and then drizzle chocolate over the top to give a more sophisticated look. The possibilities are endless!

I think this one would be called Death by Strawberries and Cream as the strawberry sauce drizzled across it gives a delightful grizzly sense of that….

So we have meringues as described in the previous post which you can find here and then:

You will need: 225ml of double cream, some strawberries (or fruit of your choice or not as the case may be), strawberry sauce (optional), reduced sugar Morello Cherry Jam and a Chocolate Cake.

The Easiest Chocolate Cake

This is my Mother’s recipe and is the cake that was baked typically for birthday parties when I was a child. I’m going to give the quantities in imperial as that is how the recipe comes, with an approximation of the grams etc.

6½ oz (187g) Self Raising Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

2 heaped tbsp Cocoa Powder (sifted)

2 large Eggs

5 oz (150g) Caster Sugar

¼ pint Milk (150ml)

2 tbsp Golden Syrup

5 oz (150g) Butter or Margarine, melted and allowed to cool a little

Preheat the oven to 300 °F/Gas 2/ 150°C/Fan 130°C. Grease sides and bases and then line the bases of 2 7″ sandwich pans, the non-loose bottomed, old fashioned type, and add about a tsp of flour to the bases. Turn the pans on their sides and tap the flour round the sides of the tins to coat, tip out any loose flour.

Combine all the ingredients and whisk to form a smooth batter with a balloon whisk or using a paddle attachment with a mixer.

Pour into the prepared tins.

Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack.

That is it! There is nothing to it. I love this recipe as it takes us back to an era, essentially post WW2, when eeking out ‘fancy’ ingredients was a necessity: 2 eggs, 2 tbsp of cocoa powder. This is not a rich chocolate-y cake but something of it’s time. My Mother’s generation can still seem nervous to bake a cake with four eggs in it. Sponge cakes, in particular, I’m often asked how I get to ‘look like that’,

‘Well for starters it’s got four eggs in it.’ The decadence of it!

‘Really, four eggs in this cake!’

Yet the Baby Boomers are the wealthiest sector of the population by far, own their own houses, foreign holidays all the time, pay the grandchildren’s school fees etc., but the post war rationing they grew up with still colours their baking view.

Anyway, once you have made the cake and meringues, it is an assembly job.

Reduce Sugar Morello Cherry Jam: great stuff, more like cherries set in jelly, not runny and not too sweet, a bit of a must with everything else that is going on. Widely available in supermarkets. If you need to, level the base layer of the cake just a touch using a large sharp knife, and use about ½ the jar of jam as filling. Then sit on the top layer. Whisk the double cream until stiff. You could use half cream half 0% fat greek yoghurt instead, or whipping cream, and spread over the top of the cake. Arrange your strawberries and meringues as you wish. Drizzle with strawberry sauce. This can be bought, or made using misshapen strawberries, a dessert spoon of sugar and the same of water. Heat in a saucepan over a moderate heat until you have a jammy mush, press through a sieve into a bowl to remove the seeds and heat again until thick and treacly. Allow to cool and drizzle with a spoon or if you can make a greaseproof piping bag, go that route.

Epic.

The fact that the cake itself is not too rich does help here, but this really is for those with a sweet tooth. Fridge any left overs due to the cream. It is still good with coffee the next day.

If you want just a basic chocolate cake use the chocolate fudge icing, method given here to fill and coat the top with the following quantities: 3 oz (75g) Icing Sugar sifted, 1 oz (25g) Cocoa Powder, sifted, 1½ oz (40g) Stork Margarine or Butter, 2 tbsp Water, 2 oz (50g) Caster Sugar.

N.B. Strawberries were courtesy of Child 2’s strawberry patch, thanks muchly gorgeous creature (despite the lack of front teeth) ♥.

Simple Soft Fruits

So we are deep into the soft fruits season and given the expense and uneven ripening of some (peaches, apricots, nectarines) at the point of purchase it can be very tricky to have enough of any one thing to convert into a delicious dessert. I also feel that for many of the summer fruits, red and blackcurrants aside, the least fuss the better. Washed and used as an accompaniment to other things seems the best way forward.

A couple of ideas: pancake pouches with soft fruits, and the old favourite, a vintage sponge. Of course, the ever-present strawberries and raspberries below can be replaced with sliced peaches, nectarines and whole cherries if you have them.

Pancake pouches

I first saw these on Pinterest just as an image and the pouches looked perfect. I can’t imagine how the author/baker managed to get the batter to form little cauldrons into which the fruits can be spooned, but the version we ended up with went down a storm with the kids and can definitely be served up at breakfast as a low faff option or as a pudding with ice-cream as well as fruit. The origins appear to be mini German or Dutch Pancakes.

1 cup or 250ml milk
6 eggs
1 cup or 130g flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. orange zest (optional)
1/4 cup or 60g butter, melted

Sifted Icing Sugar for dusting

  1. Pouches with ice-cream and fruit

    Preheat oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C. Blend first six ingredients (milk to orange zest) in a blender.  Be careful to see that any flour clumps get well-blended.

  2. Blend in butter a little at a time in order to temper the eggs.
  3. Grease muffin tins very well with butter and distribute batter evenly between 18 holes, slightly less than half-full per hole.  Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until puffy and golden on top.
  4. Remove carefully from the oven and allow to fall back and cool down for a few minutes before carefully teasing away from the hole with a small palette knife or similar, arrange individually or together on a plate and dust liberally with icing sugar.

Borrowed from realmomkitchen.com. Bless them, although the recipe appears to be a traditional one.

These are really gorgeous in taste and this method allows one to make pancakes of a morning without the batch cooking. They basically behaved like Yorkshire puddings, for those Brits reading this, but do not cook long enough to set in the puffed up state have a lovely gooey texture too. Yummy. You might need to trial this a couple of times to get the pouch effect and just less than half full as opposed to just over half full in the bun holes seems to work better.

Vintage Cake with Soft Fruits

Just a reminder really that a simple sponge see Easy Peasy Vintage Sponge Cake with soft fruits and cream can create a wow factor like any beautifully iced cake and is far less fuss. Just one word of caution: don’t be tempted to substitute whipping cream for double, it can’t cope with the weight of the top tier so well.

And just for good measure food marriages with soft fruits include:

  • raspberries folded into whipped cream with a ¼-½ tsp of rose-water,
  • peaches cut in half, sprinkled with a little brown sugar and grilled, top with Greek yoghurt and chopped, toasted pistachios,
  • and strawberries with chocolate.

My Mother’s Easy Peasy chocolate cake recipe coming very soon.

Rubbing Shoulders with Mary Berry

So I have had clearance to use some images of my exciting meeting with Mary Berry recently, and therefore whilst everyone is really distracted with all things Jubilee, I will pop up a few pictures.

The event: Age UK (formerly Age Concern) rebranding launch.

The Place: Brasserie Blanc, Bath (very lovely and very very lovely staff)

The Photographer: kerrywho, fellow blogger (thanks for the gorgeous pics)

The Supplier: Waitrose who kindly donated all the ingredients I needed. Many thanks to them.

The Logo cake was a 12″ vanilla sponge, split and filled with jam and buttercream. The Logo was achieved using run outs. The cupcakes were the old favourite Hummingbird Bakery vanilla recipe and the toppings were vanilla buttercream with sugarpaste details and a small amount of royal icing piping. The colour scheme was carried through from the Age UK Logo. The designs were designed to show a range of skills.

Mary was very intriguing to meet and it was hard to resist pumping her for endless advice (the new Great British Bake Off series begins in July). She appeared to approve of the work however. A very memorable morning and as Kerry (the photographer) pointed out, possibly the pinicle of one’s career. This could be very true.

 The Bath Chronicle picked up the story and also the social events magazine, Bath Life. Excellent publicity. Thank you to Age UK for arranging that.

Finally, these lovely ladies from the local Waitrose Branch allowed me to take a picture for the blog and asked me to pass on a message: the store is currently undergoing a major refit and they ask all the customers to bear with, the pain will be worth the gain. Can’t wait.

The Cutest Cakes bake for Age UK and Mary Berry judges

Reblogging this whilst I check the copyright, The Cutest Cakes provided 100 cupcakes and the Logo cake for Age UK rebranding launch in Bath yesterday. The cake guru Mary Berry came, can you spot the familiar face? And well done Kerry, fabulous photos including the gorgeous one here.

Click on the ‘reblogged from’ link above for the pictures.

Age UK previously Age Concern, launched their new branding today at the Francis Hotel Bath. I was asked to come along to photograph the event. This is the first editorial event that I have covered so it was a learning curve. All went well but I think I need to be a bit more assertive with the human beings. I found myself holding back as I didn’t want to come across as a stalker.

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Easy Peasy ‘Naked’ Vintage Sponge Cake for all Occasions

So it was the night before Mother’s Day and I had a call from the daughter of a friend of mine who was seeking assistance with a cake idea she had for a Mother’s Day gift. As I dealt with her requirements an idea formed in my mind to create a post illustrating just how straight forward it can be to make something really sumptuous to look at, and eat, without it requiring vast amounts of equipment and know-how.

Icing a cake with royal icing or sugarpaste is quite a challenge if you are after something which gives a sophisticated air and can be used at a birthday or anniversary event. However ‘naked’ cakes I think might take off in the near future as the current craze for all things vintage appears to go hand in hand with this particular style. Giving a wispy, romantic air and decorated to suit any colour scheme, I have seen both vanilla and chocolate sponge versions either as a single cake or in a tiered arrangement. Clearly they don’t last like iced cakes would but can be assembled at the last-minute very effectively and can be fridged at least overnight perfectly well.

You will need: a pretty plate to sit the finished cake on and a cake stand if you can get hold of one, fruit, flowers (fresh or sugar), double or whipping cream, 2 or more layers of sponge, plenty of icing sugar.

Stage 1 – Making the cake

The one featured here was a 3 egg plain vanilla sandwich.  I began by weighing the eggs and then used that weight to govern the amount of butter, sugar and flour used. 3 medium eggs on this occasion weighed 180g so I weighed out 180g each of butter, caster sugar and self-raising flour.

  • Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/Fan 150°C.
  • Grease and line the bottoms of 2 6″ sandwich pans.
  • Cream the butter and sugar by beating them together in a mixer or with a hand-held whisk until you have a light, fluffy consistency.
  • Crack the eggs into a jug and whisk together a little and then start adding to the sugar/butter mixture a little at a time beating well between each addition.
  • Once combined fold in 1 tsp vanilla extract followed by the sifted self-raising flour.
  • Split the mixture between 2 6″ sandwich pans, and bake for around 25 minutes until the sponge springs back when pressed. Leave in tins for 5 mins then remove. Cool on a wire rack.

This amount of mixture will generously fill 6″ pans, but I think this adds to the charm of this sort of cake. An alternative approach could be to dollop this mixture into a deep 6″ cake tin and bake for around an hour instead. If you wish to make an 8″ cake use 6 medium eggs, weigh them as above and that will provide the quantities of butter, sugar and flour needed. Again the mixture can be cooked in sandwich pans or a deep tin, and the timings will need to be increased too to 25-30 mins or 1 – 1¼hrs respectively. For 10″ cake, I suggest seeking further advice, but it is possible and there are specialist books around to advise on ingredients and cooking times.

Stage 2 – Filling the cake

Once the sponge is cold, whip around 200ml of double cream to the soft peaked stage, that is whisk until beaters pulled up out of the cream cause peaks to form which flop over a little. and fold in the fruit of your choice. I like to use blueberries and raspberries, but you could use strawberries or grapes, sliced instead. I often also add ¼tsp of rose-water which has a lovely affinity with raspberries. Whatever you wish. Pile the fruit/cream mixture onto the bottom layer of sponge and ensure you spread it around right up to the edges. A lovely thick layer. Position the top layer of sponge. Then dredge with icing sugar, sieved on the cake and around the sides as far as possible by tilting the cake a little to allow the sugar to stick and then carefully transfer the cake to the clean presentation plate.

If you have cooked the cake in a deep tin, it can be split twice to give 3 sponge layers and 2 layers of cream/fruit filling.

Stage 3 – Decorating the cake

In terms of the decoration: if you can make fondant roses, there are plenty of colour options for ready coloured sugarpaste these days so these can be made easily enough, alternatively with a little forward thinking fondant roses can be bought ready-made or you can simply use fresh flower heads of an appropriate colour and size. If using fresh, keep them in water until required and cut off all the stem. Fresh or fondant, lay on the finished cake with some perfect fruit specimens. Place your creation on the cake stand and stand back and take your applause.

It is possible to add royal icing piping to ‘naked’ cakes but I would practice first to familiarise yourself with the different surface texture.

I made the simplest roses to demonstrate that even with minimal detail the overall impression is extremely effective. Of course if you have a star cutter you can ‘finish’ the rose heads with a green calyx by covering the flower bases with a green star shape. Finally, if you are making roses then it is best to give them at least 3 or 4 hours to harden before use.

Further discussion on Sponge Cake and making Buttercream feature over on the Baking: Recipes and What not Page.

Apology.

 I had a couple of typos in the previous post regarding the Cake Sale. In my dazed and excited state it appears I didn’t run the spell checker through the piece! I should therefore like to apologise.

Help for Heroes Cake Sale – Many Thanks – £430 raised!!

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First off I would like to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who baked all these delicious cakes you can see above. The degree of assistance Running Buddy 2 and myself had in this area far exceeded our expectations. The official Help for Heroes posters billed the event as a ‘Colossal Cake Sale’ and I had been pondering to what the colossal referred. In our case it was quantity it seemed.

Generosity was in colossal supply as well. We have raised a fantastic sum and to all those who helped set up, clear up, wash up, fetch and carry, donate and ultimately consume we could not have done it without you, a truly collective effort. Thanks again.

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A little bit of festive bunting

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Expectant outdoor seating!

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Gorgeous and delicious: cards and cakes to go

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Martha’s Closet Vintage Clothing

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and last but not least beautiful potted violas for sale.

And Finally,

I think if I have judged this right this post will also coincide with 1000 hits to the blog, a double celebration and what a post for such a significant hit. Here’s to all the readers who have stuck with me.

Can I offer you a slice of celebration cake. x

Previous Older Entries

The Cutest Cakes: Classic Cakes

Lilies and Pearls

The Cutest Cakes: Cupcakes

Rosebud Vanilla Cupcake

The Cutest Cakes: Individual Iced Cakes

Miniature Fruit Cake

Details for The Cutest Cakes can be found at www.cutestcakes.co.uk or if you click the image on the side bar you will be transported there.