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.

Poptastic Cake Pops

Well, of course, the beauty in blogging is that I can in fact digress if I wish from the job in hand and comment on the day in general. I would like to say that it has been snowing here for the last 5 hours at least and there is still not a single flake which has settled on the ground. Quite frankly it is very disappointing!

So instead, to cheer myself up, I shall talk Cake Pops. Essentially they are a ball of cake crumbs and buttercream mix attached to a lollipop stick and coated in either chocolate or a hard sugar-coating. I had a go recently and mine looked like this:

As is usual with these things, I believe they were originally developed in the US by the very clever Bakerella who has written books about how to decorate them to look like the heads of cats, miniature cupcakes and Minnie Mouse’s silhouette. All very lovely and seemingly very fiddly.

To make the ones above proceed as follows: ideally the day before make a plain or chocolate madeira cake, I made a 3 egg madeira with 150g each of sugar, butter or margarine, and self-raising flour. Cream together the butter and sugar, slowly add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, add a drop of vanilla extract and then fold in the flour. This amount of mixture will fill an 6″ square tin (or 7″ round) which should be greased and lined. Bake at 160°C/145-150°C fan for about 45 mins – 1 hour. Alternatively use a standard sponge cake box mix to produce a similar quantity. Allow to cool then wrap in greaseproof and store in an airtight tin until needed.

Alternatively Sainsburys sell Madeira Cake so I reckon 2 of their standard rectangular blocks of Madeira would give an equivalent amount.

For the cake pops you will need lollipop sticks (available online at Amazon, or from Lakeland Limited), half a tub of Betty Crocker Buttercream style Icing and about 250g or so of Plain Chocolate. Then proceed as follows, from the lovely Yoyomax12 on You Tube, it is far easier to watch what to do than have it described,

I did exactly what she did

A couple of pointers; the exact amount of cake and buttercream is not critical so leftover cake is a very good idea, but do reduce the cake to crumbs not just lumps. Add a conservative amount of buttercream and then a little more if required to achieve a playdough consistency. This is a dough which is adhering to itself not the bowl and can be moulded. Practice balling it before deciding whether you have added enough buttercream. If you still have chunks of cake in the dough it will cause the balls to crack which will then cause problems down the line. Dark chocolate coats much better than milk.

I have to say it was all very exciting, and used up the endless tubs of sprinkles, dragees, sugarpaste hearts, stars, hundreds and thousands and I could have got stuck into the kids sweets collection too, Everything appears to stick. I ended up with 18 pops.

N.B.

  • I don’t believe chocolate cake is necessary if you use chocolate butterceam as the finished dough as you can see gives all the appearance and taste of chocolate,
  •  I think they might be nice with red velvet cake mixture and plain buttercream (I’m going to trial this although I think in order to retain the red cake colour a little colouring in the buttercream might be needed) coated with a really lovely dark chocolate, as a Valentine’s Day idea.
  • They do fall off the stick very easily, so eat them over something suitable.
  • You can use something called candy melts to coat instead.

I had a comment on my Facebook page that apparently they are big in Australia as well as the US but they are still taking off here in the UK. From what I have observed we don’t seem so bothered about new ideas, cupcakes have been popular, definitely, but not so much with the Whoopie pies maybe. Perhaps it’s as Bill Bryson wrote in Notes from a Small Island ‘ we don’t mind what you do to our main course but don’t mess with our puddings’ or words to that effect. Maybe we feel the same way about cake.

I’m quite into chocolate however so I enjoyed the one I tried and found the size perfect.

The Cutest Cakes: Classic Cakes

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The Cutest Cakes: Individual Iced Cakes

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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.