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.
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.
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.