Baking | "You Sound Like You're From Lanndann"
28 Mar 2013
I often make fancy birthday cakes for friends and family, and last weekend I went to stay with my boyfriend Craig for his birthday. Naturally, I therefore made a cake! Last year I made him iPhone cupcakes (check them out HERE) which still probably hold the record for the best thing I've ever made. This year I went for a London theme as he's always wanted to live here, and obviously from visiting me we have lots of London memories together. So for the baking inclined of you, here's the steps to make your very own 'London cake' :)
The actual cake is Red Velvet - its one of my all time favourite cake flavours, if you haven't tried it I seriously recommend it! The recipe I'm using is from The Hummingbird Bakery and is actually intended for cupcakes - but a small note states that for a cake you just need to double all quantities. Therefore to make a cake you'll need;
* 240g Unsalted Butter * 600g Caster Sugar * 4 Large Eggs * 40g Cocoa Powder * 80ml Red Food Colouring * 2 tsp Vanilla Essence * 600g Plain Flour * 2 tsp Salt * 480ml Buttermilk * 2 tbsp White Wine Vinegar * 2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda *
Frosting; (I used the amount specified for cupcakes, as I didn't need that much frosting)
* 100g Unsalted Butter * 600g Icing Sugar * 250g Full-Fat Cream Cheese *
* Coloured Icing of your choice *
Just thought I'd mention now - as you can tell from the ingredients, its not exactly a healthy cake. Completely worth the extra pounds though ;)
So first up you need to preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5/190 degrees, and line two/three baking tins depending on how many layers you want. Then you need to cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Break in the eggs one at a time after this, beating thoroughly after each addition and ensuring you incorporate the whole mixture. You might want to wear an apron at this point, as it can get quite messy with such a large mixture!
In a separate bowl - mix together the cocoa powder, food colouring and vanilla essence to form a paste. This part really does look like blood, tasty I know! Also, sidenote - my sponges ended up so red they were almost brown, so although it depends on the brand of food colouring you're using be careful not to over-dye at this point.
Add this paste to the batter and mix thoroughly. So far so good, right?
Then you need to sift together the flour and salt in another bowl (don't blame me for the washing up!) and add this to the batter in two batches alternating with the buttermilk and mixing thoroughly after each addition. Don't be lazy now. Please do actually sift your flour, your cake will taste all the better for it - I promise!
Finally, in another bowl (I hope you have enough bowls!) mix together the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar and add this to the cake mixture. This will fizz around when you first mix the two ingredients - adding an element of science to the baking and making you feel all the more cultured and less like you are just baking for fun. That's what I tell myself anyway. You can then evenly pour this into two or three lined baking tins, depending on how many layers you want and pop into the oven. If you're making two layers, each sponge should take about 30 minutes (it does depend on your oven obviously though - mine took 45mins!) and for three layers they should take 20 minutes each.
Once you're sure they're cooked (and a knife comes out clean) let them cool on a wire rack.
You then need to make the frosting (definitely an apron affair!). Beat the butter and sugar together, until there are no lumps of butter and the texture is sandy. Add the cream cheese whilst mixing together slowly. Once its incorporated, beat the frosting until soft and fluffy. Sometimes this feels like it's never going to come together, but it will, have patience and try not to eat it all before you've frosted the cake. :)
Once the sponge is cool, spread an even layer of frosting in between the layers and then lightly coat the outside to give the fondant icing something to stick on to. Pop the cake into the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up, making it easier to handle. Then roll out a sheet of white fondant icing and carefully smooth it over. Voila! You're all ready to decorate now. From here you can do any design you want, but for anyone interested in my London cake I'll briefly show you how I did it.
One really handy tip I find for rolling out fondant icing, is to roll it between sheets of baking parchment. You never get it stuck to the work surface/rolling pin/you and its a hell of a lot easier to work with.
I rolled out red, blue and white icing and used makeshift cutters (wine bottle screw lids/icing nozzles) to create the tube stops. My blue icing turned out to be a strangely soft consistency which meant I couldn't write directly on to it with food colouring pens - I therefore had to add little white strips to write the tube stops, slightly annoying but ah well. I rolled out blue icing to create the 'Thames', using a map I'd printed off to trace the shape for accuracy. I then moulded little London landmarks out of various shades of icing and affixed them to the cake with a dab of water to create a 'glue' and cocktail sticks. Before attaching the landmarks to the cake I put them in the fridge for a couple of minutes to harden and ultimately be a lot sturdier on the cake.
So there you have it! My London Landmarks cake. I do hope you can guess what they all are - they're pretty much geographically accurate, so hopefully they're quite obvious.
I really enjoy making cakes like these - obviously you want the Birthday recipient to enjoy the taste of the cake but its also so fun to make a more personalised effort with the decoration. I chose tube stops where me and Craig had frequented a lot or which held a significant meaning to us both. Originally I did make 13 tube stops - but I made them rather large so I couldn't use them all. Less is more and all that jazz.
Let me know what you think of my efforts, and if you've ever made a similar cake?!