Love is in the air and all that… well, it’s definitely in the supermarket aisles and search engine ads! My friends would probably tell you I’m not the most romantic person alive, but I’d like to point out I’m not completely cold-hearted – I do love cake. I was indecisive about doing a Valentines Day post at all, you know, it’s pretty much everywhere around this time, so who wants more mushiness thrust upon them? But I relented, realising it’s a pretty good theme for baking around, so got to developing my idea.
I wanted to make something I hadn’t done before (which isn’t difficult at this point in my baking career), so started looking around the blogs and google images. There is so much creativity to be found in bakery it’s quite amazing…but that can also be off-putting. I like to think I’m being original in what I do, but you soon come to see that almost everything has been done before in some guise. (At this point I just looked across at a candle on my desk and thought ‘Candle Cake!’ but a quick google search put me swiftly back in my place). It’s fair to say, if you can see something, someone has probably baked something to look like it!
For this project then, the motto should be a big wet slippery ‘KISS’ – Keep It Simple, Stupid! A cake based on love itself – light, indulgent, something to share, but something you don’t want too much of or you’ll be sick. A 4 layer rose and vanilla flavour white cake, with buttercream filling and frosting. Simple but effective.
The time I made this was the Monday night before a Shrove Tuesday pancake-filled day of filming for FFfood!– a group of people I’m a part of, which is trying to get ‘alternative’ foods into everyone’s cooking repertoire, or at least into their thoughts. It’s a tricky idea to get across, but we’re giving it a go! That said, this recipe isn’t gluten-free or dairy-free or wheat-free…but then, love isn’t for everyone at this time of year! The hurried effort is the reason I didn’t get any making of pictures, and for that, I apologise. Must try harder.
The white cake recipe I found here at Busy Cooks over on About.com. It’s a nice easy to follow method, with good results. The recipe for white cake calls for cake flour, but I had to substitute it for a plain and cornflour mix, courtesy of Joy the Baker, as the UK doesn’t allow flour with bleaching agents in. A healthy if inconvenient law. This recipe made a lovely moist, light crumb, which was exactly what I wanted to alleviate the sugary overload of the frosting!
The frosting recipe comes from Alice Currah over at Savory Sweet Life and turned out really well, smooth and creamy but not so sweet it makes you diabetic overnight. This was my first time I had to do a crumb coat but it all went well, and the refrigerated cake took the final frosting like a champ! I also found out that without the right colourings, frosting can take a lot to get to the shade you want. I wanted the heart and banding to be deep red, but I actually think this pink works better with the off-white off the buttercream, so I’ll put that down as a happy accident. By the way, if anyone has tips for perfectly white buttercream frosting, please leave them in the comments below, thanks!
As for the decoration, I wanted something plain but with a bit of texture to catch the eye. Once all the frosting was on, including the pink bands at the bottom, I just lightly ran a spatula around from the bottom up in one continuous move, all the way up the sides and then in from the outer edge of the top to the centre, creating a spiral. I then used a #2 icing tip to draw the heart on, then blended it out slightly with the edge of a knife.
I shot this blog using only natural light and a piece of card wrapped in foil, and it looks a lot better than the pictures in my first post. A lot better! I’m quite lucky to have large windows in my flat, as it’s part of a conversion of an old mill, so the windows are almost 6 feet square and let in lots of lovely natural light, even in these wintry days. If the building adjacent wasn’t there, it would be like living on a cloud in here! Okay, maybe not, but there’d be a lot more light. I have plans to rectify this, the results of which will be included in my Guy Fawkes blog later this year 😉
I used Taylor & Colledge Organic Vanilla Bean Extract for both the cake and frosting, and Star Kay White Rose Water as a sneaky addition to the white cake. The Taylor & Colledge extract has a much more intense aroma than the Dr Oetker extract I had been using before, so used a little less than was listed in the recipe, but the vanilla scent from the cake in the air in my flat is delicious! I was almost not going to use the Rose Water, as I’d read a lot of warnings about how it can taste soapy if you put too much in, or just odd if you don’t use enough. I best guess’ed it and matched the amount of vanilla extract, and the result was great! It has a really nice subtle flavour just hanging around in the background, which gives the whole cake a slightly softer taste to it all. Lovely! I had my first slice with a cup of Afternoon Tea Blend from Graze, which has a blend of Assam and Kenyan leaves, and went quite nicely with it.
I promise to take more pictures for my next post, but this one was a last-minute affair, with a lot of filming and editing and babysitting all around it!
Music ingredients used to bake this post includes…
- A random iTunes playlist based around Mirror in the Bathroom by The Beat (aka The English Beat)
- The ‘Into the Wild’ soundtrack, by Eddie Vedder (my favourite song is ‘Guaranteed’, and if you haven’t seen this film I strongly recommend it!)
- SomaFM PopTron on internet radio which plays a cool mix of electrop and indie dance rock, great for when energy levels are dwindling and the thought of sleep is strong!