I was on the phone when my daughter got home from school on Friday. While I was talking I was absent-mindedly looking at the small razor cuts which my fingers had sustained from cutting out stencils earlier.
The look of excitement and anticipation on my daughter’s face made me smile. As I waved her past me, she headed to the kitchen and I noticed some lingering glitter on the back of my hand.
She squealed, I excused myself from my phone call and waited for the noise to subside and get to the truth. What was she thinking / feeling? This was after all her birthday, a school day, and there was an enormous birthday cake awaiting her arrival…
‘Are you ok? Is…it….ok?’ I asked.
A nod. Then a more vigorous nod.
‘…and?’ I said, my questioning voice intoned with a soupçon of nervous anticipation.
‘OMG. It’s the best cake ever!’ Phew. Job done. Every Mum knows that moment when the birthday cake is revealed is imbued with excitement and just a pang of doubt, in case you’ve got it wrong.
So here is the cake. I made it and decorated it myself. It took ages and cost much more than I would probably spend in Patissierie Valerie, but it was worth every minute and every penny. Admittedly, the decoration could be better, but I err more on the side of Banksy than Jane Asher when it comes to cake decorating.
Underneath the lurid blue royal icing and boy band glittery stencil-work, lurks a red velvet cake.
I spent ages researching the recipe and they vary widely. I decided to go for one without beetroot or coffee and head for the buttermilk and red colouring paste version. I also swapped cream cheese based frosting for ready made Betty Crocker frosting as I thought it would be overpowering having already used buttermilk (which tastes like watered down natural yoghurt).
So here’s the recipe…my tweaks are bold and in brackets
I found this on All Recipes but there are loads of US recipes and great foodie bloggers too who have written up this one. It all depends on how confident you are with tweaking ingredients and cooking times.
250g butter, softened
600g caster sugar
2 tablespoons red food colouring
3 tablespoons best quality cocoa powder
375g plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 (200g) tubs cream cheese
350g white chocolate
250g butter, softened
Prep: 45 mins | Cook: 25 mins
(Add an extra hour for faffing around)
1. Preheat oven to 170 C / Gas mark 3. Grease and flour three 20cm tins.
(I lined mine with parchment to make sure I didn’t break it or lose chunks when I removed it from the tin (I speak from bitter experience)
2. In a large bowl, cream 250g butter with sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix food colouring with cocoa and add to mixture.
(I used I tablespoon of red food paste which works fine, I mixed it with the cocoa and because it was so dry added a teaspoon of vanilla, then lemon juice and then a tablespoon of buttermilk but only at the end to avoid it curdling with the lemon juice)
3. Add flour alternately with buttermilk. Add vanilla and salt.
(I just added the salt here as I’d already used the vanilla to mix the red paste)
4. Mix bicarbonate of soda with vinegar, and gently stir into mixture. Be careful not to over mix.
5. Divide cake mixture into three prepared tins. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Allow to cool.
(I used 2 9″ tins for this which worked perfectly. Cook time was a bit longer with 30-40 minutes. The practicalities are such that if you have a small oven you will need to swap the cakes around so the cake on the lower shelf needed longer)
6. To make the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing: Melt the white chocolate and allow to cool to lukewarm. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in melted white chocolate and softened butter. Beat until it is the consistency of whipped cream, then use to fill and ice the cake.
(For decorating this whopper, I used Betty Crocker vanilla frosting around the side of the cake and between the sponges. For the design on the top, I heated raspberry jam and smeared it on top before putting on the rolled out blue royal icing which was cut to size by using the base of a cake tin. The stencil I made myself by printing out two images of The Wanted on normal paper and cutting into them, one for the gold and one for the black. It took me about three hours and I used scissors, a Stanley knife blade and finely cut sellotape. I’d suggest getting someone else to help with the stencil, to ensure it stays in place while you sprinkle the edible glitter on. As you can see with mine, this has a blurred effect, which I rather like, but was accidental. I used a small paint brush to sweep away some of the excess glitter.
Next time I’m going to experiment with edible glitter and rice paper…but I’ve got all year to plan that one)