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It’s been a while since I have been creative in the kitchen. My new camera has been taking up most of my attention and I have been photographing everything except food – supposedly the reason I got the camera was to take better photos of my kitchen creations, but oh no, the creations of my camera lens have been luring me away from culinary exploits.

So today I got back in the kitchen. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I wanted to photograph this cake, I would have been wandering far and wide with my beloved Canon snapping photos of rusty wire, lichen covered fences and cows instead.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Cake.

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Glorious Cake.

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Is there ever a time when a slice of good cake is wrong?

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Didn’t think so.

I have had this hydrangea cake on my mind for a while. Ever since I saw this cake on Pinterest.

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As soon as I saw it I thought of two things. Firstly, these cute little sweets.

Sweet as

And secondly, these.

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So pretty.

Today was the day, so armed with a piping bag, unreasonable amounts of butter and icing sugar, and oodles of food colouring I started work on the Coconut cake I baked last week.

First, make buttercream. You may need to multiply the recipe 2 or 3 times depending on the size cake you are icing. The quantities I used today were 375g of butter, 4.5 cups icing sugar and a couple of tablespoons of cream, and I had quite a bit left over.

Because I wanted the cake to have two layers with a filling in between, and I don’t like the filling to spill out and ruin the icing, I first piped a dam of buttercream around the bottom layer to contain the filling, like so.

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Now it’s time for the filling. Sometimes I make my own passionfruit curd, but this time I opted for a store bought version which is rather delicious.

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Spread filling inside the dam you created with the buttercream

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Resist the urge to lick the spatula clean, then place the other layer on top.

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See how the sides of the cake cinch in the middle? Don’t worry. We can remedy that with buttercream.

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Observe how the application of buttercream has evened up the sides so they are now (more or less) straight up and down. That is good.

Eating buttercream has the same effect on my waist. That is not good!

Anyway… what I have done here is the ‘crumb coat’. It is not particularly important for this cake is it is more dense and doesn’t really crumble. I have done it mainly to even up the shape of the cake and provide a bit of a background for the flowers. But, you know when you are trying to ice/frost a really crumbly chocolate cake and crumbs go all through your buttercream and it looks really messy? What you need to do first is a crumb coat to seal in the crumbs, then refrigerate for half an hour or so until it sets hard and then do top coat of frosting. The crumb coat doesn’t have to be neat and it doesn’t have to be thick, in fact it should be very thin. It just has to be enough to seal in the crumbs and even up the shape.

Moving on. When I made the buttercream, I put a few drops of lilac food colouring in to provide the colour for the lightest ‘flowers’. Using a #21 Wilton tip in the piping bag, I piped ‘flowers’ randomly over the cake.

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I then squeezed as much of the buttercream that was left in the bag, back into the bowl and added more food colouring to get a slightly darker colour, and then piped more flowers…

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Then repeated the process with the addition of a few more drops of food colouring to the remaining buttercream…

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And again…

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Gradually filling in all the gaps until the cake is completely covered and you have used almost an entire bottle of food colouring.

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It really is an easy way to decorate a cake, especially when using graduated colours as I have done. If you were to use different colours like the cake that was my inspiration for this, you would have to divide the buttercream into separate bowls. add the different colourings to each bowl, and use different piping bags for each colour or, if using a reusable bag, wash and dry the bag between each colour. That sounds very fiddly to me.

Because I am lazy of the overall effect I was trying to achieve, I wasn’t too concerned about the colours mixing. I just kept refilling the bag with the ever darker mixture.

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And I am quite pleased with the end result.

What about you? What colour/colours would you like to try with this technique?

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