Hydrangea Cake

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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?

in the pink

Today I made a cake. You may not think that is unusual for me given past posts on this ‘ole blog of mine, but in recent months I have not ventured into the baking zone very often. Today though, I had the urge to create something pretty. And tasty. There was also the realisation that my mother’s 70th birthday is looming and I needed to test a couple of recipes before I inflict them on her party guests!

Also, Mr INTJ’s daughter turns 16 on my mother’s birthday and I have been informed cake will be required for that occasion too. So it’s time to get back in the kitchen.

Today’s efforts have produced this little beauty. Isn’t it gorgeous?

 

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It’s a double layer vanilla cake, sandwiched with Lemon & Passionfruit Patisserie Filling from Barkers and generously coated in Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

 

And then I added some sprinkles.

 

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Because sprinkles make me happy.

And I may, or may not, have sprinkled a little pink sugar on it as well.

It’s almost too pretty to cut!

 

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I said almost!

 

Now, down to the nitty-gritty. Although I have a lot of recipes, I still needed to find a good all-rounder birthday cake that wasn’t chocolate so I decided to try this one from Smitten Kitchen. Now, if you look at recipes from USA they often list ‘cake flour’ as one of the ingredients. I’ve looked in every supermarket I have been to for cake flour and never found it. But not to worry. Joy the Baker comes to the rescue and explains how to make it yourself here.

The Lemon and Passionfruit filling was easy – it’s a store bought one from Barkers that I have been eyeing up for months. When I went to get some yesterday it was on special (yay!) but unfortunately it appears Barkers may be deleting it from their range as the links on their website no longer work. I hope I am wrong as it is delicious and so much easier than making passionfruit curd from scratch.

And the Swiss Meringue Buttercream… ahhhh. It’s soft, and light, and fluffy, and not overly sweet like regular buttercream. I had been avoiding trying to make it for years thinking it was doomed to fail – I had read about people giving up because it just turned into a curdled mess. But apparently the secret it to whip it. Whip it good! And it comes back together beautifully. Mine seemed to just work without the curdled stage. Thank goodness for my Kenwood mixer! Anyway, the recipe is here – again from Smitten Kitchen.

Now that the taste testing has been completed, I can confirm today’s efforts have been a success and I will be making this again. And again.

And again.

cream cheese frosting

Cream cheese frosting

250 grams Cream Cheese

100 grams butter

2 cups Icing Sugar (Confectioners sugar, powdered sugar)

In a mixer, blend together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Add the Icing sugar gradually and continue mixing until well blended.

This frosting is great on a variety of cakes. Add vanilla essence or paste for a vanilla flavour on cupcakes. Or for a zingy frosting for carrot cake, try adding a squeeze of lemon juice and a tsp of grated lemon zest. You could also add a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cocoa to the icing sugar before sifting for a chocolate frosting.

Enjoy!

buttercream frosting

Buttercream frosting

230 grams (2 cups) Icing sugar (confectioners sugar, powdered sugar)
120 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk or cream
Food colouring

With an electric mixer, cream butter until smooth and well blended. Add the vanilla.

With mixer on low speed gradually beat in the sugar. Scrape down the side of the bowl.

Add the milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add a little milk or sugar if required. Tint with a few drops of desired food colouring.

Spread in thick layer onto cupcakes, or use a piping bag. Embelish to your hearts desire.

Enjoy!