This is going to be a big year! My little sister is getting married in August, which is exciting in itself. Also exciting, but also terrifying, is the prospect of decorating her wedding cake. Our mum is getting involved with the baking of the cake but, for some reason, I've been chosen to provide the artistic direction for the overall look. This is obviously a huge honour but I need to get cracking. My cake decorating debut unexpectedly came a few months ago at my sister's engagement party - it was an epic affair with lemon drizzle, lemon curd, butter cream and a limoncello drizzle, and all dairy free. The downside was not very much time to put this creation together and very limited equipment so lots of improvisation was required. It was fun and looked and tasted great so definitely successful but lots of refinement was required.
Over the last few months, I've been challenging myself to try new techniques and styles for decorating cakes, spending one weekend a month trying out new flavours and decorations. The brief I've been given for the wedding is three cakes, each with four layers, decorated in a semi-naked style. That's been the focus of my practice - although I've dabbled with a few other things (chocolate ganache coatings for instance...) The main challenge is has been perfecting a lactose-free buttercream - I've had to give up on dairy free as it was just too sweet for my liking. Anywho... I'm planning to record the good, the bad and the ugly of this exercise starting with my most recent adventure. This is a basic chocolate sponge filled with orange curd and orange buttercream. The orange curd was delightful to make and even tastier to eat, so will definitely be making that again very soon! The buttercream worked a treat, adding in the lactose-free marscapone (thank you, Tesco!) really helped the structural stability and balancing the sweetness.
In terms of deocration - not my finest effort, it's a bit scrappy in places. I'm on the lookout for tips to get a better, flatter rise and I need a little more patience when it comes to cutting my cakes. But I've had a read of a few blogs and am prepped for next time. The top also looked a bit dull which I'll ponder for next time. Just a note, I've down-graded to two 15cm baking tins as I was getting through a lot of eggs and struggling to finish the end result with my 22cm tins!
This recipe makes four-layer, 15cm cake.
- 10oz plain flour
- 10oz caster sugar
- 10oz Vitalite
- 1tsp baking powder
- 5 eggs
- 4tbsp cocoa
- 100g hard margarine (I used Sainsbury's baking block)
- 100g lactose-free marscapone
- 1 orange, zest
- 350g icing sugar
- 1 orange, zest and juice
- 40g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 50g baking block
1. Place the cake ingredients (flour, sugar, Vitalite, baking powder, eggs, and cocoa) into a bowl and mix thoroughly until combined. Pour into two greased 15cm tins and bake at 180C for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
2. For the buttercream, mix the baking block and marscapone together with the orange zest. Gradually mix in the icing sugar until stiff. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
3. For the orange curd, whisk the orange zest and juice, sugar, and eggs together in a glass bowl. Add in the baking block cut into cubes. Place the bowl over a pan of boiling water and gently heat for around ten minutes. Stir the curd from time to time, until it thickens. Then leave to cool.
4. Once the cakes are out of the oven and cool, cut in half so you have four equal sized cakes. Pipe buttercream around the edge of each inner layer and fill the remainder with orange curd. Stack the layers then top with buttercream. Smooth round the edges of the cake, filling any gaps with remaining buttercream.