This blog post is a bit more about cake decorating than just baking. The vanilla sponges are fluffy and light, sandwiched together by vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream. I’ve added mixed berry jelly layers for a bit of fruit (and height). The raspberry chocolate drip just looks beautiful and then you’ve got loads of sprinkles, because they’re cute. And crunchy!! The decoration part looks quite impressive I think but it’s a great cake design for someone that doesn’t feel too confident about decorating a layer cake. Just give it a go, don’t worry too much if it’s a bit rough around the edges, it’ll taste great!
- 600g Caster Sugar
- 6 m Eggs
- 300ml Oil
- 300ml Buttermilk (you can use Milk or Soda Water if you can’t find Buttermilk)
- 550g Plain Flour
- 50g Cornflour
- 4tsp Baking Powder
- Pinch of Salt
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
- 500g Frozen Mixed Berries (or Berries of Choice)
- 2 Sachets Vege Gel
- 2 Tbsp Water
Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 1kg Soft, Unsalted Butter
- 12 m Egg Whites
- 600g Caster Sugar
- Pinch of Salt
- 2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
Raspberry Chocolate Drip:
- 200g White Chocolate
- 7g Freeze Dried Raspberry
- 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil (or Vegetable Oil)
Preheat the oven to 170 degree C. Prepare a baking tray with a reusable baking mat and 2 18cm baking rings. You don’t have to grease the baking rings. If you don’t have baking rings you can use two spring forms or 4 sandwich tins. If you can’t fit 4 sandwich tins in the oven at one time make the batter in 2 batches. Don’t forget to adjust your baking time accordingly!
Put the eggs and the caster sugar in a large mixing bowl and whip them up using a whisk attachment for about 3-4 minutes until they’re light and fluffy, then add the vanilla extract. Put the mixer on a slower speed and slowly add the buttermilk and the oil. Finally combine flour, cornflour, salt and baking powder and then sieve them into the batter. Carefully fold the dry ingredients in without losing too much of the air we just whipped into the batter. I like using my whisk attachment on the stand mixer to roughly mix it in and then fold it in completely with a spatula.
Divide the batter between the two prepared baking rings. A little bit of batter might escape at the bottom but don’t worry, as long as they go in the oven quickly you won’t lose much, as it’s quite thick. Use a spatula to pull the batter a couple of centimeters up the sides of the baking ring, this will help the sponges rise more evenly.
Bake the sponges for about 45-55 minutes. Make sure to stick a skewer into the middle of the sponge to check that its done. If the top of the cake has caramelised quite hard wiggle a bit of a bigger hole in the surface, then check if the cake is done. Otherwise the hard caramelisation might pull any wet batter of the skewer when you’re taking it out and you might think the cake is done when it isn’t. Happened to me before… Learn from my mistakes, don’t make them yourself! Let the cakes cool down completely, preferably overnight.
Prepare three dessert rings by wrapping them in cling film and then put them on a cake lifter or flat board. They should have a diameter of about 10-14cm, the smaller the diameter the higher the layers will be. Mine are 10cm. If you don’t have any desert rings you can cover three deep plates with a small diameter in the bottom in clingfilm as well.
To make the jelly, put the frozen fruit in a medium sized sauce pan, on a low heat and add the water to stop anything from sticking. Slowly defrost the fruit, stirring occasionally. The fruit shouldn’t get too warm. When it’s defrosted puree the fruit. I don’t mind the pips and skin of the fruit in my jelly layers but if you do you can strain them out with a sieve, your layers will not be as thick anymore though! Whisk in the two sachets of Vege Gel and stir until it’s dissolved. Now put the mixture on a higher heat and bring it to a boil. Vege Gel (and Agar Agar) will only set if they’ve been brought to the boil so let it bubble away for a few minutes. Use a ladle to divide the hot mixture evenly between the dessert rings/plates. Work quickly as the mixture will set quickly! Put them in the fridge or freezer to firm up.
For the buttercream whip the soft butter for about 8-10 minutes until it’s really light in colour and fluffy. If you’re using a hand mixer this might take longer.
To make the Swiss meringue combine sugar, egg whites and salt in a heatproof bowl over a pot with simmering water. Make sure that the water doesn’t touch the heatproof bowl. Whisk continuously while heating the mixture up to about 65 degree C, at which point the sugar crystals will have dissolved. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer you can rub a bit of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger and if you can’t feel any more sugar crystals the mixture is ready.
Pour the Swiss meringue mixture into a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip it on the highest speed until it’s cooled down completely. This might take up to 30 minutes and it will create a really glossy, stable meringue. You can check the temperature by feeling the outside of the bowl. When it’s cooled down to room temperature add the vanilla extract and then whilst whisking on a slow speed add the butter a spoonful at a time.
Take a third of the buttercream and put it in a separate bowl. Add a pea sized dollop of teal gel food colouring (I used Squires Kitchen Bluegrass) to the larger part and mix the colour in well. Add more if needed. Don’t forget to scrape down the bowl to make sure that there’s no more white bits in the buttercream. Add a smaller amount of purple gel food colouring (I used Squires Kitchen in Lilac, didn’t like the colour outcome and added Eggplant by AmeriColor) to the smaller bowl of buttercream and combine as well.
Cut your cooled down cake layers in half lengthwise using a cake leveller and take the domed top of as well (You can make cakepops out of leftover cake or just munch on it while you’re decorating your cake!!). You should end up with 4 equally large and high and completely flat cake layers.
Put a cake lifter (or cakeboard if it’s going in a cake box) on a turntable and put the first cake layer in the middle of the cake lifter. If you’re using a cake board put a little bit of buttercream in the middle of the board to fixate the first cake layer. Add a large dollop of teal buttercream and spread it out on the first cake layer using an offset spatula/pallet knife (I like switching between small and large ones but it’s personal preference). Take the first jelly layer out of the fridge or freezer (they might be easier to handle when frozen!) and place it in the middle of the cake layer. Put buttercream around the whole of the jelly layer and also cover the top. The jelly layer wants to be completely encased by buttercream. Add the next cake layer and repeat the process with the purple buttercream, and then again with teal buttercream on the last layer. Finally add the last cake layer.
Now we need to cover the whole cake in a thin layer of buttercream called the crumb coat. It’s purpose is to catch all the loose crumbs and prevent them from getting into the final buttercream layer. I like taking a large pallet knife and a bit of teal buttercream and running it up and down the whole length of the cake. This will fill in any gaps between the cake layers as well. It doesn’t matter if the colours mix a bit now. Finally add a bit more buttercream to the top of the cake and smooth it out by holding the large offset spatula horizontally over the cake and spinning the turntable. This will take excess buttercream off and push it towards the outside of the cake. Go around the cake with a cake scraper or large pallet knife one more time and then take off any overhanging buttercream off the top edge by gently pulling it towards the inside of the top of the cake with your pallet knife.
Put the cake in the fridge for at least an hour to cool down nicely.
When the cake is cool it’s time for the final layer of buttercream. Put a large dollop of teal buttercream on the top of the cake and hold a large offset spatula horizontally on top of the cake while turning the turntable. This will create an even layer of buttercream on top of the cake and push the excess buttercream down the side of the cake. Take more buttercream to cover the rest of the outside of the cake in buttercream. It wants to be about 1.5-2cm thick.
When the whole cake is covered in a thick layer of buttercream take a cake scraper and hold it at a 90 degree angle to the cake board/ lifter. Gently turn the turntable and take a thin layer of buttercream off the outside of the cake. Then fill in any gaps in the final layer of buttercream and repeat smoothing the buttercream out with the cake scraper. Now we can add small dollops of purple buttercream all over the outside of the cake. Again take your cake scraper to take off excess buttercream. Clean it off after ever swipe though to prevent the colours from mixing too much. Repeat the process until the outside of the cake is completely smooth. If the colours get a bit too muddy you can add a few more dollops of teal buttercream. Smooth the top out again using the large offset spatula, then go around the outside of the cake one more time with the cake scraper and finally pull the excess buttercream around the top edge off the cake towards the inside of the cake with your large offset spatula or cake scraper again. Put the cake back in the fridge.
When the cake has cooled down in the fridge you can carefully move it onto a cake stand using few large offset spatulas. While it’s cold you can move it around the cake stand a bit using your hands. Add sprinkles to the bottom third of the cake. I used a flexible spatula to gently push them up the outside of the cake.
To make the raspberry chocolate melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 sec intervals, mixing in between, until it’s completely smooth. Blitz the freeze dried raspberries in a food processor until they’re finely ground. Add the coconut oil and freeze dried raspberry powder to the chocolate and mix until it’s well combined. You can fill the mixture into a piping bag and close it at the end. Let the mixture cool down. It should be thick enough to dry while its running down the cake, otherwise it’ll just melt into the buttercream and runs down your cake stand. When the chocolate has the perfect consistency place one drip after another around the outside of the cake. If you don’t want to waste a piping bag you can also use a spoon to gently push it over the cake edge. Then add more chocolate to the top of the cake and smooth it out with a small offset spatula. Let the chocolate cool down completely.
Add the leftover purple buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a large fine star piping nozzle (I’m using a JEM 3ES) and give the bag a good shake to get rid of any air bubbles trapped in the buttercream.
Pipe a swirl boarder around the outer edge of the top of the cake. Apply even pressure while piping a close spiral pattern and turn the turntable with your other hand. If you have piped so much buttercream out of the bag that you don’t have a good grip anymore, carefully reposition your hand without moving the piping nozzle, this way your piping pattern won’t be disrupted.
Finally: More sprinkles!!!