It has been a bit of a manic weekend. It started with a Halloween party on Friday, hosted by The Last Tuesday Society. It was definitely on the alternative side, if you’re interested www.thelasttuesdaysociety.org.
For Saturday, I set about making my friends birthday cake, which is the main subject of this post, and thought I’d rustle up some Halloween cupcakes to take up to my friend in Oxford, where we went in the evening. I thought I’d try the spider web effect with some white and black fondant icing. I should have learnt from the Bake Off that fondant icing is no easy thing. I was really quite pleased with the cakes when I had made them, the lines were a bit wobbly but they looked good. They did not travel well. The fondant was not set and the only way I can describe it is they oozed. The lines oozed into the white, and the white oozed everywhere. So I had a sort of sticky grey oozed effect. Fortunately my friends knew how disappointed I was with them, and were coming up with things like “No they’ve got a nice marble effect” and “well, they’re not your best work”. Luckily the cakes tasted pretty good. Will have to try harder with fondant next time.
So yes on to the birthday cake. The request was for a chocolate orange cake, with chocolate buttercream. It seems none of my friends are fans of rolled icing, so I have been perfecting my crumb coat and buttercream finishes lately.
The recipe was from BBC Food, and you can find it here. An added bonus is that it’s dairy free! Hurray! I made mine in two sandwich tins to make it easier to stack and decorate. Next up for the chocolate buttercream. You might remember that I was having some rather serious issues with my dairy free “butter”cream. I set about some more detailed research into how other people were making theirs and stumble upon The Vanilla Duck. She recommends using half margarine and half “vegetable shortening”. This translates into half Pure sunflower spread and half Trex vegetable fat. Trex is pretty awesome. It comes in a block, is pale in colour and is set but slightly soft. Which means it doesn’t need to be at room temperature like butter. But this addition of firmer fat means the frosting can take much more of a beating than margarine alone. No more splitting!
I used The Vanilla Duck’s recipe, but used 150g of both Pure and Trex, 700g icing sugar, about 75g of cocoa powder (I didn’t actually measure it, I just kept adding til it looked the right colour and tasted chocolatey) and a dribble of Lactofree milk. I also set some aside before I added the cocoa to make the orange, but I added a little vanilla to it so it had a bit of a flavour.
For decorating, I applied a thin crumb coat, put the cake in the freezer for about ten minutes, and then piped the roses. First time I’ve piped roses like this onto a cake, but I think they work quite well and it’s quite an easy technique for a professional looking cake. (Have you noticed a theme in my cakes?!)
Happy Birthday Emily!