So, having decided that I wanted to make my own wedding cake and then decided that I wanted something to do with rainbow flowers, I needed to start actually trying to make these cakes to see if it was possible. Fortuitously at that point, Holly had a birthday and I was tasked with making a cake for it.
Holly and I have very similar tastes in a lot of things, and I immediately knew that if I made a red velvet cake with a colourful, flowery design that she would like it. I picked up some flower plungers from John Lewis (these and these) and some Dr Oetker ready to roll icing in white and a mixed pack of colours, and got baking.
I’ve made red velvet cakes a few times. I went for a 9 inch cake, and rather than using two pans I used one and split the cake in half after baking.
It can be a bit nerve wracking, splitting a cake yourself without proper tools, but it’s not impossible. I hold a ruler up to the side of the cake (out of its tin), figure out how tall it is, and then figure out halfway. I then use a sharp knife to poke in the cake deeply all the way round, keeping the blade as horizontal as possible on that half-way mark. By the time you’ve gone all the way round the cake, a bread knife can easily slice through using the marks you’ve made as a guide.
Did that make sense? I think I’ll have to do a video explaining it. Anyway, this is what I ended up with.
As always, I forgot to line the base of the tin with greaseproof paper. I don’t know why I do this, as it NEVER works out well for me.
Erk. Thankfully I was able to prise the ring of cake off and glue it back on to the top of the cake with some icing. No-one was the wiser, until a few weeks later I put proof of it on the internet for all to see (hi, workmates!).
Anyway. As you can see, when I had my bottom later I added a few heaped tablespoons of cream cheese frosting, spread it out evenly and put the second layer on top. Then I tried to spread the frosting around the cake so the fondant would stick.
This is what happened.
That…is not right. That coating is 90% crumb. I got into a real tizzy, and then googled “What to do when buttercream is full of crumbs”
Turns out, most bakers will put a crumb coat on before their buttercream. A crumb coat is a thin layer of icing which has been mixed with milk so it’s almost like a glaze which goes over the cake and is put in the fridge to set. All the crumbs are trapped in this crumb coat, so when you put the real layer of buttercream on everything is fine.
I had lots of buttercream left, so I stuck the cake in the fridge for 20 minute, came back and put another layer on.
Success! That is definitely less crumb-y.
I rolled the icing out and covered the cake (there’ll be a proper video on this at some point, I promise) and then Garry and I set to make the little fondant flowers to go on top. It was actually quite fun!
I used my highly scientific tools to stick these flowers to the cake (read: a cotton bud dipped in cold water) and voila. One beautiful flowery cake.
Also, it tasted really good. In one of my weight-loss diaries I mention having eaten cake three times in one week. This was that week. Not even sorry.
I was feeling more positive about making the cake after this. The baking was, admittedly, quite tough, but I quite enjoyed the decorating and I am really happy with how it turned out!
- Line your cake tins, fool
- Learn to crumb coat properly
- Fondant is hard to work with when sticky, although this probably won’t be an issue in April
- Garry can help cut out the flowers
- Find better red food colouring. This cake was more brown than red
For your cooking and eating pleasure, here is the recipe:
- 350g of soft unsalted butter
- 350g of golden caster sugar
- 6 large eggs
- ½ a teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 300g of plain flour
- 60g of cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
- 50ml of red food colouring
- 600g of ready-to-roll white icing
- 100g of softened unsalted butter
- 600g of icing sugar
- 250g of full-fat cream cheese
- 100g red ready-to-roll icing
- 100g blue ready-to-roll icing
- Line and grease a 9-inch tin and pre-heat the oven to 180C
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl lightly whisk the vanilla and eggs together then add to the butter and sugar a little at a time. If at any point you think it’s going to curdle, add a tablespoon of flour
- Add all of the flower, the cocoa powder and the baking powder. Add the food colouring and mix well
- Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is firm and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven, cool for five minutes in the tin, then remove from the tin and leave to cool completely
- Carefully split the cake in half horizontally so you have two layers
- Put the remaining butter and icing sugar in a freestanding mixer with a paddle attachment and beat lightly until it looks sandy. Add the cream cheese, beat slowly until mixed, then turn the speed up to high and beat until it’s soft and fluffy
- Take three heaped tablespoons of this frosting and spread over the top of one of the cakes. Flip the other cake so the flat side is on the top and lay this on top of the other cake
- Mix two tablespoons of the frosting with a little milk and lightly spread all over the cakes – top and sides. Put in the fridge for 15 minutes
- Remove the cake from the fridge and cover the top and sides with the remaining buttercream
- Roll out the white fondant until it’s about 2cm thick and cover the cake, trimming it and using your hands to push it firmly into the icing. Put in the fridge
- Roll out the coloured icing and use flower plungers to cut out shapes. Set aside to stiffen slightly
- Stick the flowers to the cake using either a little buttercream or water