I’m entering this post into a competition by The Craft Company — but quite honestly, I was going to write it anyway. Cake decorating for novices is hard, and this attempt was a bloody nightmare. I fully intended to take step-by-step photos, but I ended up so stressed that you’re going to have to imagine the baking bombsite that my kitchen became.
Anyway. On the 10th of September 1987, my parents looked like this.
That meant that Saturday was their 25th wedding anniversary, and as they only had a little wedding they decided to have a bit of a party. They thought that getting married was easy and befitted a small celebration, but staying together for 25th years was something that really merited reward. I like the way they think.
A big celebration requires a big cake, and my parents tasked me with it. They bought two square cake tins of two different sizes and asked me to make something a bit like this, which I’d seen on Pinterest.
So, I started by trying to bake the cakes. My parents wanted a carrot cake and a chocolate cake. I used the smaller cake tin — a 20 x 20cm one like this — and a bumped-up version of this recipe to make two carrot cakes. I then sandwiched them together with this cream cheese frosting.
The problem came with the chocolate cake.
The tin was huge — 28 x 28cm. I used this recipe, and that was the cause of the problem. See, that recipe is so lovely and gooey and moist that it’s perfect for a 20cm round tin. For a 28cm square tin, it couldn’t support itself in the middle.
It ended up like this.
So I tried again, using a Mary Berry chocolate sponge recipe. And I got this.
Part of it was the tin. It was a loose bottomed one we’d found on eBay and it just wasn’t put together very well, so cake was seeping through the gaps and baking, sticking the cake to the tin and making it impossible to get the cake out without breaking it.
There’s no editing on that. It really was that colour. No idea why, I did the exact same as with the previous cake.
It was at this point I sent Garry out to get a big cake from ASDA and just focussed on decoration.
I took my carrot cake. I’d already sandwiched the layers together with cream cheese frosting — I now smeared that evenly around the sides and top of the cake. This makes the icing stick to the cake.
The icing I used was Renshaws Professional. It’s my favourite out of all the types I’ve tried, and you can get lots of different colours here. I rolled out some black icing until it was about the width of a pound coin and covered the top and halfway down of the cake.
Tips for doing this:
- Whenever you roll the icing, roll it on a surface covered with a dusting of icing sugar.
- Dust the rolling pin with icing sugar, too. Don’t worry about getting icing sugar on the ready-to-roll icing, as it’ll buff out later
- After each roll, turn the ready-to-roll icing by 90 degrees. This will stop it sticking to the surface
- Drape the icing over the rolling pin, and drop it over the cake. Don’t be scared of it — you can always adjust it.
I wasn’t neat about getting the icing on the cake, because most of it was going to be covered with keys anyway. If you want to be neat, cup your hands to push the icing into the cake and be firm but not rough.
Once the black “top” was on, I rolled out the white icing and cut out keys. I placed these all round the side of the cake, with some black keys overlaid to make it look like a piano — I painted the back with a little water to get them to stick. I then popped this cake on top of the white bottom cake that Garry had bought.
Using some nifty musical note cutters….
I re-rolled the black icing, cut notes out and dotted them around the white cake, again using water to stick them.
The next day I made some simple buttercream and coloured it pink, which (along with silver) was the colour scheme of the party. It’s best to use gel colours for this as they won’t add taste, won’t change the texture and are really good value for money. Then I just used a piping bag and a round nozzle to pipe my parents’ names on the top.
I used a piece of rolled up black icing to buff the top layer, and a paintbrush dipped in vodka got rid of any icing smears and gave the cake a nice shiny sheen.
One of my Bake the Bake Off challenge ideas involves making a cake and covering it. Do you have any advice for covering cakes with ready-to-roll icing? I think I could use it!
Love, Amy xx
(P.S. My parents had a lovely party, thank you)