It’s been another very buttery and satisfying week. My relationship with Italian meringue buttercream has grown immensely and I fear it will become a permanent and caloric fixture in my life. My old school friend Sarah announced her engagement to Patrick one year ago. I volunteered my buttery skills immediately and I’m very glad I did. The loved up couple don’t particularly enjoy thick white fondant icing, so making a suitable buttercream was a necessity. I researched buttercreams and decided Italian meringue buttercream would do the job, it is more stable than American buttercream (which I tend to make) and also sturdier in heat. Italian meringue buttercream starts with a simple meringue base, combined with a hot sugar syrup and an enormous amount of butter. The result is a very smooth, less sweet buttercream which is perfect for decorating. Here is the recipe:
- 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup of glucose (or corn) syrup
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 5 egg whites
- 450g unsalted butter (room temperature)
- Vanilla essence (or whatever flavouring you prefer)
Mix the sugar and syrup together into a paste and place on a medium heat. Bring the syrup to the boil and give it a good swirl every now and then. When the syrup starts to bubble, start making the meringue by whipping up the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean, dry bowl. I use a KitchenAid for all my baking, but it’s particularly important for this type of buttercream as there is a lot of whisking involved. Stop whisking once the egg whites form stiff peaks. Bring the syrup up to a consistent boil, the temperature should reach 115°C before taking off the heat. Start whisking the meringue and slowly pour the syrup in. Keep mixing until all the syrup is incorporated, and then blast it on a fast whisk for 10 minutes or until the mixture is cool. Chop up the butter and add it ALL slowly, bit by bit. After lots of mixing, a beautiful Italian meringue buttercream is born. Add flavour and mix, è finito. Not so tricky after all, I do recommend a sugar thermometer.
The wedding cake flavours were lemon, carrot and vanilla (working top to bottom). I have to say the carrot cake recipe has also stolen my heart. I’m having a very good week for being wooed by food. The recipe is on the BBC Good Food website, please see link below. The cakes were baked, cooled, carved and buttercreamed. The bottom and middle layers were dowelled to death, there was probably more wood in there than cake! Can’t afford tier slippage at a wedding….. heaven forbid. A good buttercream crumb coat is necessary before adding the final layer of buttercream. Refrigeration is important to let those layers get hard for extra buttering. Neat, smooth lines are very desirable.
The theme of the cake was Lego to honour the groom’s Danish heritage. I bought a silicone Lego mould to make individual fondant pieces to build the cake board. The side of the cake was simply built with rectangles of coloured fondant icing. I got very sticky whilst putting this together and I flicked buttercream everywhere. I can’t take credit for the cake topper, the Lego people are the real deal.
A massive congratulations to the bride and groom. Wishing you both a very happy and buttery future together!
I challenged myself to making a mirror glaze cake this weekend. After a lot of research and reading, I still managed to fluff it up. A word of caution to anyone who wants to make a mirror glaze, it is a sticky, convoluted and expensive cake if you keep making mistakes….
I made a light vanilla sponge with a thin layer of vanilla buttercream and raspberry jam inside. I coated the cake in buttercream and smoothed out the sides and top. This is really important, you need a really smooth surface for the glaze to stick to and dribble across. In retrospect, I needed to smooth mine a little bit longer as even the SLIGHTEST bump or crumb is exaggerated once the glaze is on top of it. The crumb-coated cake needs to be refrigerated for about half an hour before glazing. Another layer of buttercream is a good idea and then just keep smoothing until you can’t stand to smooth anymore.
To make the glaze:
- 1 sachet of powdered gelatine (mixed in 40ml water)
- 255g white sugar
- 112 g condensed milk
- 170ml water
- 300g white chocolate chopped up
The gelatine should be ‘bloomed’ in a small amount of water before starting ( I didn’t realise gelatine should be ‘bloomed’- it just means rehydrate it). Don’t bother sniffing it, it’s HORRIBLE. Just pour, stir and leave. No breathing, set to one side. Mix the water, sugar and condensed milk in a pan and gently warm until it starts to boil. Take off the heat and stir in the chopped white chocolate. Whisk like mad to get everything melted and mixed well. Pour mixture into four or five bowls and add a little food colour of your choice. This is the IMPORTANT BIT, leave to cool!!!! It should be poured when the temperature is around 30°C. I broke my thermometer a while ago, so when it feels cool to the dipped finger, then it’s time to give it a go. The next bit is fun or very disappointing depending on how it goes. Place the cake on a wired tray with lots of cling film underneath. Pour the different colours onto the cake to make a rippled pattern. I added gold glitter to my mixture just before I poured it. The trick is to do the sides first and then work your way into the middle. I did this and the cake looked fab, I was very proud of myself, did a little dance, came back five minutes later and the whole lot had rolled off the cake. ************. Please see picture below:
I hadn’t cling filmed my tray and all the colours had melted into one big mess. I had to go back to Sainsburys and buy more white chocolate and start again, pfffft. By this point, I had splodged blue glaze all over the kitchen floor, everything was sticky and I was pretty grumpy. After much mopping, I calmed myself down and went back to the shops to discover I had bought 300g of dark chocolate. I recommend you do not do this, clearly I was not with it by this point and got very annoyed upon discovering this. Round 2 of making mirror glaze was again unsuccessful. I tried to use lighter colours but it all melted together to make a Halloween-like mess (there was orange, purple and green present). It looked gross when I poured it over a partially glazed cake of various dark shades of blue and green. Finally, I commenced Round 3 by colouring over it again to just make purple and turquoise. I slopped it on the cake (all patience had evaporated by this point) and it finally looked worthy of eating.
The glaze itself takes a matter of minutes to make but the cooling part takes longer (30-50 minutes). If you pour glittery glaze on first and dribble non-glitter glaze over the top you can achieve a rather nice look.
I wish anyone who wants to make a glaze the best of luck. You know why.
I really enjoyed making this cake, I’ve neglected my baking recently for all sorts of kitchen/boiler related reasons. Regardless of the situation, I have decided to bake on! That is what Mary would do, and don’t we all want to do as Mary does? I digress.
I whipped up a vanilla sponge with a classic 8,8,8 oz (sugar, self raising flour, butter) to 4 egg ratio and bunged it in the oven at 180C until risen, golden and cooked in the middle. I mixed up enough buttercream to sink a kayak, divided it up and coloured it in varying shades of blue. If you whip your buttercream lots and lots until it goes pale (before colouring it), you will achieve a smoother, paler buttercream.
The key to any good decoration is a cool cake. Once cooled, I cut it in half and layered lots of raspberry jam on one half of the cake and blackcurrant jam on the other (it’s good to mix things up every once in a while). I spread buttercream thinly on top of the jam and sandwiched the cakes together.
The coloured buttercream was carefully spooned into three piping bags. I like to put the piping bag in a mug and then fill it up- stops the bag falling all over the place. It is best to avoid buttercream splodges around the top of the bag as it will go all over your hands very quickly once you start squeezing !
To make a neat pattern I piped sausages of colour around the edges of the cake, alternating when it felt right to do so. The tricky bit is to use a spreader and blend it together to get very straight, smooth sides. I can always feel my heart beating LOUDLY when I approach any cake with a spreader (it’s very distracting). The remaining buttercream is used to make a swirly pattern on top to finish. I spent an awful lot of time touching it up, it’s hard to say when to stop phaffing. After all that, best not to keep it near a radiator as it will make you cry when all that smoothing and swirling melts everywhere.
This cake is dedicated to Kate who is due to have a baby boy very soon. 😀 🤰
My sister turned 25 this week and to celebrate we bought her some guinea pigs. Lotty has always been animal mad and works at Chester Zoo. The grey pig is called Gin and the brown one is Rhubarb.
So…. it only made sense to make a guinea pig cake. A sticky toffee guinea pig cake. I was very impressed with the recipe I found online (see link). You just have to remember to buy a lot of dates.
He’s covered in toffee buttercream fur and his feet and ears are made out of fudge. I’m pretty happy with him, he’s about 5x bigger than the baby pigs!
I made a blastocyst for a colleague’s leaving cake. For those of you who are not sure what a blastocyst is, it is an embryo that is about 5 days old (humans that is). I made a vanilla sponge and plopped plenty of vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam inside. I then created the embryo by using sweets. Those ‘jelly tot’ like sweets look a bit GM. If you’re not convinced it’s a blastocyst, then feel free to think of it as a UFO or something equally fun.
My dad is a fan of Kingfishers, so I plopped one on top of a log cake for his birthday. I used my favourite chocolate cake recipe from the BBC good food website.
Happy birthday dad! X
What better way to work out than on a mound of cake surrounded by sugar….. Happy 18th Birthday Marcus!
It’s my brother’s birthday today. I made him a ‘Butty bear’ cake. It’s safe to say that everything in life looks more fun with a sandwich. And a bear.
Lisa Jones is responsible for such a cute design. Check out her art:
I made a snowman face out of lemon cake (not yellow snow…..) . He has coal eyes and a big tangerine nose. Not sure what I can pretend his smile is made out of….
Usually snowmen wear scarves but I thought this one looked a bit fannnncccy so I bobbed him in a bow tie. I love a good bow tie, I don’t know why we don’t all wear them more often! I rouged his cheeks to give the world inpression he’s had too much sherry. Well we’ll see how Jeremy goes down at lunch time (and yes I always name my snowmen … although most of time I make snow cats). Why hasn’t it snowed yet?!?!???
Nigella is the answer to all things naughty and chocolatey. Behold, my first Yule log in a very long while. I broke my hand mixer so it took me a lot longer than normal to whisk my egg whites. Check out Nigella’s website for the recipe:
The Yule log barely has any ingredients in it actually, it’s a flour free recipe so it makes a very light sponge. Be careful not to burn it because it doesn’t take long to cook in a shallow baking tin. Best to let the sponge cool too before adding the chocolate buttercream, otherwise you just end up with a lot of melted butter…
I finished my Yule log with some icing sugar snow, holly and a friendly robin.