When my kids were growing up I always made their birthday cakes, we had a couple of cake decorating books and they would leaf through the pages and choose which one they wanted, I did My Little Pony, Football, the worst one was Super Mario as his head was a huge round cake which kept falling off his tiny body!!
Roll on quite a few years and I got a message a few weeks ago from James asking if I could make his partner’s daughter (my new to me granddaughter) a birthday cake, pretty please…he sent me a photo of what she was after, a tall purple ombre cake with drippy decoration. Of course I agreed…and quickly went on google and youtube for hints and tips. Youtube should be banned! They make it all look so easy!
Have you ever felt thwarted at every stage!!
Luckily I decided to make the cakes in advance, I could always freeze them for a few days. I made four cakes, they went in the oven a lovely shade of purple…and came out looked mucky teal! I made two into a cake with a bit of buttercream and took it into work. One of the doctors asked me what the celebration was, I told him it was a disaster cake, these were rejects! It actually tasted really nice and was all eaten by 8.45am. Every one knows at work that if you don’t take cake when it first appears, by the time you have a break it will have gone, so eating cake at 8.30 am is the norm! Inside the cake was a deep purple, but not a nice shade…
I posted the photo on the WI page, the WI is renown for it’s baking so I was sure someone could help. They did. Apparently I needed a white cake. I googled white cakes. Cakes here in the UK are traditionally made with equal weights of eggs, sugar, flour and butter, the butter and the eggs make it quite a yellowish, fluffy mixture, especially when your free range eggs have lovely orange yolks. In my limited experience, they do taste different to the American cakes. American recipes often seem to include oil instead of butter or buttermilk and the mixture is much more of a liquid, apologies to all over the pond for this generalisation! I found a Betty Crocket white cake mix, I’ve never used a cake mix before but I ordered four boxes for next day delivery!
James brought round some food colouring they’d used before called Progel by Rainbow Dust. They were right when they said you only need a small amount! My cakes came out in lovely shades of purple…
They’re a lot ‘holier’ than cakes I’ve made the usual way, I’m not sure if that was me or that’s how they are, but they were purple and that’s all that mattered! I trimmed the tops off to level them and then put them in the freezer overnight. This is a tip I gleaned from youtube as it makes them easier to stack.
On Saturday morning I made a huge batch of butter icing and started to stack them. This is about the only bit of the cake that went without a hitch!!
I coloured a corner of the icing bowl with purple and started to cover the sides, a bit of white, then a bit of purple, so it had a nice marbled effect. I had the bright idea of holding the cake firmly by putting the cake tin base on the top so I could give a bit of even pressure, it did seem to help a lot. At this stage I was pretty pleased with myself…
The next task was the drippy top, you know, where they have nice even drips which drip down the cake so perfectly. I watched youtube. The cake bakers at work had convinced me it would be a white chocolate ganache rather than icing so I made up a runnier ganache to the recipe given on youtube. It went on easily enough, but promptly ran off and puddled at the bottom. Even worse it just gave the cake a sort of yellowy hue.
After exchanging photos with James I decided to scrape as much of the white chocolate off as I could, add some more purple to make it a bit more marbled and then tried white royal icing instead. It still wasn’t perfect but it was a lot better. I left it for about an hour before I did the final touch of big purple iced twirls on the top. It looked great…for about half an hour, then half of the purple blobs decided to sliver over the edge!
At this point I had several large gins and decided I would fix it in the morning!
First thing Sunday morning I scraped off the offending purple twirls, made another batch of icing as close to the same shade of purple as I could, and redecorated the top, adding a bit more to some of the earlier ones so they looked even. I piped a line of purple shells round the base to tidy it all up and sprinkled some gold stars on the top.
It looked OK, though obviously where the purple blobs had jumped off, the sides were a bit messy, but it was the best I could do. James picked it up and took it straight to the party.
We didn’t go to the party as it was being held in a busy public place, but apparently she loved it and said it was the best cake ever!
And it was beautifully purple inside.