Saturday, 21 March 2015

Birthday Cake

It's no secret that birthday cake decorating is not my favourite thing. There is nothing quite like the stress of putting together a themed, cake based construction at the last minute before the guests arrive. This year I got a bit more organised and made this creation the night before. Thankfully our Little Miss 6 was more than happy with it when she woke up on birthday morning.

We were more than happy with her Sheriff Callie birthday theme, but it did present a few challenges on the cake design front. Cat cake? Maybe, but I had visions of it looking more like a dog. Hat cake? Too fiddly. Cactus cake? Too much green colouring. So we settled on a desert scene. I made the icing props a couple of days ahead. LM6's current obsession with brightly coloured dessert items meant the inside had to be in contrasting layers. The cake is layered with butter cream on the inside and the outside is Meringue Toffee Frosting. The cake recipe is adapted from a Chelsea Sugar promo handout. The sour cream gives it a nice moist, soft texture. 

Sour Cream Sheriff Callie Desert Scene Cake 

This quantity is enough to make one layer. I made 3 times this for my cake by making one double mixture and halving it before adding the colour, and then making another single mixture. Three times the mixture is generally too much for a domestic mixer! 

125g butter
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sour cream

I used pink colour and raspberry flavouring on the pink layer, plain cake and vanilla for the yellow and green and lemon zest for the last layer. 

Preheat the oven to 160deg. C. 

Line a baking tin with baking paper. I used a 32 x 25cm rectangular tin for each layer.

Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between each addition. Having the eggs at room temperature will help to prevent the mixture from curdling, but don't get too worried if it does. 

Sift the flour and baking powder together. 

Whisk the sour cream to remove any lumps. 

Fold a third of the flour, followed by a third of the sour cream alternatively into the butter mixture until all the ingredients are combined. Lastly add your choice of colour and flavour. Remember that the colours dull during baking. 

Place the mixture into the lined baking dish and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes depending on the depth of the cake. The cake will spring back when pressed once its cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. 

Because I used free range eggs, I didn't need to add colour to make the yellow layer.

Once cold I cut the cakes into an irregular 'island' shape and layered them together with butter cream. I added the raised sand dunes using off cuts. 

Butter Cream
200g softened butter
1 cup icing sugar
4 tablespoons boiling water 
the juice and zest from half a lemon

Beat the softened butter and icing sugar together until pale and fluffy. With the beater running, add the boiling water a little at a time. Beat until it forms a nice emulsion. Lastly add the lemon zest and juice and beat again. 

Meringue Toffee Frosting

I often use this on cakes as it's lighter than butter cream frosting. Here's a great Chocolate Mud Cake that uses the same frosting. I doubled this recipe to cover this birthday cake.
Once this frosting is made you need to move fast to get it on the cake before it sets.

175 g sugar
1 tablespoon liquid glucose
40ml water
3 egg whites

Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. At the same time, place the sugar, glucose and water into a small heavy based pan and bring to the boil. Don't stir it once all the sugar has dissolved or the mixture will crystallise. Use a sweet thermometer to boil the sugar to 145deg. C or until it has turned a pale golden colour. 
With the beater running, slowly dribble the sugar into the beaten egg whites. The mixture will become smooth and shiny. Once all the sugar is added beat for a few more minutes before moving quickly to spread it on the cake. 

That's our big birthday day over for the year. Wonder what next year's theme will be? 
Happy baking my friends. 

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