21st April 2012
Decisions, decisions – it’s was my mum’s birthday the next day and I had been pondering all week on what cake I should make her. A lot of people who follow me on Twitter or Facebook suggested a Victoria Sandwich filled with strawberries and cream, but that’s a cake that my mum quite often bakes, so I wanted to do something different.
Flicking through the book I kept coming back to the Christening Cake. It looked gorgeous, though I doubt mine would look that good, so come Saturday morning I had decided it was to be the Sponge Christening Cake (aka Mum’s Birthday Cake!).
A quick glance through the ingredients just to see if I needed anything – I did some cream and some flowers to crystallise. I had a look in the garden first as I knew I had a lovely yellow primrose which had some huge flowers on it, but unfortunately the rain we had last week had given it a good battering and the flowers were split and a bit too muddy.
So first of all it was a quick walk into town to buy some cream and a look around the new John Lewis shop which opened yesterday in town. I could spend a fortune in there and had a lovely chat with a sales assistant with regard to the KitchenAid and KMixx machines and which one was best. He was very knowledgeable indeed – I have now made my mind up and all I need to do now is choose the colour!
So the cream was purchased and a quick walk round the market to see if I could find any flowers for the cake. Unfortunately the only ones they had were pansies and I know they are one flower that my mum doesn’t like – so it looks like I will have to make some. I did go on a flower course about 16 years ago when I was expecting my daughter, but haven’t made any sugar flowers since then, so I dread to think what they will turn out like.
After a lovely lunch out with my husband and a long walk with the dog, I was finally back home to start baking the cake.
The oven was put on (180C, Fan 160C, Gas 4) and a deep 23cm round cake tin greased and the base lined with greaseproof paper.
The butter (75g) had to be melted, Mary suggests doing this in a small pan, but I opted for the microwave. This was then put to one side to cool.
Next it was a case of cracking six, yes six, eggs into a bowl (luckily my chickens are laying well again now, so we have an abundance of eggs) together with the caster sugar (175g). This then had to be put over a pan of hot water and whisked with an electric whisk on high speed until the mixture became pale and creamy and thick enough to leave a trail on the surface. My eggs always seem a lot yellower than shop bought ones, so I ended up whisking the mixture for over ten minutes to get it a lovely pale colour. The bowl then had to be removed from the pan and you had to continue to whisk it until it was cold. This was another ten minutes and by now both wrists were aching from where I had swapped the mixer from hand to hand. This definitely wasn’t a quick cake to make!
The self-raising flour (150g) and cornflour (2 level tbsp) then had to be sieved into a separate bowl and half of this mixture was folded into the egg mixture (with a metal spoon of course). It was quite difficult to fold this in as the egg mixture was so light, the flour slowly sank through to the bottom and didn’t really want to combine with the egg mixture, I kept finding little pockets of flour. Then you had to carefully pour half the cooled butter around the edge of the mixture and lightly fold this in. You then had to repeat this with the remaining flour and butter. I had a huge bowl full of mixture.
The mixture was poured into the tin and the surface was levelled. It was about 1cm from the top of the tin, so I was slightly worried that it would overflow if it rose too much. The cake mixture was put in the oven for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes I had a look, it was enormous and had risen well over the top of the tin, but luckily had not fallen over the side. The cake was still a bit soft on top so it was popped back in for another 5 minutes and then another 5 minutes. After this it was firm and had begun to come away from the sides, so it was time for it to be taken out of the oven. It was left to cool for a few minutes and then turned out. At this point I was worried, the cake seemed very light but too heavy for its height (if that makes sense) and appeared to be falling in on itself. I quickly popped the tin back over it and left it for 10 or so minutes before removing the tin again. This seemed to do the trick and the cake remained how it should!
It was now a case of letting it cool before I could carry on with the next step. Well time flew by as we had downloaded the dreaded ‘Logo Quiz’ that everybody keeps talking about onto the ipad and before I knew it it was 10.30pm. There was no way I was going to manage to do the cake now and I’d also had a few glasses of wine!
So the decision was made I would get up early in the morning (6am when the dog gets up for his breakfast) and carry on with the cake then. However, being the kind mother and wife I am I quickly whipped the cream up so I wouldn’t have to do this in the morning and wake everybody else up!!
So it was 6am on the Sunday morning that the cake was sliced into three. It made a very funny noise when I was slicing it, it’s hard to explain but it was as though it wasn’t cooked. I was concerned, but there was no need as it was cooked and lovely and light inside.
The double cream (300ml) was taken out of the fridge and too this I added 4 tbsp of lemon curd and lightly mixed it in. Oh I did remove 3 spoonfuls of the cream and put to one side for spreading over the top and sides of the cake. The lemon cream was put onto the cake and it was sandwiched together. The other cream was then spread very thinly over the top and sides of the cake.
Now it was onto the icing. I was surprised to see that Mary states to use 900g of fondant icing – I only had 500g and hoped that this would be enough. I measured the cake and then rolled the icing out to fit. This was gently put onto the cake and the top and sides smoothed and then cut off at the bottom. I was annoyed with myself as I thought I had a cake board in the dresser, but I didn’t, so the cake had to be put onto a plate.
Now it was onto the flowers. I would have to make these out of the remaining icing (of which there was lots – I dread to think how thick the icing would have been had I used 900g). I got my flower cutters out and picked one of them. The icing was rolled very thinly and the flowers cut. It was then a case of rolling the edges with one of the icing tools I have to thin them out. These were then placed in little hollows to give them some shape. I wasn’t sure whether they would harden or not, just hoped and prayed that they would. I brushed the flowers with some yellow edible dusting powder. The first one was a bit too yellow and ended up in the bin, it was far too bright. They looked OK, I suppose, I would have liked to crystallise some real flowers as I have never done this, but that’s something I will have to do another day.
I left the flowers for a couple of hours and then put them on the cake using a bit of water under them so that they stuck. I then needed a ribbon. There used to be lots of ribbons in the house, but I couldn’t find one, so it was back to pinching (well borrowing) one of my daughters ribbons she has in her bedroom, on the understanding that Grandma would return it! I think Grandma gave it to her in the first place!!
All in all the cake look quite good, the flowers could have been better. Mum was over the moon with it. It tasted lovely and I remembered just as the last slice was going to be eaten to take a photo of the inside.