Celebration Layer Cake

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So the days are short and dark and the weather is very dreary. Time for a very colourful cake to celebrate my daughter’s birthday! Life is very busy for all of us this time of year and for sure, it is when I am at my most disorganised – FACT.  My time is divided between Christmas and birthday preparations and it is all rather hectic.

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So with my head spinning, I baked a variation on a cake I have baked a few times and I am comfortable with – a coloured layer cake, with Swiss meringue butter cream, decorated with mini (mini) meringue kisses.

It is very similar to the cake I made last year, basically Martha Stewart’s Rainbow Cake, from ‘Whisk Kid’ blog. It was a rather poignant cake for me as it was the cake that I so enjoyed baking, that it inspired me to set off on this baking blog journey. The cake is fundamentally very simple, thin layers of vanilla sponge cake, tinted with coloured gels of your choice (last year, the colours of the rainbow) and this year shades of pink. The buttercream is wonderfully light, not overly sweet and flavoured with lemon. It is a little time consuming as I bake two layers of sponge at a time, but each only take approximately 12-14 minutes. It is really quite easy and the result is a stunning cake once sliced.

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To be honest, no decoration is really required. A simple, plain-looking cake is rather chic when sliced to reveal the coloured layers. I added the mini meringue kisses as they are well loved in our house, particularly by my children. I felt they added a bit of further height to an already quite tall cake and add a little ‘crunch’ factor. Besides, I was experimenting with colouring these meringue gems.  I came out with circa 200 mini meringue kisses, wouldn’t they look great on a gingerbread house…? pinkrainbow2

There really isn’t any room for adaptation in this tried and tested recipe. As is the norm now, I tend to use golden caster sugar within the sponge cake but always use caster, or granulated, when frosting, or making meringues. Of late I have been using spelt flour, as I have done here. It is a beautifully, light, soft flour that has a slightly sweet and nutty flavour with a higher soluble protein content than regular wheat. Although slightly more expensive than regular flour, it is lovely in biscuits, cakes, pastry and bread. A lovely ‘treat’ to a special bake.

You could vary this cake by using different food colouring for the layering, using different flavours, (wondering if you could do this with chocolate?….white, milk and dark chocolate layers…that would be something) and vary the decoration, maybe fresh fruit?

pinksliceAdmittedly there is a bit of work in this cake. Nothing too technical but wholly satisfying.

Happy 9th Birthday to my gorgeous Big girl!

Baked with love xx

 

Celebration Layer Cake

Ingredients

  • 430g spelt flour, or plain flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 220g unsalted butter, softened
  • 540g golden caster sugar, or caster sugar
  • 5 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste, or extract
  • 340ml whole milk
  • Pink / Rose food colouring
  • For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream (Filling and Crumb Coat)
  • 9 egg whites
  • 360g caster sugar
  • 440g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • Pink / Rose gel food colouring (optional)
  • For the Frosting
  • 5 egg whites
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 220g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • Pink / Rose gel food colouring (optional)
  • For the Mini Meringue Kisses
  • 3 egg whites (100g)
  • 200g caster sugar
  • Pink / Rose and yellow food colouring

Instructions

  1. If you plan to use the Mini Meringues for decorating, bake these first.
  2. For the Mini Meringue Kisses (Makes about 200)
  3. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C, or Gas Mark 6. Spread the sugar on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and put in the oven.
  4. Put the egg whites into the bowl of a freestanding mixer and mix slowly at first. Increase the speed and allow the egg whites to form stiff peaks. By this point, the sugar in the oven should be sufficiently warmed. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 100 degrees C, or Gas Mark 1/4.
  5. Continue to whisk the egg whites and add the warm sugar, 1 large spoonful at a time until all added. Continue to mix at high speed for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, take two disposable piping bags and turn them inside out, leaving a tiny tip at the end (so it is easy to pull back over itself). With a cotton bud, dip the tip into the food colouring gel and make streaks to the inside of the piping bag. Fill the bag with half of the meringue mixture. Repeat with the other colour and fill with the remaining meringue. Have three baking trays, lined with baking parchment. Snip about 5mm off the end of the piping bags (not too much so as to achieve the mini kisses) and pipe tiny kisses, equally spaced. Tip: Stick the baking parchment to the trays by gluing with a little meringue to the corners. This makes the piping process easier. Pipe using the entire mixture.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes. Switch off the oven and allow to cool in the oven. Store in an airtight container.
  7. For the Cake
  8. Prepare your tins by greasing and lining the base with baking parchment. Use 9 inch / 23cm pans. ( I use two at a time but pre-cut my parchment lining).
  9. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg whites and continue to mix. Add the vanilla paste and mix until fully combined. Alternating between flour and milk, add them to the egg mixture in two instalments. Once thoroughly combined, divide the mixture equally into 6 bowls. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C, or Gas Mark 3.
  10. Bowl by bowl, add the required amount of gel food colouring to achieve sponges of different shades. Start with a minute amount in the first bowl, gradually adding to each bowl so that each sponge has a higher colour. Mix each bowl thoroughly before pouring into a prepared tin. Spread the batter evenly and tap each tin hard on the work surface so dispelling any bubbles.
  11. Bake for approximately 12-14 minutes. Turning and switching racks in the oven, half way through. Once baked, allow to cool a little in the tin. Remove from the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Wash and prepare the tins for the next two colours. Repeat the baking and cooling process. Again, wash a prepare the tins for the final two colours and repeat the baking and cooling process until all six sponges are ready. Prepare the buttercream for the filling and crumb coat.
  12. For the Buttercream
  13. In a small saucepan over a medium heat, cook the egg whites and the sugar, constantly whisking. Once the sugar is dissolved, transfer the mixture to a freestanding mixer and with a whisk attachment, whisk the mixture on a high speed until it cools to room temperature.
  14. Add the softened butter, a little at a time whilst still mixing. Once incorporated, switch to a paddle attachment and allow the buttercream to come together and become light and fluffy. Add the lemon extract, food colouring and combine.
  15. To Assemble The Cake
  16. Place four narrow stripes of baking parchment around the serving plate, cake board or turntable. Place the lightest colour sponge centrally on the plate. Spread some buttercream over the first layer approximately 4-5mm thick, right to the edges. Add the next layer of sponge, carefully aligning it with the first and push down. It does not matter if some of the buttercream goes over the edge. Repeat by spreading some buttercream over the second layer. Repeat the process until all the sponges are stacked, sandwiched with buttercream. For a more even finish, it is best to place the final sponge layer upside down, giving a sharper edge. Lightly frost the top and frost the sides, filling in any gaps and lightly covering the whole cake, capturing any crumbs. This process should use the 'filling and crumb coat' quantity of frosting. Chill the cake for at least 30 minutes but this can be overnight, depending on your timings.
  17. Prepare the buttercream frosting quantity. Frost the chilled caked. Decorate with mini meringue kisses.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/celebration-layer-cake/

Source: Cake barely adapted from www.marthastewart.com Rainbow Cake (originally by ‘Whisk Kid’), Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream from www.martastewart.com. Mini Meringue Kisses adapted from Alex Hoffler &  Stacey O’Gorman’s ‘Meringue Girls Cookbook’.