Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Friday, 30 March 2012

Inspired by Lola and something in the bakery window: Magnolia Flower Bouquet Cake

The fact of the matter is that I am not great at decorating cakes. I love (and am very envious of) those who are able to decorate cakes in such pretty and intricate ways and whilst I might possess a tiny bit of artistry, I am too heavy handed to capitalise on any creativity that might be going on in my mind.

However, walking past the bakery window a few weeks ago and seeing something similar to what you have here (and baulking at the price of it!) made me think that I could possibly create something similar. And seeing as Lola and I have spent the last week or so creating paper flowers for her Easter bonnet for today's parade, I felt suitably confident to give these flowers a go. Whilst I am on the subject, here's Lola:

The recipe is that which Magnolia Bakery uses for their vanilla cupcakes, and though I have that book, I used Joanna Weinberg's 'How to feed your family with relish' as the basis, because the quantity stipulated that it made 24 cupcakes: enough to create the layer cake base, the cupcakes required for the 'bouquet' and enough spares for Lola, Finn and the cook's 'perks'. I cooked the cake base as one and then split it after baking, as I didn't have two layer cake pans small enough; I wanted a narrower base to somehow make the attached cupcakes stand out. I attached the cupcakes with bamboo skewers (you could use toothpicks) and then tried to create the flower 'illusion' with some random green sugar paste leaves scattered here and there.

This is, it has to be said, a bit faffy, and does take time to create, but I did it whilst I was at home for the day, pottering in the kitchen, garden, etc. and came and went from the task as I pleased. This is the epitome of laid back baking, though thinking about it, all cake making should have that therapeutic quality if you ask me.

For the first attempt I think it looks okay. I expect very little from my cake decorating exploits but if you squint, it sort of looks like a bouquet. Sort of.

Flower Bouquet Cake, made using the cupcake recipe from the Magnolia Bakery, via 'How to feed your friends with relish' by Joanna Weinberg


1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

And in addition:

5 tablespoons of jam to fill the layer cake (I used cherry, mainly because I adore it with this frosting!)
Green sugar paste (about 50g) for the leaves (though I suppose you could use evergreen leaves from the garden, well washed)
6 wooden skewers or toothpicks
cake decorations, (dragees, baubles, etc) to make your flowers look like flowers
Bright tissue/crepe paper
a cake tin


Preheat the oven to 180c

Prepare at least six muffin/cupcake tins (though I used individual silicone ones) and a smallish cake tin (Mine was a deep 7 inch across spring form tin)

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, or in a mixer bowl cream the butter and the sugar until fluffy, at least 3 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Ensure that you only beat the mixture until the flour is combined. Don't over beat.

Scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.

Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake tin firstly, filling at least seven of them about 3/4 full.

Then fill the cake pan with the mixture. Fill to about 2/3 full.

With any remaining batter, make more cupcakes. I experimented with some smaller cupcakes (like petit fours size which in the end I didn't use but were eaten nonetheless.

Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes or so, or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cupcake comes out clean and they are golden and springy to the touch. The cake will take longer, approximately 40 minutes, but test in the same way that you tested the 'doneness' of the cupcakes.

Allow everything to cool completely on wire racks about 10/15 minutes of them coming out of the oven..

For the frosting, place the butter in a large mixing bowl.

Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla.

On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You must beat the frosting for a long enough time for this to happen. Taste the icing regularly; you may find you do not need all of the sugar.

Once you're happy with the frosting, take some out and put into a separate bowl. Add your desired food colouring (I used pastes) and mix in until the colour is distributed evenly through the frosting.

Pipe the frosting onto some of the cupcakes in a firm, swift circular motion. I worked (mostly) from the outside inwards.

Take some more frosting from the mixer bowl and transfer to another bowl (I washed out the bowl and icing bag that I had initially used). Add a different food colour and beat again until even distributed. Pipe the frosting onto the remaining cupcakes.

Split the cake in half, and top the bottom half with jam and the bottom of the top layer with any remaining frosting. Put the cake layers back together.

Take the crepe/tissue paper and place it into the bottom of a cake tin. Scrunch the edges up a little if you like. Place the layer cake in the cake tin, on top of the paper.

Put the toothpicks/skewers into the cake and then gently push the cupcakes on to the skewers, attaching them to the cake.

Roll out the sugar paste and cut out leaf shapes. Attach them to the cake.

If you need to, apply some cake decorations to the centre of the cupcakes to make the icing look a little more flower like.'re done. Pat yourself on the back and put the kettle on.

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