Monday, 21 May 2012
Angel Cake for my Angel - Lola's 6th Birthday Cake
Happily, I grew up with a myriad of cakes, some made, some bought, that always make me smile when I re-acquaint myself with them. Despite the fact that when I was young, mass produced,'bought' cakes were probably filled with hydrogenated fat and various other nasties, we were all mostly ignorant of it and, frankly, that didn't matter. My propensity to wolf down a 'French Fancy' without it touching the sides was well known. Throw in there the Battenberg, the Jamaica Ginger Cake and anything a la Mr Kipling, and you get an idea of where I am coming from. Cake heaven.
Which brings me to Angel Cake. No, not Angel Food Cake, the cake made with tonnes of egg white and cake flour sieved God knows how many times, I mean Angel Cake, the cake with three tiers, a triumvirate of gaudy colour, sandwiched together with butter cream icing. I used to eat each layer at a time, pink last, licking the butter cream off the top of each layer. Dee-lish.
So, when I had the 'What sort of birthday cake do you want Lola?" conversation with Lola a few weeks back, she told me that she wanted one with hearts, flowers and "like a fairy" on it. A bit random. Anyway, after spying a cookie cutter which looked somewhere between fairy and angel, I remembered the Angel Cake, and in a haze of heady nostalgia I decided that Lola's cake would be a throwback from somewhere in the early 80s.
I am not running out of ideas, honestly, but I so liked the cake mixture for the Barefoot Contessa Sour Cream Coffee Cake which was the basis for my last blog post, that I decided I would be a fool to reinvent the wheel once more. I make two cakes for my kids' birthdays, one for each side of the family, and I decided that I would have to triple the recipe to have enough for the six layers required (three for each cake) and whilst this worked and was perfectly fine, what it did produce was a cake of epic proportions, twice, so epic that each cake had a slight slant and I needed more frosting than I have ever needed in my life, ever. I have adjusted the quantities here so that your cake is more perfectly proportioned than Leaning Tower of Pisa.
In a departure from the original, I sandwiched the layers with strawberry jam rather than butter cream, as I knew there would be a lot of butter cream on the outside of the cake. And the original was never covered in frosting anyway. And whilst you could have whatever colours your heart desires, I wanted that pink, yellow and cream combination that the 8 year old me remembers so fondly.
Angel Cake with Vanilla Frosting, using an adaption of the Barefoot Contessa's Sour Cream Coffee Cake.
For the cake:
18 tablespoons (2 sticks) or a 250g pack unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups caster sugar
3 large eggs, plus 2 medium eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk
3 3/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
plus, food colouring - pink and yellow. I use pastes, and a little goes a long way. Beware!
Jam of your choice, for sandwiching the layers of cake
For the frosting:
(2 sticks) 250g softened unsalted butter
Between 5 and 7 cups of icing sugar (depending on taste - you might want more)
A little milk to loosen the mixture
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
food colouring (optional)
To decorate: sugar pastes, edible paint, flowers, hearts, cutters, whatever you fancy.
Preheat the oven to 180c, and prepare 3 8 inch sandwich tins.
Cream together the butter and the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg is added.
Add the vanilla to the buttermilk and add this to the cake batter. The mixture might look split. Don't worry overly; it comes back when the flour is added.
Mix the cake flour with the baking powder, the bicarbonate of soda and the salt and added this gradually to the cake batter, mixing each addition in slowly and only until combined. When you add the last of the flour, finish the mixing off with a spatula.
You now need to split the mixture between the cake pans, and at this point it is a little faffy. Transfer about a third of the mixture into one of the cake tins. Transfer another third into a bowl and leave a third in the original mixing bowl.
Add your desired food colouring to each third and mix the colour in well so that the cake mixture takes the colour evenly. This may take a couple of minutes mixing.
When you are happy with the colours, transfer these mixtures into the two remaining sandwich tins. You could get someone to help you if you like.
Bake for about 25 minutes or so until the cake is springy to the touch and has begun to pull away from the edges. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
When the layers are cool, trim them if necessary to get them as flat as you can, then sandwich them together with jam. Put the cake onto a serving plate, lined with several smallish pieces of greaseproof paper, which will be take out from under the cake once you have frosted it to create a neat bottom to your frosting, theoretically.
To make the frosting, place the butter in a mixing bowl and beat vigorously until it becomes quite loose. Then gradually add the icing sugar, using a little milk if necessary to slacken off the mixture if it becomes too thick. Taste after each addition of icing sugar until you get the sweetness you desire.
Add the vanilla and mix in. Then , if you want to add a little food colouring, then do so. (I added the merest hint of yellow).
Beat the frosting until it is quite light, fluffy and of a spreadable consistency. This could take 5 to 10 minutes.
To ice the cake, get a pallet/spreading knife and a cup of boiling water, which you will use to spread the icing smoothly. Load the frosting onto the top initially, then using the hot knife, tease the frosting down the sides of the cake.
Once you have frosted the cake, use the knife to neaten up your coverage.
Your cake is now ready to decorate. I bought flowers and hearts, because life is too short to make them and because my cake decorating skills are best described as 'enthusiastic amateur'. For the angel/fairy, I rolled out some sugar paste and cut out the shape I wanted using a cutter. I then used edible food paint to make it look a little fairyish like.