Thursday, 15 November 2012
Happy birthday Finn - Elderflower Cake with added Angry Birds!
Finn is now five years old. I am frankly amazed at where the time has gone (as is any parent from what I can gather) but every single day of my life since his arrival has been blessed with his smile, his charm, his energy. Like his sister Lola, his very presence in my world is special, wondrous, the things miracles are truly made of.
A grainy baby Finn, newborn
So, when it came round to the subject of birthday cakes, I asked him what he would like dreading the word 'dinosaurs' as last years' birthday cake offering looked more like a pigeon than a T-Rex. He said 'Angry Birds' and I really got to wondering just what sort of mess I would make of them. Well, I did better than expected. They might be a bit rough and ready but you know, from a distance, if you squint, they look a little like those pesky little birds that I have catapulted at piggies whilst having an idle moment or two. yes, even mums like Angry Birds!
The sponge cake recipe is an elderflower cake recipe taken from Fiona Cairns' 'Birthday Cake Book' which is so, so pretty. I am not surprised that she was chosen to make William and Kate's wedding cake. I have often looked wistfully at her beautifully perfect cupcakes ensconced behind the glass in Waitrose. Each twirl, each curl, each delicate flower so splendid in its execution. I can only dream of being so adept. But it's not only her fantastic decoration that I am a fan of, it's her actual cakes which are innovative and interesting. I liked the idea of an elderflower cake and whilst I might not have achieved the total effect as I went my own way in terms of decorating the cake, it was still a nice cake to make and to eat.
The original recipe suggests a filling of elderflower flavoured cream with additional strawberries to bring out the summery elderfloweryness (yes, I invented a word!) but my only addition apart from angry birds was to spread a generous dollop or two of strawberry jam to sandwich the two cakes together. I think I may have missed out on the wow factor of elderflower and strawberry combined, but I needed to adapt the recipe and method to suit my purpose.
The recipe below is for the cake only. As far as making Angry Birds goes, it's quite hard to demonstrate but my plan of attack was to print out some pictures of the birds and then use sugar paste to create them. I cut the basic shapes out with a knife and then cut or modelled the remaining details and stuck them on after moistening the sugarpaste with a dab of water. I covered the cake with sugar paste and then stuck the birds on whilst everything was soft and pliable, only then allowing the paste to dry out.
Finn was impressed. His opinion was the one that mattered.
Elderflower cake, taken from Elderflower and Strawberry Cake in Fiona Cairns' 'The Birthday Cake Book'
Serves 24 (so I halved the recipe below to serve 12)
450g (1lb) self-raising flour
450g (1lb) really soft unsalted butter, diced
2tsp baking powder
8 eggs, lightly beaten
Finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
450g (1lb) golden caster sugar
4tbsp elderflower cordial
The Angry Birds:
Red, yellow, black, green, blue, orange sugarpaste
A black edible marker pen
Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas 4. Butter three 20cm (8in) round cake tins and line the bases with parchment. (I used 2 sandwich tins)
Cream the butter and eggs then add the sifted flour and baking powder, lemon zest and sugar and beat well, adding the cordial towards the end.
Pour into the cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave for a couple of minutes, run a knife around the rims and turn out onto a wire rack. Remove the papers and cool. Trim the cakes flat.
Sandwich with strawberry jam and place on a flat plate.
I put some 'grass' to try to disguise the imperfect way that I decorated the sides of the cake!
Roll out the sugarpaste, on a surface lightly flowered with icing sugar, to an even depth, then place over the cake. Smooth the edges as much as possible and trim.
Make your birds as described above. Once made place them onto the top of the cake.
Serve, preferably adorned with candles, to an excited five year old.