Last week was very interesting! Back from a brief holiday at our beautiful coffee estate, it was time to get back to the grind. Yes, I mean drilling teeth and baking :-) Our little cousin Aarya was turning one and I was making her birthday cake. She is one amazing baby. I can spend an entire page describing her but it wouldn't do justice. Too cute to handle. The theme for her birthday was "Ladybird". How cute!
Coming to the cake. It was easy in a way because her mum had told me exactly what she wanted. She had shown me pictures of the cake she liked. Then came the execution of the cake! Birthday parties for kids are all about the cake. It has to be good and more importantly, fun! Everything on the cake has to be edible when its a cake for kids! I'm really not a big fan of fondant cakes... the ones I've had so far at least. To be honest, I hate the taste of fondant. No doubt you can make cakes look AMAZING with it, but I usually prefer working with buttercream and ganache. But this cake had to be decorated with fondant. I usually make fondant from scratch but since a lot of black fondant had to be used, I bought some since I find it impossible to get the black color just right.
It was a three tier cake and I decided to go with red velvet moist cake with chocolate ganache and buttercream. The cupcakes were vanilla-strawberry cupcakes with buttercream frosting. All the other decorations were made using fondant. It was so much fun to make these cakes. I made the fondant decorations a week earlier and stored them in an airtight container. Everything else was made the day before the party. A cake of this sort takes about a day to a day and half to make. I took about a day and I had assistance from my good friend Jaya. I made the cakes a night in advance and let it rest overnight in the fridge (covered in cling wrap) to completely settle down. Keep the cake out for about two hours before frosting (that works best for me).
Few tips while dealing with fondant:
- Keep cornflour, shortening and icing sugar around. If the fondant is too dry, use shortening. If it is too sticky, use cornflour.
- Keep the workspace clean and dry.
- Use gloves while handling the fondant.
- Make sure the climate is not too humid.
- While covering the cake, make sure the cake is not too cold.
- Do not forget to crumb coat the cake with ganache or buttercream.
- Use the appropriate tools (Fondant tools are available)
- I use a silicon mat for rolling and kneading the fondant.
- Use a clean brush.
- Make sure the cake is leveled.
- While colouring fondant, use colour gel rather than liquid colouring.
- For gluing fondant, I used water. Buttercream can also be used.
- Always measure your cake and calculate the amount of fondant needed to be rolled out to cover the cake.
- To make fondant glossy, I used a vodka/corn syrup mixture and painted it onto the cake.
I'm sure I've forgotten a few other tips but these are the important ones.
This is a recipe for a six inch red velvet round cake. For the tiers, you need to adjust the ingredients accordingly.
150g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
150g caster sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla essence
125g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp red food colouring (please use good quality colouring)
For the ganache
200g dark chocolate (chopped into small pieces)
1 cup sugar
1.5 cups cream
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp unsalted butter
220g unsalted butter
2 eggs (at room temperature)
200g cake flour
1 tbsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup strawberry syrup
1.5 tsp baking powder
Buttercream for cupcakes
1 cup softened unsalted butter
3.5 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 tbsp cream
For the cake
Preheat the oven to 160 degree Celsius.
Line the tray and set aside.
Whisk the butter and sugar together and then add in the eggs one at a time. Sift the dry ingredients and fold it into the egg mixture. Add the colouring and vanilla.
Pour the mixture into the tray and let it bake for 35 mins.
To make the cake moist, I poured some strawberry syrup over it.
Similar instructions for the cupcakes as well.
Heat the cream, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan and let it simmer. Pour the cream over it. Add the butter and stir (butter is added to provide a sheen).
Sieve the icing sugar to remove any lumps.
Whisk the butter for 45 secs or so at a medium speed and add the icing sugar one cup at a time followed by the cream. Add the necessary colour as required. Set aside for crumb coating and frosting.
The party was fabulous. Aarya was a star. She was playful and so happy! The cutest ladybird ever and she seemed to love her cake :-)