Saturday, 26 May 2012

Libby's Spring Has Sprung Cake

Some people go to the gym or for a run to relax. I like to bake.

Perhaps jogging would be kinder to my hips but it wouldn't be nearly as good for my soul. Yesterday I spent three hours completely absorbed in a world of butter and sugar, fondant flowers (my first attempt at making these) and the smell of orange zest and icing sugar. When my cake was finished and I resurfaced from my submersion in my own sugary world, I found that I had cake mix on my elbow and icing sugar on my nose. I hadn't noticed.
Libby's Spring Has Sprung Cake 
(Because spring really has sprung and what better occasion to bake a cake?)

8oz self-raising flour
8oz caster sugar
8oz butter / margarine
4 eggs from happy chickens
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
Drop of vanilla essence
Dollop of Greek yoghurt
Red and blue food colouring
Jam (about 1/3 of a jar) and butter icing (one large bowl) to sandwich

For the flowers:
Rollable fondant icing

Butter icing:
Lots of icing sugar
A large dollop of butter
A bit of water
A drop of vanilla essence

1) Open the windows to let a warm breeze into the kitchen. Tie up crazy long hair and put on a suitably pretty apron. Attach ipod to speakers and put on Jack Johnson. Preheat oven to 180C / 160C fan.

2) Weigh sugar and butter (in pink scales) and bung in a large bowl. Weigh and seive flour and add to mix. Add eggs.
3) Beat ingredients together with a wooden spoon until smooth or until your arm starts to ache and you have to finish off with an electric mixer.
4) Zest the orange and lemon and stir into the cake mix, along with the vanilla essence and the dollop of yoghurt (this will make the cake nice and moist and not too heavy. If you want an even lighter cake, substitute some of the butter for some more yoghurt).
5) Separate the mix evenly into three bowls. Leave one bowl of mix plain and stir in a small drop of red food colouring into one bowl and a large drop of blue food colouring into the other.
6) Grease 3 round tins and distribute the cake mix into each tin. Shake the tin gently to even out the mix.
7) Put the tins in the oven. After 15 minutes, check the cakes. If a knife come out clean they are ready, if not, leave for another 5 minutes or so.
8) Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack and start working on the fondant flowers. I vaguely followed these instructions: but improvised slightly (I used a small, sharp knife instead of leaf and petal cutters and water rather than vegetable fat). I also went for slightly fatter flowers as I thought they looked friendlier. I also made leaves for the flowers and to scatter over the cake.

9) Leave the flowers and leaves to dry.

10) Mix together the butter icing and stir in the vanilla essence. I make butter icing by eye / feel / taste - adding a bit more butter / water / icing sugar where needed.
11) Transfer the green cake to a cake stand / plate and smooth jam on top. Smooth butter icing onto the bottom of the plain cake and sandwich the two together. Repeat this process of jam and butter icing sandwiching with the pink cake.
12) Smooth the butter icing over the sides and top of the cake using a spatula.
13) Add the fondant roses and leaves to the cake.

And finally and perhaps most importantly:

14) Cut yourself a big, multi-coloured slice of cake and marvel at your tasty work.


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