Celebration Cakes

Over the last few months, I’ve made a few celebration cakes that I’ve photographed but never felt inclined to post for some reason or another. So before they gather too much digital dust, I thought to just whack a few of them in one post.

Three Cakes

So, here they are. (Yup, I haz a way with de wordz.)

Cake #1 is a Meyer Lemon and Blackcurrant Cake.

Lemon & Blackcurrant Cake

Meyer lemons are the lovechild of a lemon and a Mandarin orange, so while they’re definitely citrusy, they’re not as sharp as a normal lemon. I spied a bag of these in the grocery store a few months back and I just had to grab them just for the novelty of them.

Meyer lemons

So now I had the lemons, I just needed to find a way to use them. Fortunately the opportunity emerged when I had to bake a cake for my friend’s father’s birthday.

The cake is really my trusty yellow cake recipe, substituted the vanilla extract for the grated zest of one of the lemons. I also filled the cake with a blackcurrant jam.

Blackcurrant jam

The icing was a little more interesting. I wanted an icing that wouldn’t mask the meyer lemon flavour with too much sweetness, so that ruled out the conventional buttercream. So I went with my cooked icing because it uses half the amount of sugar. But I made one big substitution — I swapped up the milk for the freshly-squeezed meyer lemon juice. So you simply cook the lemon juice with the corn starch to get a paste, then proceed with the recipe as written. Oh, and I added in more zest as well just to amp the lemon flavour.

After all that lemon, you’d think the icing would be puckeringly tart. But I was surprised when I tasted it — the lemon flavour was mild. Too mild, in fact. But I used the icing anyway because I was running short on time. (I’ll explain why in a bit.) The next day, after the candles were blown out and the cake was cut, I was surprised again — the icing was super lemony! I guess it’s a matter of letting the flavours develop overnight.

Anyway, as you can see from the picture, I did basket-weave piping all around the sides. That was tough. You’ll need steady hands and an eye for straight lines, which I thought I had, but by the time I was done halfway, but hands were shaking from gripping the bag so tightly. Here’s an instructional video from Wilton if you want to see how it’s done. Consider yourself warned.

Cake #2 doesn’t need as much explanation. It’s my Most Reliable Chocolate Cake recipe, so named because it always bakes perfectly level cakes.

Chocolate cake

This cake was a swan song bake for my colleagues because I was switching jobs. It was my way of saying thanks, especially since it was my first job fresh from graduation.

And finally, cake #3. Quite epic-looking, doesn’t it?

First birthday cake

This was for a friend’s nephew who was turning one. A whole twelve months on Earth sure needs to be celebrated in a big way. And this cake is nothing short of gargantuan.

I borrowed a #1 Wilton pan to bake the cake and that takes batter from an normal two-layered 8-inch cake. And I made two layers. Yup, big cake.

With my recent success with this chocolate cake recipe that produces a really moist, chocolatety cake, I doubled the recipe for each layer. I also filled this massive cake with raspberry mousse, as you can see from my previous post. The icing is a standard buttercream one.

It was a cowboy-themed party and the mother had a cute little cowboy designed on the invitations and party favours. Naturally, the cake needed this cowboy as well, so I tried something for the first time to get the design on the cake. It’s called a buttercream transfer.

In principle, it’s really simple. You print out a mirrored version of your desired design and put baking paper over top of it. You then use buttercream to recreate the design, beginning with black icing borders and then filling in the rest with the appropriate colours. Freeze everything till its solid, then flip it onto the cake and peel back the baking paper. (Here’s another Wilton video if you want to see it in action.)

It’s a great technique because you can get amazingly complex designs onto a cake. But oh boy, it’s stressful because so many things can go wrong — buttercream can become stuck to the paper, the black icing could bleed into other colours, your icing may be the wrong consistency…

It was so stressful I completely forgot to take any pictures of the process. (Hence, no standalone post.)

But really, the technique is very simple, no more difficult than a colouring book. I was probably giving myself the stress because of the magnitude of the cake and the celebration. (Turning one is a big deal!)

Turning one

Thankfully, it turned out great and I’m already looking forward to the next buttercream transfer I get to do.

So that’s it. Three Basic Bakes cakes for the price of one, which is already free to read in the first place. (Hah.)

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