So that break I took, it wasn’t relaxing. In fact, it involved me making a wedding cake, my first ever, for my little sister – so, there was absolutely no pressure!
I had done a sort of trial run earlier in the year, before she jumped ship and left us for the not-at-all sunny side of Australia. The trial went ok except the teal colour came out as a gross green inside the cake and the tiny cake tin I wanted to use didn’t work out (I am a spring-form girl through and through). So, I had a few things to learn from including making sure the butter is at room temperature – that is very important!
To even get started making a cake over there was difficult, I had to borrow a lot of things from my sister’s future mother-in-law (my sister isn’t big on baking) and read the instruction manual to get our apartment’s oven working (cue major freak out when the oven did heat up – turns out I forgot to turn a knob haha). But once everything was in place it was time to start baking!
I guess I should tell you what the cake was before launching into the how-to. The request was for a simple butter cake with plain buttercream icing. But the kicker, it had to be covered in sprinkles (aka 100’s & 1000’s) and ombre inside. Sounds simple right? A piece of cake…
I googled and pinned the hell out of ombre cakes and sprinkle ones and got to work. For those interested in the recipes I used, both were off the Australian Taste website. The cake recipe can be found here and the icing recipe here. I think I doubled the cake recipe but the recipe makes A LOT of mixture and I was using a smaller cake tin so, initially it was going to be a 3 layer cake but turned into 4. For the buttercream icing I think I made 6 times the recipe so needless to say there was a crazy amount of butter in the kitchen.
In my attempt to make the cake ombre (which I must admit was kind of a fail) I separated the mix into four bowls and then added the food colouring. I had to do it in mls as I used a syringe and the colouring I was using was more for fondant than anything else. Because it was a deep/bright sort of pink colour once the cake had been cooked you couldn’t tell the layers apart. It was very difficult to get the colours right and I think I should have gone for greater differences with the amounts of dye I put in each bowl, I did it by 4’s but can’t remember the exact amount used in each (sorry!).
The best tip I uncovered though was for baking the cakes flat which has always been a problem of mine. Wet a folded up tea-towel (folded so that it covers the outside of the cake tin) and then wring it out so that there’s no excess water. Once you’ve done this wrap it around the outside of the cake tin – which is full of mixture – pin it together and put it in the oven. This is the first thing that’s worked for me and it was so easy! The cake wasn’t perfectly flat but I didn’t bother cutting the top of any of them (I did try with a cake wire cutter thing but that wasn’t easy) and I still managed to stick them all together with lots of buttercream.
I made the cakes on Wednesday before the wedding because everywhere said it was easier to work with a cake that had been frozen. I could definitely relate to that after failing to make an iced layer cake the day of my brother-in-law’s engagement party! I left the cake layers to defrost wrapped in their wrapping (baking paper, alfoil and tightly wrapped in a freezer bag). I unwrapped them as I was using each of them and as I mentioned below I flipped them over so that the top was flattened even further. I also used a cake board underneath the first layer, it was barely larger than the cakes because they already had a log they were using as a cake stand and I wanted it hidden as much as possible.
So once I had my flat layers of hot pink goodness, as I mentioned above, it was time to whack on copious amounts of buttercream to build my tower of cakes. I tried to keep the icing layer equal between the layers but it was a little tricky because the cakes weren’t perfectly flat. I used a butter knife and tablespoon to scoop the icing on to each cake layer and then spread it around. Once all the layers were stuck together I had to do a crumb coat – put simply this is just a thin layer of icing to hold all the crumbs in – I did this very, very carefully! I used a tablespoon to put the icing on and also a cake icing spatula.
It’s important that you start by putting icing on the top, spreading it around and then down and around the sides. If you can, put the cake on something that you can spin around. I just used a chopping board and turned that as I needed. You also need to make sure that there are no crumbs on the spatula/spoon each time you get a new lot of icing. You only want a thin layer for this crumb coat to hold in the crumbs and then you just need to leave it out for about 30 minutes so that it goes a little ‘crusty’. This part scared me but believe me when I say it doesn’t affect the taste of the cake at all.
After you’re crumb coat is done now comes the real icing part. Make sure you make the outer layer of icing nice and thick and be wary of the crumbs that inevitably still pop up. If you’re cake is coloured like mine it doesn’t matter too much because they blend with the sprinkles. It is really important to make the icing nice and thick on the cake because it makes it so much easier to get the sprinkles on.
And, just how did I go about doing that? Several ways and sprinkles covered the kitchen – although, to reduce this I did it over the kitchen sink so I could wash lots of the excess away. I sprinkled the cake as much as possible and then for the sides I filled my palm with sprinkles and sort of threw/pressed the sprinkles into the icing. I did this around the entire cake and it took awhile. Then to finish I pressed around the cake with the cake icing spatula very softly. It’s important to keep your hands clean for obvious reasons but not wet because you don’t want the colours to run. After that was done I gently covered it in gladwrap (cling wrap) and it was stored in the cool room truck at the venue. I didn’t get any on the night but had some the following day and it was still delicious!