Last weekend was my best friends dads birthday and I was asked to bake a cake for him. He is a huge Manchester United fan, so it had to be a bright red cake! I’m definitely still al learner when it comes to cake decorations but I’ve been watching some online tutorials and blogs with great tips for teaching yourself – one of my favourites is Sweetapolita, beautiful cakes for inspiration and helpful tutorials.
The cake was to be as plain as possible, taste wise, so I stuck to my tried and tested vanilla cake recipe with vanilla buttercream, Then added a lot….and I mean a lot of food colouring to the buttercream for the outside of the cake. It felp wrong adding that much colouring I have to say, but luckily you couldn’t taste it. I use Wilton gel food dye which is really good and I haven’t ever needed to use too much of it before. However I’ve never made such a vibrantly coloured cake before!
Simple cake to put together. It makes a good base for your imagination to run wild with the decoration.
Use a sharp serrated knife to level off the cakes to give a sharp finish.
A crumb coat is essential if you want a neat finish.
Have all the icing laid out before you start. A bowl of warm water for cleaning down your spatula also helps.
For the lettering I did a practice run on some greaseproof paper.
Vanilla Birthday Cake
from the Crabapple Bakery Cookbook
2 3/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
200g unsalted butted, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
For the buttercream:
300g unsalted butter, at room temperature
9 (ish) cups icing sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
Wilton Red (no taste) Gel Food Colour – One 0.5 oz tub plus a bit extra
Wilton Golden Yellow Gel Food Colour
Wilton Black Gel Food Colour
Pre-heat the oven to 170C. Line and grease two 20cm cake tins.
In a stand mixer or in a large bowl beat the butter until pale and smooth. Gradually add the sugar, beating on high for about a minute between each addition. When all of the sugar is added the mixture should be pale a heading towards fluffy.
Add the eggs one and a time, beating the mixture well – for about 1 minute – between each egg.
Add the vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking power.
Add the flour and milk to the mixture alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Mix slowly and briefly after each addition as you do not want to overmix.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for 30-35 mins, until lightly golden and a knife/skewer comes our clean.
Remove from the tins and allow to cool on a cake rack.
To make the buttercream, in a stand mixer or with an electric whisk beat the butter on high for a couple of minutes until pale and smooth. Add 5 cups of icing sugar, the vanilla and milk and fold in lightly before mixing on high for 3 minutes.
Add the remaining 4 cups of icing sugar and the cream and mix on high for a further 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. If the icing is too thick add some more cream, if it is too runny add some more icing sugar.
At this point, even up the tops of your cakes with a serrated knife. Just take it slow and keep the knife as level as you can.
To assemble the cake place one cake on to a cake stand. To keep the stand neat, place small squares of greaseproof paper underneath the perimeter.
Spread a layer of plain buttercream on top of the cake not too much as there will be icing on the top and sides too.
Place the second cake on top, flat side up.
Scoop about half a cup of the icing in to two seperate bowls. Using a knife or a toothpick add a touch of yellow to one. To the other, add a tablespoon of cocoa powder and mix well. Then add enough black dye as required to achieve a solid colour.
To the remaining plain coloured buttercream, add the red foor dye and beat well to achieve a consistent colour.
Cover the assembled cake with a light coat of buttercream, and refridgerate for a minimum of half an hour. This will seal in the crumbs and giver a neater finish.
Cover the cake with the final layer of buttercream using an offset spatula to give as smooth a finish as possible. If you have a small bowl of warm water handy and some kitchen roll, this is helpful to clean off the spatula and the heat will achieve a smoother finish.
Return the cake to the fridge for half an hour.
Using a fine writing tip ice the cake with the lettering of your choice, in black and yellow.
Using a large plain tipped nozzle, pipe dots around the base and perimeter of your cake to finish.
Enjoy, you deserve it!