My daughter asked me recently if I’d stopped making cakes with sugarpaste icing as, apart from the Christmas Cake, I think, it has been quite a long time since I last made one. Cakes decorated with sugarpaste present more challenges than ones iced with buttercream, but sugarpaste is a lot more versatile and I love being given the opportunity to create something a little different.
My friend Petra asked me to make a cake for her husband Alistair’s birthday and I love the idea of a cake as a present. So why not a cake that looks like a present too? This is a great cake for a man: not too girly! Petra wanted chocolate cake and so we went with chocolate icing. And Petra’s daughter and resident cake expert, Eleanor, suggested cream sugarpaste for the contrast colour to give the impression of dark chocolate and white chocolate. I think it is really effective.
I made a large, 12″ square chocolate Victoria sponge. I started by breaking all 14(!) eggs into a jug in an attempt at being super efficient. But once I had measured the butter and sugar into the bowl I realised that the last time I had made such a large cake (for Petra, in fact) I had made it in two halves as I had been afraid of burning the edges and undercooking the middle. And because I had already mixed all the eggs I then had to make it as one large cake. Luckily it cooked just as well as one deep cake as two shallow cakes did last time. Which is good to know as it is obviously much quicker to make one cake than two!
On the other hand, the cake then needs to be split in half which can be tricky. I have a rotating cheese board that I use as an icing turntable and it also really helps when splitting a cake. I find it much easier to stay level by repeatedly turning the cake and gradually cutting further into the centre than by cutting from one side to the other.
Once filled, the cake will need masking with buttercream but it will dry out if you do it before you have rolled out your sugarpaste. A cake this size will use around 2 kilos of chocolate sugarpaste. Yes, really! Once I have rolled mine out I cover it with clingfilm and quickly mask the cake with buttercream so that neither the buttercream or the sugarpaste can start to dry out before the cake is covered.
Once you have covered the cake you can add your real ribbons around the base of the board and the cake. I chose ribbons that were the same colour as the contrast icing. And then you just need to make your sugarpaste ribbons and decorations. The loops of the bow are very simple to make and they can either be left on their sides to dry out or you can roll up some kitchen paper and use it to hold them up until they are dry.
I decided to put the bow off centre and cut out some stars of various sizes, which I tried to position randomly. I have made one of these present cakes before, right at the time I started my blog and used chocolate sugarpaste with blue as the contrast, which is also a great choice for a man. I think dots would make a good alternative to stars and kids would love multi coloured ones. I’m quite keen to make another one now!
Happy Birthday Alistair!