Even the name of this cake sounds fun. I know it's not the name we have for multi-coloured sprinkles here in the UK, but 'Hundreds and Thousands Cake' doesn't quite have the same ring to it. I've seen cakes like this made by one of my baking gurus, Rosie at Sweetapolita, and had to try making one myself. From what I can gather, it used to be a cake mix sold in the US, but I've never been one for cake mixes and it is so easy to make one of these yourself that bothering with the fuss of a cake mix seems like the bigger hassle to me.
Who better to give this colourful cake to than bubbly, bright and always cheerful K, who turned 21 a few weeks ago. We've been friends since secondary school, bonding over GCSE French classes and later A Level Chemistry together, so I always try to bake her something nice when a present occasion comes around - you may remember the Giant Cupcake I baked her at Christmas.
It actually took two attempts to get a multicoloured sponge because the sprinkles originally lost their colour on baking. I was suspicious that their colour might have been lost when every crumb from the cake was white, so I made a discrete hole in the top of it and peeked in, revealing a lot of pale yellow specks and not a lot else. Having made this discovery at around 9pm I didn't want to wait until the morning to try again so I made a late night dash to Tesco and bought some Dr Oetker sprinkles. These proved much more successful and retained their colour on heating - this pleases me because I had almost given up on Dr Oetker after the incident with their red food colouring over Christmas. Therefore, if you wish to make a Funfetti cake yourself you'll want to avoid Morrisons' sprinkles and go for the Dr Oetker ones if you can.
I wanted to make the outside of the cake quite sleek, so I thought that Swiss meringue buttercream would be perfect. I thought a colourful sponge needed a zingy flavoured white icing to go with it, so I gave the buttercream a lemon flavour. It didn't take up the flavour from the lemon juice I added to the egg whites in the early stages of the buttercream making process (remember my flavouring breakthrough), so I whisked some lemon curd into it before spreading it onto the cake. The lemon curd caused the buttercream to curdle a bit, but the addition of a bit more butter and some fervent whisking seemed to solve that issue. Again, I think this is something to do with the fat repelling the water in the curd so it would have been better to add the curd before the butter (I adjusted the recipe below accordingly).
For the cake:
- 200g Butter
- 200g Caster Sugar
- 200g Self Raising Flour
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
- 1 Tsp Baking Powder
- 50g Hundreds And Thousands
- 4-5 Tbsp Milk
For the Swiss meringue buttercream:
- 500g Butter
- 6 Egg Whites
- 90g Caster Sugar
- 2 Tsp Lemon Juice
For the lemon curd:
- 1 Egg Yolk
- Rind of 1 Lemon
- Juice of 2 Lemons
- 30g Caster Sugar
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan and line two sandwich tins with parchment paper.
- Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs.
- Gradually stir in the flour and baking powder until they are well combined.
- Stir in the vanilla essence, then the milk until the batter has a soft dropping consistency.
- Add the hundreds and thousands and stir until they are spread evenly throughout the cake mixture.
- Divide the batter between the sandwich tins and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
- When the cakes are completely cool, wrap each one in clingfilm and freeze for at least four hours. This will make icing them much easier.
- To make the Swiss meringue buttercream, make a bain marie by putting a bowl over a pan of hot water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Put the egg whites and sugar in the bowl and whisk gently until the sugar has dissolved - you can test for this by putting your fingers into the egg whites and rubbing them together: if you can feel grains then the sugar hasn't dissolved yet.
- Pour the egg white mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, then whisk until the whites form a stiff peak consistency and the base of the bowl is cool.
- Next, make the lemon curd: place the lemon juice, zest and sugar in a small pan over a low heat. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about five minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the yolk, then fold into the meringue (whisked egg whites).
- Chop the butter into small cubes and add it to the egg whites, whisking constantly and making sure each cube is fully incorporated before adding the next one. At first the meringue will collapse into a soupy mixture, but keep adding the butter and whisking and eventually the mixture will thicken to a smooth and silky buttercream.
- Unwrap the cakes and place one on a plate or cake stand. It helps to have the cake higher than the work surface so if you don't have a stand or turntable, place your plate on an upturned bowl and make sure that the plate doesn't slide off while you're decorating.
- Put a couple of tablespoons of buttercream on the cake and spread it to form an even layer.
- Place the second cake on top and cover the entire cake with a thin layer of the buttercream, filling any gaps to give an even layer. Scrape off any excess and place the cake in the fridge for half an hour to allow the icing to set.
- Cover the cake with the remaining icing, using a palette knife to keep the icing even. Once you're happy with the overall thickness, hold the palette knife parallel at a slight angle to the cake and move it around the edges to create a smooth surface on the sides of the cake. you can do the same to the top of the cake to ensure it is completely smooth.
- Cover the top of the cake with a mixture of types of sprinkles for the best effect.
For tips on baking cakes, take a look at The Basics.
The next sprinkles-related thing I'll be trying is making some of my own via the recipe from Amanda (another baking guru) at i am baker.
I now have a spare cake (the original funfetti attempt - see above), so I might use it as an excuse to try out some new types of icing that I've got stored away in my favourites folder. I'll also be posting the third cake I made this week, a Vodka Lemonade Cake, in a couple of days, so look out for that. Happy weekend!