This cake is for S, who is turning 21 on Tuesday. I brought this along to the birthday pre-drinks at her house. For those of you who don't know what pre-drinks are (i.e. people with better drinking habits than my generation), they're an activity employed to get oneself drunk (or at least on the way to drunk) before going on a night out in order to save money. In Newcastle you can get a treble for £2, but entry to clubs is from £5 so it really does save money to drink beforehand. In Plymouth, trebles aren't even a thing so every drink is an expensive one and pre-drinks are deemed a necessity for impoverished students like us.
Served straight-up, vodka has a horrific flavour so I was careful to balance it out with the lemon in the cake, and I used traditional buttercream for the icing so that it was sweet enough to counteract the alcohol. The cake (or at least, the batter) therefore tastes like the perfect vodka lemonade - not too strong but so that one can still taste the prescence of the spirit. I added more baking powder than normal to give a bit of a fizzy flavour to the sponge.
The design for the icing is a style called ombre (french for 'shade') and has been doing the rounds on food blogs of late. Last week Rosie at Sweetapolita put up a video tutorial, making the design more accessible to the less talented cake decorators among us. Fleur at Home Made By Fleur also had a go at the cake and did a terrific job! My cake wasn't very tall so my approach was more slap dash and the white layer of icing on top soon became slightly yellow-tinged, but I got the effect I wanted: a dreamy sunset. Perhaps the alcoholic cake of choice for this design would be a Tequila Sunrise, but I know for a fact that S drinks vodka lemonade and am not sure how she feels about tequila - I know a few people who can't stand tequila as the result of an over-enthusiastic night on the town, so, oddly, vodka was the safer bet here!
I used light muscovado sugar mainly because we were running out of caster sugar, so don't feel the need to go out of your way to get some specifically for this cake. Light muscovado sugar tends to lend a slightly butterscotch-like flavour, whilst caster sugar just adds a sweetness, so the choice is down to you if you have the luxury of having plentiful supplies of both types of sugar in your house.
For the cake:
- 200g Self Raising Flour
- 200g Light Muscovado Sugar
- 200g Butter
- 2 Eggs
- 2 Shots (Approx 120mL) Vodka
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 2 Tsp Baking Powder
- Rind of 1 Lemon
- 4-5 Tbsp Lemonade
For the buttercream:
- 100g Butter
- 1 Shot (Approx 60mL) Vodka
- 1 Tsp Lemon Juice
- 500g Icing Sugar
- 2 or 3 Shades Of Gel Food Colouring (I used yellow and red)
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan. Line two sandwich tins with parchment paper.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs.
- Stir in the vodka, lemon juice and lemon rind.
- Slowly add the flour and stir until it is well combined, then add the baking powder.
- Add enough lemonade to give a soft dropping consistency.
- Divide the mixture between the tins and put it them 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 place in the freezer for at least four hours.
- To make the icing, beat the butter, vodka and lemon juice into the (sifted) icing until it is all combined, then use an electric whisk to beat for 20 minutes to give it a light and fluffy texture. If you are making the buttercream in advance, store it in the fridge and only beat it with the electric whisk when you are ready to use it, otherwise it will lose its light consistency.
- Unwrap the cakes and place one on your plate/cake stand. I do advise giving the cake some height to make it easier to work with, so if you don't have a cake stand just put a plate on top of an upturned bowl and take care that it remains balanced as you turn the plate round whilst decorating. Place one of the cakes onto the plate and cover with a couple of tablespoons of buttercream. Spread to an even thickness.
- Put the second cake on top, then spread a think layer of buttercream over the whole cake. Fill any holes so that the sides are even and scrape off any excess icing. Put the cake in the fridge for half an hour to set the icing.
- Next, split the remaining buttecream into three bowls. If you want to follow my cake design, colour one third red, one third yellow and leave the last third white.
- Spoon the red icing onto the end of a palette knife and spread it around the bottom of the sides of the cake. It doesn't have to be perfect and don't bother to smooth it down yet; we'll do that in a bit.
- Spoon the white icing onto the (cleaned) palette knife and spread it over the top of the cake, spreading it slightly over the sides.
- Spoon the yellow icing onto the (cleaned) palette knife and spread it in between the red and white icing.
- Now you've reached the fun part: use the palette knife to blend the colours together by moving it diagonally up from the bottom to the top of the cake, spinning the cake as you go. You can play with the way you spread it until you get an effect that pleases you.
- Clean the palette knife and, holding it perpendicular to the cake, spin the cake around so that you scrape off any excess buttercream, giving you a smooth finish. Do the same to the top of the cake, if you wish.
For tips on baking cakes, take a look at The Basics.
I had wanted to make and show you some Peppermint Latte cupcakes, but they didn't come out as well as I'd hoped so I might try them again before I put them up on the blog. Don't worry, there'll be plenty more cake on here soon enough.
S, if you're reading this, I still remember the TV dinner cupcakes you showed me and I will make them for you at some point! Maybe next year!