Today has been a good day. I took the train to Exeter, mostly (now this might sound ridiculous) to exchange some broken sunglasses that Dorothy Perkins Plymouth don't stock, but also to take advantage of the Lakeland there and buy some cake decoration equipment: a turntable (for ease of spinning a cake whilst decorating it) and a side scraper (for making the sides of a cake uber-smooth). This didn't really take long (though I think I could live in the baking department of Lakeland), so I stopped off for some lunch at a place called Boston Tea Party, as recommended by a friend.
Boston Tea Party was such a great recommendation! It's a bustling café on the ground floor with a spacious upper floor, filled with eclectically sized wooden tables and various types of chair. They serve a variety of foods for breakfast or lunch, coffees, teas, white or regular hot chocolate, a variety of smoothies and a load of cakes. I had a raspberry and chocolate flapjack with the banana smoothie (containing peanut butter, which was the real deal maker for me!) and they were both delicious. Next time you're in Exeter, I'd suggest you give it a go. It's situated just off the high street on the road to Central Station.
Once I'd got home, battling through mist and rain to get there, I started on the icing for this cake, which was, in the end, the cherry on top of my good day because it is the best Swiss meringue buttercream I've made! This is mostly down to taking note of Sweetapolita's More About Swiss Meringue Buttercream post, which states that only the best quality butter should be used to make it as there'll be less water content, ensuring nice and smooth icing. This means that I'll only be able to use my low fat spread in the cake itself and will have to fork out for the proper stuff in my Swiss meringue buttercream from now on.
The idea for blending raspberries into the buttercream was also from some pretty awesome looking cupcakes by Sweetapolita (she is, after all, one of my baking gurus!), and the idea for the ruffling up the sides of the cake was from Amanda at i am baker, but I've also seen Rosie at Sweetapolita do something similar. I saw Amanda's design around Christmas time if not earlier, but it wasn't really until the last month or so that I've felt confident enough to try it out. This cake design has been a long time coming! One thing I forgot to get in Exeter today were silver balls to decorate with, as i think the cake could do with something like that to break up the colour a bit.
|Juicy bits on the ruffles caused by bursting of raspberry bits!|
For the sponge:
- 200g Butter
- 200g Caster Sugar
- 200g Self Raising Flour
- 1 Tsp Bicarbonate Of Soda
- 75g Raspberries
- 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
- 2 Eggs
- 10-12 Tbsp Milk
For the Swiss meringue buttercream:
- 400g Good Quality Butter
- 6 Egg Whites
- 90g Caster Sugar
- 325g Raspberries
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan and line two sandwich tins with parchment paper.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Beat the eggs into the mixture, then sift in the flour and baking powder.
- Stir well until everything is well combined.
- Add the cinnamon, stirring well, and then add enough milk to create a soft dropping consistency.
- Stir in the raspberries, mashing them a bit so that they break up.
- Divide the mixture between the sandwich tins and bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool fully on a rack before wrapping them in cling film and placing in the freezer for at least four hours.
- To make the Swiss meringue buttercream, first place the egg whites and sugar in a bowl over a pan of hot water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Whisk with a fork until the egg whites dissolve - test for this by dipping your fingers into the whites and rubbing them together; if you can feel grains then the sugar hasn't dissolved yet.
- I know that making the Swiss meringue buttercream can feel a bit frustrating and words aren't always enough to help you, so I took some photos of the whisking process. For a more detailed photo tutorial of the entire process, see Sweetapolita (with metric measurements) or Whisk Kid. First, transfer the egg white mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form.
- Next, slice the butter into small chunks. It needs to be at room temperature, so microwave it for a few seconds if necessary.
- Next, add the butter, a chunk at a time, to the whisked egg white mixture (uncooked meringue):
- Wait until each chunk is fully combined before adding the next - I tend to count to about 15 in between additions.
- After a few chunks of butter have been added, the meringue will have turned a bit soupy. Don't panic! This is totally normal.
|Disgusting looking, but it will soon transform!|
- Eventually, the buttercream will start to take shape, and by the time you've added all your butter you should be left with a nice, smooth consistency that looks like regular buttercream. If your butter isn't good quality or is low fat, you'll end up with a less smooth consistency, but my previous buttercreams (for the Funfetti Cake and Jubilee Cake) were born out of low fat spread and nobody had a problem with it. Real butter does give a much better result, though!
- Next, whisk in the raspberries:
- To decorate the cake, take the sponges out of the freezer and unwrap them. Place one on a plate and cover with a few tablespoons of buttercream.
- Place the second sponge on top, then dollop about a third of the remaining buttercream on top of the cake.
- Spread the icing over the top and over the edge so that the buttercream is touching the sides. Use a pallate knife to smooth the icing over the sides, filling in any holes to produce an even shape on the side.
- Use either the pallate knife or a side scraper (see first paragraph) to ensure that the sides are smooth and not over-iced (we're only looking for a very thin layer to cover the cake up) by holding it at an angle and running it around the edges of the cake.
- Run the side scraper/pallate knife over the top of the cake to ensure that it's smooth.
- Use the rest of the icing to ice the cake however you desired. I used a star-shaped icing nozzle and did little squiggles up the sides of the cake. I originally wanted to use a smaller nozzle, but the raspberry seeds got stuck in it!
- Store the cake in the fridge as the moisture in the raspberries will make it go bad more quickly.
Do you know, I'm 21 years old and apparently still don't know how to protect my clothing from simple things like raspberry juice (or toothpaste) - I looked down at my white tank top after making this cake and discovered that it was now covered with pink dots. Hope it washes out...
I'm entering this cake into the Simple and in Season blog challenge, organised by Ren at Fabulicios Food and guest hosted this month buy Fleur at Home Made By Fleur. The idea of the challenge is to submit a dish based on seasonal produce. This is the first time I'm entering it, though I've been aware of it for a while. You can never be taking part in too many blogging challenges!
I'm now off to wash my tank top, but I'll be back around the weekend to bring you my entry to the Scottish Best of British Challenge!