This week, in the final part of my series, I’m showing you how to make some of my all-time favourites.
Among them is my most frequently requested recipe, for my chocolate cake, which I’ve used in the magnificent Salted Caramel Chocolate Drip Cake and Paint Flick Cake.
I’ve made my Fairy Tale Castle Cake in a pretty pink here, but you can choose any colour you like.
I made several versions for my children’s parties when they were young, even covering one in chocolate buttons for my son.
My delicate Vintage Teapot Cake is perfect for a sophisticated occasion. It’s not as difficult as it might first appear, but it does require some time and patience.
It will give you the chance to try some of the sugar paste and piping skills I’ve shown you over the past two weeks.
If you don’t feel up to tackling the sugar paste flowers, supermarkets now stock a great selection, and there’s a template for the handle and spout to make those easier to shape.
Fiona reveals her tips for decorating challenging fairy tale castle cakes (pictured) and easier alternatives such as fancies
Finally there’s a deliciously moist Lemon And Elderflower Cake. It’s perfect for spring, which is surely why Harry and Meghan have chosen that flavour for their wedding cake next weekend.
I’ve topped mine with giant sugar paste blooms, but you could use fresh elderflower sprigs if you prefer.
I’ve given you some online stockists for equipment and speciality items where appropriate, but if you want an even fuller list, see the first part of my series.
I do hope I’ve inspired you to try your hand at cake decorating, or given you the confidence to tackle new skills. Maybe, like me, you could become addicted to creating showstoppers in your spare time!
MODERATE: This cake, using my favourite chocolate cake recipe, is simple to decorate – just make sure your drizzle is the right consistency for neat drips.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4 and butter and line the tins with parchment. Then, make the first batch of cake mixture.
Pour 200ml of boiling water over 2tbsp cocoa powder, stir and cool. In a heatproof bowl set over gently simmering water, melt 100g of the chocolate and stir in 150g yoghurt and 1tsp vanilla.
Sift together 250g of the flour, 1tsp baking powder and 1tsp bicarbonate of soda. In the bowl of a food mixer, cream 180g butter and 300g sugar for 5 minutes, until really light.
Slowly add 3 eggs, lightly beaten, with 1tbsp of the flour mixture. Gently fold in the flour and chocolate mixtures.
Leave in the tins for 2 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Leave until cold. While they’re baking, make the second batch of mixture using the remaining ingredients in exactly the same quantities, so it’s ready to bake when the tins have cooled.
To make the buttercream, beat the butter and icing sugar for 5 minutes until creamy. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
Cool for 10 minutes then beat into the butter and sugar until smooth. Place 5tbsp of the buttercream in a bowl and stir in the caramel and salt, to make the filling.
To assemble your layers, level the cakes with a serrated knife then place one, upside down, on the cake drum, securing with buttercream.
Use the caramel filling to sandwich the cakes together, making sure the one on top has its flat bottom uppermost. Spread a thin layer of buttercream over the cake and chill for 15 minutes.
Put the cake on a stand or turntable – use a palette knife to help you lift it – then cover it and its drum with a thicker layer of buttercream.
Smooth with a scraper, then chill for 10-15 minutes. For the drizzle, melt the dark chocolate as for the buttercream.
Stir in the oil until you get a smooth, thick pouring consistency. To decorate, follow the step-by-step guide below.
Melt the dark chocolate as for the icing and drizzle. Line a baking tray with non-stick parchment and pour the chocolate into the tray, spreading it thinly.
Set in the fridge for 15 minutes. Repeat with the white chocolate. When both are set, break into shards and arrange on the cake, pushing each piece gently through the drizzle topping.
STEP 1 Remove the cake from the fridge, still on its stand or turntable. Place the drizzle in a plastic piping bag, snip the end to make a small hole and, starting slowly, gently pipe around the top edge of the cake as shown, so the chocolate starts to drip down the sides.
STEP 2 The chocolate should set on the chilled cake as it flows down but don’t overdo it – it looks best with a mix of short and long drips. If the drizzle pours and drips too quickly, wait until it has cooled slightly in the piping bag, and if it’s too thick, warm it in your hands.
STE P 3 Now cut a bigger hole in the bag and squeeze out the rest of the mixture to pour over and ‘flood’ the top of the cake, spreading it with a palette knife – this may increase the drips on the side too. Set in the fridge for 10 minutes, then decorate with your shards.
This is a fun way to decorate the chocolate cake from my recipe above – you only need 2 cakes, so halve the ingredients
Put 200g (7oz) chopped chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids) in a bowl. Bring 300ml (10fl oz) double cream to the boil, rest for a minute, then pour onto the chocolate and stir until smooth.
Cool then use ¼ of it to sandwich the cakes. Pour the rest over the top and sides. Chill for 10 minutes.
Mix ¼tsp of coloured dusting powder with ¼tsp of edible pearl lustre (from cake decorating shops), and add a drop of vodka to make a smooth paint.
Dip a brush in, then (test on paper first) flick your wrist to flick it on the cake. To splatter, use fingers to flick the brush hairs. Repeat with other colours.
CHALLENGING: This delightful toffee-flavoured sponge castle is sure to be greeted with pure delight – a perfect centrepiece for any birthday party.
Believe me, it looks more difficult to make than it actually is – my instructions will guide you through.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Butter the 2 x 20cm tins and the 15cm tin and line the bases with parchment.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the butter, eggs, sugars and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until well blended. Do not over-mix.
Divide between the 3 tins to equal depths. Bake the cakes for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer emerges clean.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Remove the papers and leave to cool fully.
Heat over a low heat until a deep caramel colour. Remove from the heat and add the cream and vanilla extract. Stir until you have a smooth, shiny caramel.
Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining butter until pale and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and beat for at least 5 minutes, or until light and creamy. Beat in the cooled toffee mixture.
Using a serrated knife, trim the cooled cakes level. Sandwich the 2 x 20cm cakes with buttercream, making sure the flat bottom of one cake is uppermost.
Cut the 15cm cake in half horizontally and sandwich back together with buttercream, making sure its flat bottom is uppermost.
Make up the royal icing as directed on the pack. Use a blob of it to stick the 20cm cake to its 20cm board, and the 15cm cake to the stacked 15cm drums. Spread the remaining buttercream all over both cakes and the sides of their board/drums.
On a work surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out 2 circles of pink sugar paste about 5mm thick and large enough to cover each cake and the sides of their cake board and drums. Use the circles to cover the cakes, gently rubbing the tops and sides until smooth.
Adhere the large cake to the 30cm drum with royal icing. Insert 4 of the dowels evenly, in a square shape in the centre under where the top tier will sit, to support it.
Push each stick down on the board until it will go no further, then mark with a pencil 1mm above the surface. Remove each rod, score where it is marked with a knife and snap off at that point.
Replace the rods in the holes. Spread a little royal icing on top and place the 15cm cake, on its drums, on top. To make your turrets and decorations, see steps 1-4 on the opposite page.
To finish your castle cake, stick mini marshmallows with royal icing around the edge of the cakes and stick a sugar pearl on each with royal icing.
Place a little royal icing in a piping bag. Using the No 1 nozzle, pipe windows and flower stems and leaves, and stick on glimmer flowers with royal icing.
Take some of the piece of reserved white sugar paste to make a door – using a small knife, cut a square and round off the top, and create a criss-cross pattern using the back of a knife.
Attach the door to the cake with royal icing, stick on 2 sugar pearl handles and surround the door with mini marshmallows, securing with royal icing as you go.
To make the heart decoration, cut out a heart shape in white sugar paste, spread with royal icing and sprinkle with 100s and 1,000s. Stick onto the cake with royal icing.
STEP 1 To make the turrets, cut the wide bases off 2 ice cream cones carefully with a knife, to make mini cones. Cover these and the 3 whole cones with royal icing using a palette knife. Sprinkle 100s and 1,000s onto a plate and gently roll each cone in the sprinkles until covered, then stand upright to dry. Roll 5 sausages of pink sugar paste for the turrets – mine were approximately 9cm long x 3.5cm wide, two 7cm x 2.5-3cm and two 5.5cm x 2cm
STEP 2 Insert dowelling rods through the 3 larger sausages, leaving enough sticking out at one end to go up inside your cones – test the length using the cones – and enough at the other end to insert fully into the cake (about 17cm). Insert rods into the 2 small sausages, leaving enough sticking out at one end for the cone. Lay them all down to dry, turning occasionally so there is no flat side. For the ramparts, roll out five 22cm x 2cm strips of white sugar paste, 5mm thick. Cut out squares along one side and stick on the bases of the cones with royal icing.
STEP 3 Mould 5 blobs of sugar paste into rough cone shapes and push onto the tops of the dowels to support the cones. Stick the 3 larger sausages on their dowels into the top tier (our cake above is fully decorated, but yours will not be at this stage). Stick pearls on the ramparts with royal icing. Reserve some white sugar paste to make a door and heart later (see main recipe)
STEP 4 Place the ice cream cones on top of the dowels. Attach the smaller 2 sausages to the cake drum and sides of the bottom tier with royal icing. To make flags, cut 5 x 6cm lengths of ribbon, cover with double-sided Sellotape and fold in half over the top of cocktail sticks. Cut notches in the ends so they look like flags and insert gently into the tops of the cones
FIONA SAYS: You can make the spout and handle out of thick card and paint them instead of icing on her vintage teapot
CHALLENGING: I was inspired to create this teapot by a visit to the Royal Crown Derby factory in Derby. Although it looks complicated, it really isn’t.
If you want to make the roses, see my Language Of Flowers cake in part one of my cake decoration guide.
If you’re making your handle and spout in modelling paste, rather than cardboard (see tip, above right), then do this one or even two days ahead (see below).
If you’re making flowers, rather than using shop-bought, you can do this on the day. Take just a small amount of the white sugar paste (the rest will be used to cover the cake) and colour tiny amounts with drops of your chosen colours, kneading it through.
Roll out thinly on a board dusted with icing sugar, cut out flowers and leaves with cutters and leave for a few hours. Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan 150°C/gas 3 and grease the tins.
Shape 2 thick rings of twisted foil for their rounded bases to rest on in the oven, to stop them rolling. Sift the flour, cornflour and salt into a bowl.
Beat the eggs, caster sugar and lemon zest until fluffy and slightly thickened. Fold in the crème fraîche, then the flour mixture, butter and lemon juice.
Meanwhile, make the syrup by mixing the sugar and lemon juice. When cooked, place the tins on wire racks. After a few minutes, run a knife around the edges then turn them out.
Brush the syrup over the cakes, cool completely, then chill for half an hour. To make the buttercream, beat the butter until pale and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and lemon zest and beat for 5 minutes.
Add the lemon juice gradually, to taste, and keep beating. Trim the wide tops of the cakes so they are flat, and trim the narrow base of one slightly.
Place the cake whose narrow base you trimmed onto the cake board, securing with buttercream, then sandwich the other on top with buttercream to make a ball. Cover the ball with the remaining buttercream, then decorate.
STEP 1 Make the royal icing as directed on the pack, place in a piping bag with the nozzle and seal the end with clingfilm so it doesn’t dry out. Knead the sugar paste on a work surface dusted with icing sugar, then roll into a 35-40cm circle, 5-6mm thick. Use the rolling pin to help lift it over the cake
STEP 2 Ease the sugar paste around the cake, rubbing with your hands and smoothing away imperfections. Press in around the base and cut away any excess, keeping the trimmings. While it is still soft, indent a line where you will insert the spout and 2 on the opposite side for the handle
STEP 3 Roll out some of your remaining sugar paste, cut a 9.5cm circle and stick it on top of the teapot with royal icing. Push the spout and handle into their slots, using royal icing to secure. Roll a thin sausage of sugar paste and use edible glue to stick around the edge of the lid. Make a sugar paste ball and stick on top with edible glue. Paint both with gold lustre, as for the handle and spout
STEP 4 To decorate the teapot with painted leaves and flowers, try your design first on a piece of paper. You simply dilute food colouring pastes with water and use like watercolours. Use royal icing to attach your sugar paste flowers and finish with pearl centres, stuck on with edible glue or royal icing. You can also pipe on dots for detail. Brush flowers with gold lustre to highlight
Trace the cardboard templates on the right, transfer to cardboard and cut out – they should be true to size.
Dust a work surface with icing sugar, then knead your Mexican modelling paste until soft and pliable.
Roll out the modelling paste to about 4mm thick, and cut out the spout using the template. Make the handle by rolling a long sausage, then shaping it like the template.
Mix a little gold edible lustre with a few drops of white spirit (gin or vodka) to make a paint, and use a paint brush to put highlights onto your handle and spout.
EASY: This is one large cake, cut into little squares. You can make your own decorations or simply top with ready-made ones. There’s a great selection at many larger supermarkets.
If you’re making your own sugar paste flowers, rather than using shop-bought, simply colour small amounts of the sugar paste with drops of your chosen colours, kneading it through, then roll out thinly on a board dusted with icing sugar.
Cut out flowers with the cutters and leave for a few hours to dry. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. Butter a 30cm x 23cm Swiss roll tin and line with parchment.
Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. In another bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar for a minute or two; you don’t want them too thick. Fold in the egg whites, ground almonds and baking powder.
Pour into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then turn onto a wire rack covered with parchment.
When the cake is cold, level the top with a knife and turn it upside down. Warm the jam then push through a sieve, add the flower water and brush it over the cake.
On a work surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out the marzipan to the same size as the top of the cake.
Lift over the cake, press down gently and trim the edges. Cut the cake into even-sized (about 4cm) squares. Chill for an hour to make them easier to ice.
Gradually mix the orange flower water into the icing sugar, adding enough water to achieve a thickish pouring consistency. Divide between 3-4 bowls and colour each with your chosen shade.
Place the cakes on a wire rack with a sheet of paper underneath to catch the drips, and spoon the icing over, easing it down the sides with a teaspoon.
Place your flowers on top before the icing sets. Add sugar pearls to the centres of the blossoms, sticking on with royal icing in a piping bag. Pipe details on top as you like, then pack into paper or foil cases.
MODERATE: This cake flavour is very on-trend right now – particularly now Harry and Meghan have chosen it for their wedding cake – and it’s one of my all-time favourites.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/ fan 160°C/gas 4. Grease and line the base of the cake tins with baking parchment.
Place the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs gradually, then fold in the pistachios, almonds, ground rice or rice flour, lemon zest and juice, and elderflower cordial.
Stir until mixed. Divide between the tins and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch or when a skewer emerges clean.
Meanwhile, make the syrup by mixing the icing sugar, lemon juice and elderflower syrup in a jug. Pour it over the cakes while they are still warm, then leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes.
Run a knife around the inside of the tins to release the cakes, then turn them onto a wire rack to cool completely. Sandwich the 2 cakes together with apricot jam, then turn the whole cake upside down so that the top surface is flat.
Use a blob of buttercream to secure the cake to the drum, and then spread the rest of it all over the cake, including in the gap between the 2 sponges, to seal in the crumbs and give a neat shape.
Place in the fridge for 30 minutes. On a work surface dusted with icing sugar, knead the white sugar paste to make it more malleable and then roll it out to form a circle slightly larger than the cake and sides, to a depth of about 5mm.
Rub over the top and sides until smooth, cutting away any excess. Attach large blooms and leaves (see step-by-step, to the right) to the cake with royal icing.
These sugar blooms and leaves will keep well for two months in a cardboard box in a dry place away from direct sunlight
BOOK OFFER: For more decorating ideas, see Fiona’s books Celebration Cakes: Party Cakes For Every Occasion and Bake & Decorate (both published by Quadrille, £12.99). To order a copy of either for £9.74 visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640, p&p is free on orders over £15. Offer valid until 2 June 2018
STEP 1 Divide the flower paste into 4 equal parts and place 3 of the pieces into different plastic bags, so they don’t dry out. Take the fourth and knead to soften. Mix with the red colouring paste, adding a little white vegetable fat if it’s too firm. Place in a plastic bag and seal, and repeat with other colours so you end up with 3 petal colours and one for green leaves and flower centres
STEP 2 Make your petals just a few at a time as they will dry quickly – you will need 4 large and 3 smaller ones for a flower and it’s a good idea to have spares in case of breakage. To make, roll the flower paste out thinly (to about 1mm thick) onto a board lightly dusted with icing sugar. Cut your petals, transfer to a foam mat and use the ball tool to soften the edges by rolling it over the paste
STEP 3 Lightly grease the petal veiner with white vegetable fat, lift one of the petals onto the veiner as shown, then press both sides together. Remove the petal and place in the apple tray so it will dry slightly cupped. Repeat for all the petals and leave for at least 1 hour, until they feel leathery but can still be shaped. Make up the royal icing as directed on the packet and place in a piping bag. Mould a square of foil into a little cup shape, ready to support your flower as you assemble it
STEP 4 Attach the large petals together with royal icing, and place inside the foil cup. Make another layer on top with the smaller petals, sticking with royal icing. Roll out the green paste and cut leaves with your template. Roll a ball of green paste for a centre. Pinch the top to make a star shape then paint the edges, and the stamen tips, with yellow colouring. Cut the stamens in half and attach to the centre with edible glue, then stick on the flower with royal icing to finish. Don’t eat the stamens
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