Friday, 30 April 2010

The Birthday Party - Part II (The Cakes)

With Lily's birthday falling mid-week and her party taking place on the weekend, it seemed this birthday called for two birthday cakes. The resulting cakes came about from my not wanting to bake two sponge cakes (we'd be eating it morning, noon and night for the following week!) and Lily request for a princess cake. Now for those who are familiar with my baking, you will know that I favour natural decorations of seasonal flowers, herbs and fruits. I certainly am not comfortable with an icing bag!

After much research on the web for a 'princess cake', decided to try my hand at a cake that is made up of a Barbie style doll with a 'cake' skirt. Despite looking quite complicated it wasn't too difficult. I used a basic vanilla sponge recipe and made a baked a sponge in a traditional sandwich cake tin. Then I made a dome shaped sponge by doubling the sponge recipe and baking it (for longer) in a oven proof pudding bowl of the same diameter to the cake tins.

When cooked and cooled I cut a hole for the doll to sit in using a circular cutter. Then I sliced the dome cake horizontally into three and then starting with the two sandwich tin sponges built up the skirt, sandwiching the layers together with a little strawberry jam. Once the skirt is assembled you wrap the doll's body in cling film and plunge her into her vanilla sponge skirt.

Depending on the height of your sponge skirt you might have to temporarily remove the dolls legs (you can prop her up on an egg cup or two if need be). Once you are happy with the positioning whip up a large bowl of butter icing coloured to your liking and cover the skirt. A good tip is top do what is called a 'crumb' layer first. To get a smooth finish on your crumb layer hold each end of a strip of paper between your thumb and forefinger and drag it up the skirt. Then pop the cake in the fridge for 20 mins to 'set' your icing. Then repeat with a top layer of icing and use a platte knife to create a draped fabric effect. Then use a piping bag to ice over the cling film wrapped torso and finally decorate to your hearts desire with sugar hearts and stars. I finished the cake off with two sparkler candles as wands in each hand.

The added bonus is that the birthday girl, get to keep the doll (fully clothed and with legs back in tact, I hasten to add!).

For Lily's actual birthday I decided to make a Birthday cake that would double up as a dessert to follow her requested 'pizza' dinner. Nanny and Grandad came for her birthday so there were four adults and two children - although this cake could have almost stretched to that number again.

This was my first ever Ice Cream Cake. It is a bit of a cheat and very simple to make. Using a loose bottom cake tin make a 'cheesecake' biscuit base using crushed biscuits such as digestives and melted butter. After greasing your tin press the biscuit base in the base of the tin and place it in the fridge for 20 mins or so to set and harden. Next you need two 500ml tubs of your favourite shop bought ice cream. I used a chocolate ice cream and a cookies n' cream ice cream. Take your first tub out of the freezer and allow it to soften slightly. Decant it into a bowl and give it a bit of a mix with a wooden spoon. Spread the ice cream out over your biscuit base making sure it completely covers it. Level the top and cover with cling film, pressing it down into the to the tin so that it rests of the surface of the ice cream. Freeze until hard (overnight is ideal), then repeat the process with your second choice of ice cream. You could then leave your ice cream cake as is, but I decided to finish it off with a thin ganache layer (a melted chocolate and cream mix) which again I froze to set. Once ready to serve the cake needs to defrost a little. It's a bit trial and error, but 30 mins in the fridge should do it. Run a sharp knife around the inside edge of the tin to help ease the cake out on to a stand or plate. I then decorated mine with white chocolate sticks, fresh strawberries and blueberries and of course and candle!

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