a birthday cake

Birthdays right? They come every year. They come on the same date every year. And every year, your age becomes that little bit more alarming (or is that just me?). People stop celebrating birthdays eventually. That’s fine, after the first thirty or so, they must become quite predictable. I don’t mind if people choose to skip their birthday. What I just cannot understand though, is why people would want to skip their birthday cake… it’s the one day of the year when it is your right to eat cake!! Why would you forgo that?!! I spent my last birthday traipsing through various airports and immigrations, lugging heavy bags all over everywhere and, finally, arriving in Kathmandu at night, but still, I made sure I ate cake. 

So I don’t care if you don’t celebrate your birthday with balloons, parties, people… Just make sure you eat a piece of cake! (I really, really like cake, guys.)

And so when my lovely littlest cousin turned twelve on Sunday, I asked if  I could be the one to bring cake. And she said yes. I was very excited and began plotting straight away- it was going to be the best birthday cake ever! This is what I came up with…

And this was Riley’s face when she realised what was hidden underneath all that buttercream…

Success! Happy Birthday Riley Mae. 

P.S. If anybody is planning a celebration or event that cries out for cake, I am your girl. Get in touch and I will endeavour to make your perfect cake. 

But if you want to make this here rainbow cake for yourself? Read on! A few tips to make things easier before you begin: you need a fair bit of time and a fair bit of patience. Four same sized smallish cake tins wouldn’t go astray either, but I managed with just two. I made the cakes the night before we ate it, wrapped them in plastic and left them in the fridge. Then the next morning all I had to do was build and decorate the cake. You could do the whole lot in one day but it’d be an entire day spent making one cake. You also need scales so you can measure out equal amounts of cake mix to colour. Ready? Go. 


Vanilla Rainbow Cake with Lemon Buttercream and Blueberry (from Decorated by April Carter) 

INGREDIENTS

for the cake (I made double for my rainbow)

225g unsalted butter

300g castor sugar

4 medium eggs, lightly beaten

300g plain flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

120ml milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

food colours (I used gels as they are more vibrant)

for the filling

one jar of blueberry jam (or whatever jam you like really)

for the buttercream (again, doubled for mine)

200g unsalted butter

320g icing sugar

80 ml double cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

finely grated rind of 1 lemon

to decorate

sprinkles, edible glitter, flowers, go nuts!

 

 

 

METHOD

As I said, I made double the mixture for my rainbow cake, but I did it in two goes, rather than just doubling the recipe (the reason being, once the liquid has been added to flour in a cake mix, it must be put in the oven as soon as possible). So my first batch made four layers, then I started all over again for my second four. And yes, I know my cake has only seven layers… I may have made one colouring mistake.  

Grease and flour your two (or four) 15cm cake tins and preheat the oven to 170 degrees c. With an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (3-4 minutes). Add the egg, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. 

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a clean bowl and mix. Add half the dry mix to the wet and beat until just combined. Add the milk and vanilla extract whilst beating, then add the remaining dry mix and beat until just combined. 

Now, colouring time! Using a set of scales and four clean bowls, measure out four equal amounts of cake mix, add the colours and mix until it looks like you want it to. If you have four tins, great! Pour in the mix, pop them in the oven for 15-20 minutes (maybe check after 10), and begin again for your second batch of cake mix. If you have two tins (and this is where the patience comes in), bake the first two colours, rinse the tins in cold water to cool them and bake the second two colours. Then make your second batch. Once all your layers are cooked and cooled, wrap them in plastic and sit them in the fridge overnight (or for at least two hours). They will be firmer and easier to work with.

To make the buttercream use an electric mixer to beat the butter until pale and creamy (3-4 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients and beat for a further 2-3 minutes until smooth. And if your buttercream curdles (which mine did, oh joy), don’t freak out! Just beat the living crap out of it on your mixer’s highest setting for 5-10 minutes and that should fix it (it worked for me but if it doesn’t for you, Google will help). 

Assembly time. Unwrap your layers and level them using a very sharp knife or cake leveller. I also used a plate as a stencil and cut my layers into slightly smaller, more even circles- feeding the offcuts to Will, myself and the compost bin. Spread a nice (relatively thick) even layer of jam on layer one, top with layer two and continue. Once your cake is assembled, get a knife and smear a very, very thin (almost see through) layer of buttercream all over the cake to lock in the crumbs and ensure a smooth finish. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set. Now using a small knife, smear buttercream from top to bottom all over the cake to make a smooth even finish. This may take a while, but it’s totes worth it. 

And then decorate! The funnest part- apart, of course, from the devouring. 

Woohoo, you’ve made an awesome rainbow cake!    

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