Well here’s a change. I’m not talking about baking this cake, I’m talking about how I decorated it.
Don’t be mistaken. I did bake the cake. I baked the layers last weekend and then froze them in a double layer of Gladwrap. The recipe I used you’ll find in the post Baileys Irish Cream Mini Cupcakes. One of the things I was concerned about was how much mixing I had to do to get the colours right. I was colouring each layer green but varying intensities. I needn’t have worried. The texture was just fine.
This was the very first cake that I’ve frozen and then decorated. I took the cake layers out of the freezer Friday night and left them in the fridge. This morning I trimmed the tops to make them even. I’ve had a bad experience on Christmas Day of not bothering to get the tops even and then the frosting was squirting out of the layer.
I’d made a simple syrup for the Orange Cupcakes which I’ve left in the fridge so to each layer I used a pastry brush to cover the cut side with the syrup.
But I guess first I should show you my setup for making sure this cake wasn’t going to reposition itself as I iced it, nor was it going to leave a messy board.
To the cake stand I put a little dollop of frosting to adhere my round cardboard base. To the base I added a smaller dollop of frosting so that the doily (yes, a doily!) wouldn’t move. Then I placed strips of baking paper around the edge of the doily. Once I had my bottom row of icing on I would then pull the strips out. And everything would be pristine.
What I didn’t think about is that after crumb coating the cake I was going to return it to the fridge. So that first dollop of frosting that was holding my cardboard round to the stand meant I had to prize it off. Nevermind.
There are a number of stages to decorating a layered cake and I knew it was going to take a bit of time, so I used the camera on my phone (Samsung Galaxy SIII), uploaded those photos to the Facebook page and added a few notes to those photos. It was a lot easier than trying to take the photos quickly with the DSLR.
I had decided last Saturday how I was going to decorate the Rainbow. A number of blog posts I’ve read had said how simple the petal effect is. I thought this was going to be a perfect opportunity to try it, given it’s in rows. My biggest concern was about whether the cake would be high enough to get 7 colours in. And the answer is no. I knew that if a colour had to go, and hoped it was only one colour, that Indigo would be out.
Next I wondered how much buttercream I’d need. In anticipation of needing a LOT of it, I bought three 1kg bags of icing sugar. I whipped up 2 cups of butter and 2 cups of Kremelta and knew I’d need 8 cups of icing sugar.
The only thing is that the KitchenAid was so full of the butter/kremelta mix that I had to halve it so that I could get 4 cups, sifted icing sugar in.
The crumb coating and the green layer only took 240gm of buttercream. But I had no idea how much I’d need for the petals, and I didn’t want to run out and then have to try and match the shade of colour.
I started out by weighing 220gm of butter cream and set about making the violet and blue. I wasn’t sure how much Americolor gel I’d need to reach the colour I was after. In the end the colours are a lot more pastel than I was aiming for, but they are still a rainbow. And I didn’t need even half of the buttercream I’d mixed. So from then on I used only 100gm of buttercream for each colour. And I had enough for the rainbow at the top, and still more left over. I’ll use the leftover colours for decorating the Stout Cupcakes I made this morning. That’s tomorrow’s task.
As you can imagine, the Petal Effect isn’t going to join nicely at the end/start point. I smooshed the first petal so that it was flat as I had read about, this was supposed to make it look more natural when ending the row. But it looked nasty. Or at least mine looked nasty. So I decided on a dot, creating a seam down the back at the start/end point. It’s a lot better, but still not going to win any prizes for neatness.
I used Wilton disposable icing bags for this. I had two number 12 tips which I used for the orange and yellow because both those colours I’d need for other decorating I had (Leprechauns buckle and beard). The other colours I cut the end off the disposable bag so each had the same width of opening, so all the petals would be the same size.
I had practiced a line of 6 petals and knew I didn’t have enough height for 7 rows of petals. So the Indigo was out. And as it was the petals sort of just overlap the row below. I was cutting it fine.
It all worked out pretty good. It took around 10 minutes a row. Each petal required smooshing from left to right before repeating that all over again. I got good at resting the icing bag and grabbing the offset spatula to work with. But almost ever time I had to wipe the spatula as the previous swipe always seemed to have touched that layer beneath it and had a little bit of that colour sitting on the spatula. It would have been easier if the cake was easily high enough to take the rows but I made it work the best I could. And I’m not disappointed in my effort. In fact I really didn’t want to cut the cake. I just wanted to admire it a little bit longer.
I was happy that the cake didn’t do the big dip as I cut into it. It was sturdy enough not to move about as the knife dragged through it. And I could feel each time I hit the frosting between layers. The cake cut nicely and didn’t leave any crumbs. It didn’t cause me any grief extracting that one slice. Has anyone yet noticed that I have the Irish hat facing the wrong way? Of course not, you’re all looking at that perfect cut slice of cake (I hope).
I needed to know if the cake felt fresh, if the texture was ok after all that mixing in of colour, if it was just as good after being frozen. The answer to each was YES. The first slice was the biggest. I sliced another two slices so we could have some for dessert. I asked which slice people wanted, with the clouds (being thicker frosting) or the rainbow, and when all was said and done I was left with the biggest slice and the most frosting! I have to say it was getting to be a little difficult to keep eating. I didn’t flavour the frosting at all. The cake had Baileys in it and I didn’t want to detract from that. Mr Fussy said he could taste the Baileys, but as soon as he had a forkful with icing the sweetness overpowered the flavour.
The three-layered 6” cake will get you between 8-12 slices. Because it’s 3 layers high, I reckon 12 still gives plenty of cake, and a lot of frosting!
This cake is a bit of work, but so worth it. It was my first time doing so many things, starting with colouring fondant black to make the pot. After trying several different ways of moulding it, I wrapped it around the end of the pestle and then folded the top back. I left if overnight before stuffing it with baking paper and then adding yellow Pebbles. The bag I bought didn’t have nearly enough yellow pebbles. I bought another two bags, just to be sure.
So as I don’t forget just how much I learnt from what is probably my first decorated cake of this type, here’s the things new to me:
- Colouring the cake batter
- Freezing cake layers
- Trimming the tops
- Colouring fondant
- Colouring buttercream
- Preparing the decorating surface
- Using simple syrup
- Petal effect piping technique
- Making fluffy clouds
Well that’s almost everything! Even the cake itself was a recipe I’ve not used before (since I modified it at the last minute to allow me to colour the batter).
So while this isn’t perfect, and I am a perfectionist, I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out given my experience and the number of points things could have turned nasty.