Above is a gorgeous little cake-tester that I got for my birthday this year. How cute! The name "cake tester" also perfectly describes me last week, as I furiously baked cakes for my friend George's bday on the weekend. After reviewing the super-pretty Cake Chic for The Gastronomer's Bookshelf I was inspired to try the cover recipe for Cherry Blossom Bites - small squares of vanilla Victoria sponge layered with vanilla syrup, jam and marzipan, dipped in pink fondant and decorated with sugar cherry-blossoms. I'm not normally a fondant-girl, but the pictures were so cute, and the book so inspiring that I just had to give it a go.
On Thursday night, I made the vanilla syrup...
... and baked the 20cm square Victoria sponge, brushing it with a little of the syrup.
On Friday after work, giving the sponge a good day to cool down and slightly dry out so it wouldn't crumble, I sliced the sponge into 3 lengthwise and brushed one layer with vanilla syrup. (At this stage I was getting alarmed at the sugar so didn't brush each layer as the book suggests.) I made a buttercream with equal amounts of butter and icing sugar, and spread it in between the layers, and on top. (Even though the recipe asks for a layer of marzipan on top, I know very few people apart from myself who actually like it!) I hot-knifed the top of the cake to make it nice and smooth - a tip I picked up from Planet Cake, actually - then wrapped up the whole thing well and popped it in the fridge.
Whilst cleaning up, I decided to try some of the cake offcuts and holy **** they were sweet! I mean, tooth-aching, migraine-inducing sweet. Even without the buttercream. I couldn't believe that we were meant to eat the layered cake dipped in fondant - total sugar overload! How feral. There's another recipe for miniature cakes in the book with THREE layers of buttercream plus ONE layer of marzipan, and I don't get how anyone could actually eat it. You can't really cut down on the sugar in the cake or buttercream because it would affect the cake's texture, and unlike rolled fondant, dipping fondant can't be peeled off easily when eating. I just don't get it. There was no way I was going to bring that cake to my friends. What a waste of time!
I couldn't very well rock up without a cake when I'd promised one - even though I'm sure George wouldn't have minded - so on Saturday afternoon I whipped up a half-quantity of the Planet Cake chocolate mud cake in a 20cm square tin. This was in the midst of frantically getting changed and applying make-up, haha. I let it cool for as long as I could (which was about 20 minutes in the fridge), and carefully sliced it into 16 squares. Ideally you'd let this sit overnight so it firms up a bit before slicing, but I did not have time. I used my sharpest knife and used a great deal of caution.
I then made some ganache...
...then, using a jug, I poured the ganache over each cake...
... and roughly spread them flat with an offset spatula. I then squished them into muffin papers and thence into a 9-inch cake box. Ta-dah!
Aah... much more my style. Simple-looking, delicious and just plain GOOD.
For the record, I still like the Cake Chic book, but more for its decorating tips, techniques and guidelines. It's obvious that the base recipes are way too sweet for my taste. For the moment I'm sticking to simple cakes without the excess fuss.