A cake pretty enough to celebrate the first birthday of the sweetest baby around…well, almost pretty enough, she is beyond gorgeous after all.
I love making cakes. I love eating cakes. I love cakes of all shapes and sizes, all flavours and colours and at any time of the day or night. When it comes to cake I’m not one to be fussy.
I’ve made (and eaten) a lot of cakes, but had never attempted a cake in the shape of a number before. I suppose I had been put off by the possibility of having to buy yet another cake tin. That was until I found this…
Armed with this chart, and both a round and a square cake tin you can make ANY number you want. I know, all your dreams just came true. Seriously though, you will thank me when the day comes when you desperately need to make a cake in the shape of a number…
To make this cake the essential kit you will need:
- 2 x square cake tins with loose bottoms (tee hee…I’m childish I know)
- Wilton 1M icing tip
- piping bag – I buy the disposable ones, as once you’ve tried washing a reusable one once, you will never want to do it again.
Right, let’s get baking!
I always use the Hummingbird Vanilla sponge recipe which is foolproof and makes a lovely light cake. (Here, I used two cake tins, but this recipe could also be divided into three round cake tins for a lovely triple decker cake)
- 240g plain flour
- 280g caster sugar
- 3 tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 240ml whole milk
- 2 eggs
- ½tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3
- Line two cake tins with baking parchment and butter the sides of the tins.
- Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
- Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula).
- Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix. When it looks this this - it is perfect!
- Spoon the mixture into the cake tins bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched.
- A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cakes to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- Once the cakes are completely cool, make a sugar syrup (just boil an equal quantity of water and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved) and use a pastry brush to brush over each cake. This is the moisture maker and is the secret to amazing cakes. You are welcome.
- Spread raspberry jam on each cake and sandwich together with some vanilla buttercream: This is my buttercream recipe I always use, also a Hummingbird creation- I made 4 x the recipe, as the icing roses use a lot of icing: 250g icing sugar (sifted), 80g unsalted butter (at room temperature), 25ml whole milk, a couple of drops of vanilla extract, food colouring of your choice (optional).
- Put the icing sugar and butter in a freestanding mixer and then cover with a clean teatowel. If you don't do this your kitchen will resemble a snow dome. Believe me, I've been there.
- Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
- Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed.
- Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes. You can buy big rectangular cake boards but I ran out of time, so I taped two square cake boards together to accommodate my monster cake.
- To make a cake in the number 1: You need to slice the cake into three equal strips. The first and second strip will make the base and the stem for the number 1 shape. On the third strip slice half way down at a jaunty angle and this will make the beak of the nose (do number 1's have noses?) for the top of the 1.
- Then lay the cake pieces out into the shape. At this point you may feel a slight rising panic that the three pieces don't join exactly and there are gaping gaps between them and some of them are oozing jam. Don't panic. It is at this stage that you can practice being a plasterer. Take a palette knife and smother on a layer of buttercream. Spread icing in all the gaps and by the time you have finished, it will look like a cohesive cake. Now, breathe. Easy peasy. You shouldn't be able to see any of the cake underneath this layer.
- Pop in the fridge for half an hour or so to harden up.
- Then fill a piping bag with icing and use a Wilton 1M to pipe roses all over the cake.
- These are much easier than you think - having the right tip is the hardest thing here. Then practice on a piece of parchment paper. Start in the middle of the circle and then slowly but with even pressure, move your tip in a circular pattern around the centre.
- You can spread the left over icing over the cake board like I did if you want to complete the look. See, wasn't that much easier than you thought?? Give it a go!
- You don't have to make a number one for an adorable baby like I did, you could also make it for that special person in your life, to, you know, let them know they're you're number one...