The cake is not, strictly speaking, a traditional velvet recipe, but I'm using poetic license. I used the recipe from Heather Baird's SprinkleBakes book for her Neopolitan Cake. I've been a big fan of Heather's blog, SprinkleBakes for some time, and when her book came out earlier this month, I had to buy it. Heather's work is one of the most artistic and inspirational I have come across. Everything seems to be executed with so much precision, but there are some witty touches, too. Just my kind of baking book. Some of it is a little complex of course, but I chose this particular recipe because it seemed fairly easy. I made some adaptations though, and had to convert the ingredients into UK weights.
I also needed something to inspire me for decoration, as I didn't want to simply put a load of red, white and blue M&Ms on the top (although I did consider it and let's just say that the M&Ms for it I bought found another home ;) That's a post for another day!). Some browsing led me to this spectacular Blue Velvet Cake on the Betty Crocker site. I loved the idea of the hard sugar decorations, but as it was something I had never tried before, viewed it with some trepidation. Still, I decided to take the bull by the horns and I was so glad I did. The sugar, with the addition of the blue colouring, gave the most amazing stained glass effect - especially held up to the sun. I'm hooked!
The cake itself is a fairly dense, even textured sponge, with a vanilla flavour. The frosting is cream cheese and butter cream, flavoured with vanilla. To be honest, I think it may be best served with some fresh berries (and blueberries, strawberries and raspberries were another decoration I considered), to add another dimension to the flavour. When I made the sponge, although I normally would use golden caster sugar, I made sure to use white, and tried to use pale butter, so that the sponge stayed as light a colour as possible. The coloured sponge is made using Wilton gel paste colouring. Although you do need to use quite a bit, I don't think it affected the flavour - but you do get multicoloured tongue of course! I did also use an icing brightener - Wilton's White White - to try and get the icing as white as possible.
Jubilee Royal Velvet Cake
340g softened unsalted butter
685g caster sugar
685g cake flour (or use plain sponge flour)
2 tablespoons baking powder
12 egg whites, at room temperature (each egg weighed, in the shell, around 56g / 2 oz)
1 tspn vanilla extract
Food colouring - I used Wilton Red Red, Royal Blue (and a dash of Violet with the blue)
Cream Cheese Buttercream
450g softened cream cheese
225g softened unsalted butter
1 tspn vanilla
750g icing sugar (approx - just add until you get the consistency you want)
1 cup sugar (225g)
1/2 cup light corn syrup (118ml)
1/4 cup water (59ml)
Blue food colouring
Preheat the oven to 140 Fan / 160 conventional / 325 C / Gas 3. Grease and base line three 23cm (9 inch) round sandwich pans, and then grease the paper, too.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla to the milk. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Add to the mix, alternating in thirds with half the milk (so flour, milk, flour, milk,flour).
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until you reach the stiff peak stage, but don't overbeat so they get dry. Gently fold into the batter.
Have two bowls ready. Using a cup measure, dole out the batter into one sandwich pan (which will be your white sponge) and the two bowls. I got around 4 cups in each one, but make sure you measure it out to try and get the sponges as equal as possible. Add the red food colouring to one bowl of batter, and the blue to the other. Turn out into the remaining two pans.
Bake in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. I positioned the red and blue sponges on the middle tray of the oven, with the white on the bottom. This again, was to try and make sure that the white sponge didn't get too brown (it will a little, but you're going to trim the top of the cake later to make it flat, so most will come off - but it pays to try and keep it as pale as possible).
Leave to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
To make the buttercream frosting, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Add in the icing sugar and beat until smooth, and the consistency you want. I spread mine onto the cake using a spatula and so I wanted it firm so it didn't droop, but still flexible enough to spread.
To assemble the cake, trim your sponges with a serrated knife so that the tops are flat. Put a dollop of frosting on your cake stand / plate to hold the bottom sponge in place. Position your bottom sponge (I used the blue) on your cake stand. Add some frosting to the top and level. Add the next layer, and continue until the cake is assembled. I then put a very thin coat of frosting on the cake - this is known as a crumb coat and is designed to stop the cake crumbling when you frost it properly. You chill the cake once it is crumb coated in the fridge for 30 mins - 1 hour, so that this layer gets firm.
|Crumb coated and ready to go in the fridge
To make the crown, have some baking trays lined with parchment ready. I then put the sugar, corn syrup and water into a saucepan fitted with a sugar thermometer, and heated it over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once it has - STOP stirring. Let the sugar solution bubble until the thermometer reads 175C / 310F.
Remove from the heat and add in your food colouring, stirring to mix. BE CAREFUL as the sugar is very, very hot. Using a spoon, I then drizzled the sugar to form the shape I wanted (well, tried too, as it was a bit thick and gloopy, and set quite quickly, but I was pretty pleased with what I achieved on my first attempt!). I managed to get one whole crown shape, and one that I could easily split into two, so that I could create an almost three dimensional crown. I left these to set hard - probably for about an hour.
I then placed them carefully on to the top of the cake. I don't know whether it was because it was so hot and humid, but I found that my fingers left fingerprints on the sugar, so I used small pieces of parchment to hold the shapes with to avoid this.
As I've also used an American Recipe, I'm also going to enter it into the United Bakes of America blogging challenge run by Gem of Cupcake Crazy. As you could make the red, white and blue representative of the US, France etc, I think it's also a real 'special relationship' cake!
Whatever you're doing, I hope you have a fantastic Jubilee weekend,