Categories
1. Birthday Cakes

Mojito cake

Ingredients

  • 225g salted butter , softened, plus extra for the tins
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 limes , zest finely grated
  • 50g natural yogurt
  • lime wedges, lime zest and mint leaves, to decorate

For the syrup

  • 3 limes , juiced (90ml)
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • small bunch mint , leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 120ml white rum

For the buttercream

  • 150g unsalted butter , softened
  • 400g icing sugar , sieved
  • 2 limes , zested
  • 50g cream cheese

Method:

  • STEP 1Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter and line two loose-bottomed 20cm round cake tins.
  • STEP 2Put the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat for 5 mins with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then fold through the flour, grated lime zest and yogurt. Divide the batter between the prepared tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 mins, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave in the tins for a min, then turn out onto wire racks.
  • STEP 3To make the syrup, put half the lime juice and all the sugar and mint leaves into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, adding 1 tbsp water if needed to dissolve the sugar. Gently bubble for 7-10 mins, or until syrupy. Remove from the heat and stir through the rum and remaining lime juice. Leave to infuse for 10 mins, then strain into a bowl.
  • STEP 4Prick the warm cakes all over with a cocktail stick and pour over the syrup. Leave to cool completely.
  • STEP 5To make the buttercream, put the butter, icing sugar and lime zest in a bowl and beat with an electric whisk for 5 mins until light and fluffy. Beat in the cream cheese until just combined, being careful not to overbeat.
  • STEP 6Put one of the syrup-soaked sponges on a large serving plate and spoon over one-third of the buttercream, spreading it over with a palette knife. Top with the other sponge and spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with the lime wedges, lime zest and mint leaves. Will keep in the fridge for up to three days.
Categories
1. Birthday Cakes

Unicorn cake

Ingredients

  • 300g white fondant icing
  • edible gold lustre
  • coloured sprinkles to decorate (optional)
  • black fondant icing

For the sponge

  • 325g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for the tin
  • 325g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 6 eggs
  • 325g self-raising flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 4tbsp milk

For the buttercream

  • 450g unsalted butter, softened
  • 900g icing sugar
  • tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 200g salted caramel (optional)
  • purple, pink and blue gel food colourings

Method:

  • STEP 1 Start by making the unicorn’s horn and ears – they’ll need to dry completely before use. Roll 225g white fondant into a long sausage shape, with one end slightly thicker than the other. Starting from the thicker end, twist the sausage into a tight coil until you have a horn shape. Pinch the small end upwards into a pointed tip. Next, divide the remaining white fondant into two pieces. Roll each one out into a rough oval on a sheet of baking parchment, then pinch the top end of each oval upwards to make a point. Set the ears aside with the horn and leave to dry while you make the cake.
  • STEP 2 Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter the base of three 20cm sandwich tins and line with baking parchment. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric whisk for 8-10 mins until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift in the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt, and fold in using a large metal spoon. Add just enough of the milk to create a soft dropping consistency.
  • STEP 3 Divide the batter between the prepared tins and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25-30 mins, or until golden and firm to the touch. Leave to cool slightly in the tins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • STEP 4 While the cake is cooling, make the buttercream. Beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla together until pale and fluffy, beating in 4-6 tbsp hot water to loosen the mixture if necessary.
  • STEP 5 Put one of the cooled sponges on a cake board or stand and spread a little of the buttercream on top using a palette knife. Gently spread over half the salted caramel, if using, then sandwich with another sponge. Repeat the process with a little more buttercream, the remaining salted caramel (if using) and the third sponge. Spread the outside of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream – this doesn’t have to be neat. Chill for 30 mins.
  • STEP 6 Spread a thick, even layer of buttercream over the chilled cake using a palette knife. Divide the remaining buttercream into three bowls and colour each one differently using the gel food colouring. Ours were light pink, purple and dark pink.
  • STEP 7 Put a little gold lustre dust into a bowl, add a drop of water and stir to make a gold paste. Using a small paintbrush, paint the unicorn horn gold using the paste, as well as the inside of the ears, if you like. Carefully place the gold horn in the middle of the iced cake, with the ears on either side.
  • STEP 8 Fit three piping bags with three different nozzles (we used a round nozzle and two different-sized star nozzles) and fill each with a different colour of buttercream. Pipe each colour around the ears and horn and all over the top of the cake, coming down one side and over the edge of the front – this is the unicorn’s mane. Decorate with some sprinkles, if using.
  • STEP 9 Divide the black fondant in two pieces, and roll each into a thin sausage shape. Shape each into an arch, then press onto the front of the cake for eyes. If you like, curve the outer edges of the eyes upwards for eyelashes. Cut into slices and serve. Will keep in the fridge for up to three days.
Categories
1. Birthday Cakes

Vanilla party cake

Ingredients

  • 225g unsalted butter , softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 325g plain flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • 1 ½ tbsp baking powder
  • 250ml buttermilk

For the meringue buttercream

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 240g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod , halved lengthways and seeds scraped out
  • 360g unsalted butter , softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • multi-coloured edible polka dots , to decorate

Method:

  • STEP 1Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and grease 3 x 20cm sandwich tins, lining the bases with baking parchment and greasing the parchment too.
  • STEP 2Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and the egg whites, a little at a time, beating until fully combined before adding more. Mix together the flour, cornflour and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Divide the batter between the tins and level the tops.
  • STEP 3Bake for 25-30 mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack, peeling off the parchment. Cool completely.
  • STEP 4To make the buttercream, put the egg whites and sugar in a big bowl (the bowl of your tabletop mixer, if you have one) with the vanilla seeds and set over a pan of gently simmering water. Lightly whisk until the sugar has fully dissolved – you can test this by dipping two fingers into the bowl and rubbing them together; if you can’t feel any grains of sugar, the mixture is ready. Remove the bowl from the heat and keep whisking until a thick meringue has formed. Continue whisking until the meringue has cooled to room temperature, then slowly add in the butter, 1 tbsp at a time. By the time all the butter has been incorporated, the mixture should have transformed into a silky-smooth buttercream. If it hasn’t, continue to whisk until it does. If it still refuses to thicken, it may be the mixture is still too warm, so chill for 10 mins, then continue whisking. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
  • STEP 5To assemble the cake, place a sponge on a cake board or serving plate and top with a thin layer of buttercream. Repeat with the remaining cake layers and finish by spreading the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake (see below). To get a smooth finish, use the edge of a palette knife, and drag carefully around the sides of the cake, smoothing out the buttercream. To decorate the cake, press the sides of it with the edible polka dot sprinkles creating a full border at the bottom with less and less the further up the cake you go. Best served within 2 days of baking, but the cake will keep for up to 4 days.
Categories
1. Birthday Cakes

Vegan birthday cake

Ingredients:

  • 320ml sunflower oil , plus extra for the tins
  • 450ml soy , almond or coconut milk (the pouring variety, not a can)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 500g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 260g plain soy or coconut yogurt
  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 160g cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the vegan buttercream

  • 200g dairy-free dark chocolate
  • 400g vegan spread , at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 800g icing sugar , sifted
  • colourful sprinkles (make sure they are suitable for vegans)

Method:

  • STEP 1Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Oil three 20cm round cake tins and line the bases and sides with baking parchment (if you don’t have three tins, cook the batter in batches). Whisk the milk and vinegar together in a jug – the milk should curdle slightly. Set aside.
  • STEP 2Whisk the sugar, oil and vanilla extract together in a bowl, then whisk in the yogurt, making sure to break down any sugar lumps. Pour in the soured milk and mix well.
  • STEP 3Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and ½ tsp salt into a separate bowl and stir well to combine. Gradually whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until you have a smooth batter, but be careful not to over-mix.
  • STEP 4Divide the batter evenly between the tins and bake for 25-30 mins, until well risen and springy, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out almost clean. A few sticky crumbs are fine, but the mixture should not be wet.
  • STEP 5Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for 20 mins, then carefully turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. They will be delicate so be gentle (a cake lifter is helpful). The sponges will keep, covered, at room temperature for up to two days.
  • STEP 6For the vegan buttercream, melt the chocolate in the microwave or a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Leave to cool. Beat the spread and vanilla on high speed in a stand mixer for a few minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the icing sugar gradually, beating on slow to start with, then turning up the speed to max until the mixture is light and creamy. Pour in the cooled chocolate and combine thoroughly. Chill the buttercream for at least 30 mins before using.
  • STEP 7To assemble the cake, first use a sharp knife to trim the tops off the sponges to make them level. Put one of the sponges on a serving plate, cake stand or 20cm round cake drum (using a cake drum makes it easier to ice the cake neatly and to move it onto a stand or plate later). Spread over a layer of the buttercream, using a palette knife to get an even, neat finish. Top with the second sponge and spread over another layer of buttercream.
  • STEP 8Top with the last sponge upside-down, so the bottom of the cake becomes the top (this will help to keep the icing neat and relatively crumb-free). Spread the sides of the cake with buttercream. Hold the top sponge steady with a palm if you need to stabilise the cake. Once you have the sides covered as neatly as you can, cover the top with a thin layer of buttercream. Use your palette knife to neaten the top and sides. If you have a side scraper, use it to sweep around the sides and top to sharpen the coating. (This is a crumb coat, trapping any crumbs to give you a neat, firm base.) Put the cake in the fridge to firm up and chill for 1-2 hrs.
  • STEP 9To finish, cover the sides and top of the cake in the same manner, using most of the remaining buttercream. Press the sprinkles up against the bottom of the cake, about a quarter to a third of the way up. You can dress the top of the cake with a circle of sprinkles, or for a fancier finish, pipe little swirls around the top edge of the cake using any remaining buttercream scraped into a piping bag fitted with a large open star nozzle, then finish with more sprinkles.
  • STEP 10Keep the cake in the fridge to stay firm, then remove 1 hr before serving. Will keep, covered, in the fridge, for up to three days.
Categories
1. Birthday Cakes

Happy lion birthday cake

Ingredients

  • 250g pack unsalted butter
  • 50ml whole milk
  • 150g whole natural yogurt
  • ½ tsp vanilla paste or extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250g white caster sugar
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

To fill and cover

  • 200g unsalted butter , very well softened
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
  • 2 tsp whole milk
  • 2 heaped tbsp raspberry jam (or lemon curd)

To decorate the cake

  • 25cm cake board , or cake plate
  • yellow or orange food colouring paste ( we used Sugarflair Egg Yellow)
  • about 350g white sugar paste
  • a few strands of spaghetti , snipped into finger lengths
  • a little icing sugar , sifted, for rolling out
  • 2 liquorice Catherine wheels with blue middles
  • about 2 tsp chocolate sprinkles

Method

  • STEP 1Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Use a little of the butter to grease the sides and bases of two 20cm sandwich tins. Melt the rest of the butter in a small saucepan. Off the heat, add the milk, yogurt and vanilla, followed by the eggs. Beat well with a fork.
  • STEP 2Put the dry ingredients plus ¼ tsp salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine – this aerates and saves sifting. Tip in the wet ingredients and whisk to a smooth, silky batter.
  • STEP 3Don’t hang around at this point. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared tins and put onto the middle shelf in the oven. Bake for 25 mins or until risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Cool for 10 mins in the tins, then carefully invert the cakes and leave to cool upside down on a cooling rack.
  • STEP 4Make the buttercream. Put the butter into a large bowl and sift the icing sugar on top. Add the vanilla and milk and a pinch of salt then beat for a few mins with electric beaters until creamy, pale and spreadable.
  • STEP 5Place one of the cakes onto the board or plate, and use a dab of buttercream underneath the cake to stop it slipping about. Spread with 1/4 of the buttercream and then all of the jam, if using.
  • STEP 6Sandwich the second cake on top. Set aside 1 tsp buttercream to affix the ears later, then mound the rest on top of the cake. Use a palette knife to paddle it evenly over and down the sides. Set aside.
  • STEP 7For the lion’s mane and cheeks, use a little of the colouring paste to colour the sugarpaste yellow or orange, then split the paste in half. Add more colouring paste to one half and knead again to make it a shade darker. Roll two walnut-size balls of the darker paste to make the cheeks. Poke in the spaghetti to make whiskers, then set aside.
  • STEP 8Using a little icing sugar, roll out the rest to about 2 x £1 coin thickness then cut into 12 squares measuring about 4 x 4cm. Re-roll any trimmings. Shape two small blobs into ears.
  • STEP 9Position the squares around the cake, alternating lighter and darker yellow. Let the squares overhang the cake slightly with only the innermost corners meeting. Scatter the chocolate sprinkles into the gaps in-between.
  • STEP 10Unroll a Catherine wheel. Cut two lengths of 20cm. Loop one end of each piece, then position on the cake to make the eyes and sides of the lion’s nose. Poke into the buttercream. Add another strip of liquorice down the centre of the nose and a wiggly line to one side to give it some shadowing, if you like.
  • STEP 11Make the bottom of the nose by snipping ever-decreasing lengths of liquorice and poking them into the buttercream.
  • STEP 12Add two more curls for his mouth and two for eyebrows. Position the round cheeks to the sides. Put the middles of the Catherine wheels towards the bottom of the eyes to make pupils.
  • STEP 13Put the cheeks onto the lion’s face. Fix the ears on top using a small blob of leftover buttercream. Leave the cake to set for an hour before cutting. If the sponges are used fresh or within a day of baking (wrap well once cooled), the finished cake will keep in a cool place (not the fridge) for 3 days.
Categories
1. Birthday Cakes

Cookies & cream party cake

Ingredients:

For the chocolate sponges

  • 300ml vegetable oil , plus extra for greasing
  • 400g plain flour
  • 130g cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 560g light brown soft sugar
  • 400ml buttermilk
  • 200ml strong coffee , or espresso
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

For the icing

  • 250g pack slightly salted butter , softened
  • 600g icing sugar
  • 280g tub full-fat cream cheese
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 Oreo biscuits (about 3/4 of a pack)

For the cookie cake toppers

  • Oreo biscuits , as many as you need for the letters on top (some may break when you insert the skewers, so buy extra)
  • thin wooden skewers
  • 100g white chocolate , finely chopped
  • ready-to-roll fondant icing , coloured (we used a mixture of blue and green food colouring), or an icing writing pen

Method:

  • STEP 1 Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with baking parchment – if your cake tins are quite shallow, line the sides to a depth of at least 5cm. Put 200g flour, 8 tbsp cocoa powder, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 280g light brown soft sugar and 1 tsp salt in a bowl and mix well. If there are any lumps in the sugar, squeeze these through your fingers to break them up.
  • STEP 2 Measure 200ml buttermilk, 100ml coffee, 150ml oil and 2 tsp vanilla in a jug. Add 2 eggs and whisk until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until well combined. Pour the cake mixture evenly into the two tins, and bake for 25-30 mins until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack, peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool.
  • STEP 3 Repeat steps 1 and 2, so that you have 4 sponge cakes in total. These sponges can be made up to three days ahead and will stay moist if wrapped in cling film, or you can wrap well and freeze for up to two months.
  • STEP 4 To make the icing, put the butter in a large bowl and sieve in half the icing sugar. Roughly mash together with a spatula, then whizz with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the cream cheese and sieve in the remaining icing sugar, mash together again, then blend once more with the hand mixer. Put the Oreos in a food processor and whizz to fine crumbs. Add the biscuit crumbs to the icing and mix again until combined.
  • STEP 5 Next, make the cookie cake toppers. You’ll need one Oreo for each letter of the word you’d like to write – someone’s name or, like we have done, ‘WOW!’ Carefully insert a skewer into the creamy filling in the middle of each Oreo – some cookies may break, so save these ones for later. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 20 secs or so, or in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of gently simmering water. Spread a little chocolate over the surface of one side of each cookie. Roll out the fondant icing to the thickness of a 50p coin, and cut out your letters, then stick these to the cookies and set aside to dry. Alternatively, let the chocolate dry, then use an icing pen to write the name or word directly on the surface.
  • STEP 6 To assemble the cake, stick one of your sponges to a cake stand or board with a little of the cream cheese icing. Use roughly half the icing to stack the remaining cakes on top, spreading a generous amount between each layer. Pile the remaining icing on top of the assembled cake, and use a palette knife to ease it over the edges, covering the entire surface of the cake. Tidy the plate with a piece of kitchen paper.
  • STEP 7 If you have any leftover Oreos, break them into pieces and push these around the base of the cake. Insert the dried cookie cake toppers into the top of the cake and serve. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days, but bring back to room temperature for an hour or so before eating.
Categories
1. Birthday Cakes

Gravity-defying sweetie cake

Ingredients:

For the chocolate sponges

  • 150ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g plain flour
  • 8 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 280g light brown soft sugar
  • 200ml buttermilk
  • 100ml strong coffee or espresso
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

To decorate

  • 2½ x 114g packs milk chocolate fingers
  • 8 tubes of Smarties, or other sweets

For the chocolate fudge icing

  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces, plus 50g/2oz for decorating
  • 200g slightly salted butter, softened
  • 400g icing sugar, seived
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp milk

You’ll also need

  • 1 bendy straw
  • 2 wooden skewers
  • 1 paper bag or sweet packet (see tip)
  • sticky tape

Method:

  • STEP 1 Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with baking parchment – if your cake tins are quite shallow, line the sides to a depth of at least 5cm. Put the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and 1 tsp salt in a bowl and mix well. If there are any lumps in the sugar, squeeze these through your fingers to break them up.
  • STEP 2 Measure the buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a jug. Add the egg and whisk until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until well combined. Pour the cake mixture evenly into the two tins, and bake for 25-30 mins until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack, peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool. These sponges can be made up to three days ahead and will stay moist if wrapped in cling film, or you can wrap well and freeze for up to two months.
  • STEP 3 To make the chocolate fudge icing, put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, suspended over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir every now and then until melted. (Alternatively, melt in the microwave, stirring the chocolate every 20 secs so it doesn’t burn.) Remove the bowl from the heat and leave to cool a little. Meanwhile, put the butter and icing sugar in another large bowl and mash with a spatula to combine (this will prevent you covering the work surface in icing sugar), then whisk with a hand mixer until smooth. Sift in the cocoa and pour in the melted chocolate and milk, then mix again until smooth.
  • STEP 4 Use roughly half the icing to sandwich the cakes together on a cake stand or board. Use a palette knife to cover the entire cake with the remaining icing – don’t worry about being too neat. Use the chocolate fingers to cover the sides of the cakes – do this straight after icing as the icing will set after a while, and the chocolate fingers won’t stick.
  • STEP 5 Melt the remaining 50g chocolate in the microwave or in a small bowl suspended over a pan of gently simmering water. Leave to cool until the chocolate is a spreadable consistency. You can speed this up by putting it in the fridge – just stir it every 5 mins or so to prevent the chocolate from setting.
  • STEP 6 Push a skewer into the centre of the cake and slip the straw over the top – this will give it more stability. Push 1-2cm of the straw into the cake. Use a cutlery knife to spread a blob of chocolate onto a Smartie and, starting at the base, stick the Smarties to the straw. You will have to do this in stages to allow the chocolate to set a little before adding another layer of Smarties. Work your way up the straw until it’s completely covered. If the chocolate in your bowl becomes too firm, simply heat again until it is at the correct consistency. Stop when you reach the bend in the straw.
  • STEP 7 Stick the remaining skewer into the top of the straw so that it pokes out at an angle. Place the paper bag on top – you may have to use a little sticky tape to hold it in place. If any of the straw is exposed, cover it with more Smarties.
  • STEP 8 Tip the remaining Smarties on top of the cake to flood the surface. Will keep well stored in an airtight tin for 2 days.
Categories
1. Birthday Cakes

Lemon & elderflower celebration cake

Ingredients

  • oil, for greasing
  • 6 medium eggs
  • 100g natural yoghurt
  • 50ml milk
  • 450g butter, softened
  • 450g golden caster sugar
  • 450g self-raising flour
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus juice
  • 3 tbsp elderflower cordial

For the icing

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 300g full fat cream cheese
  • 700g icing sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • fresh flowers to decorate

Method:

  • STEP 1Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease and line the base and sides of 3 x 20cm cake tins with baking parchment. In a jug, whisk the eggs, yogurt and milk. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, using an electric hand whisk. When you have a light and fluffy mixture, add the flour, the liquid in the jug and the lemon zest. Mix again until smooth. Divide the cake mixture between the tins, level the surfaces and bake for 40 mins.
  • STEP 2Mix the lemon juice and elderflower cordial. When the cakes are cooked, poke all over the surface with a cocktail stick then spoon the lemon and elderflower syrup over the cakes. Leave to cool in the tins. Once cool, you can wrap in cling film and keep for 3 days before icing.
  • STEP 3To make the icing, beat the butter until smooth with an electric hand whisk. Add half the icing sugar, use a spatula to mash the mixture together (this will help to prevent an icing sugar cloud) then whisk again. Add the remaining icing sugar, cream cheese and lemon zest, mash again, then whisk again until smooth.
  • STEP 4Stack the cakes on a cake stand with plenty of icing between each layer. Pile most of the remaining icing on top, then use a palette knife to spread it across the top and down the sides, covering the cake in swirls (don’t worry about it looking too perfect). Add the final bit of icing to the top and use it to cover any patches where the cake is poking through. Decorate with fresh flowers.
Categories
1. Birthday Cakes

Chocolate & raspberry birthday layer cake

Ingredients

  • 225ml sunflower oil , plus extra for the tins
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 225ml milk
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 4 tbsp cocoa
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the raspberry layer

  • 150g raspberry jam
  • 100g frozen raspberries , defrosted
  • 300ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar

Method:

  • STEP 1 Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Oil and line two round 20cm springform cake tins with baking parchment. Whisk the oil, sugar, eggs and milk in a bowl until smooth. Sieve the flour, cocoa and bicarb into another large bowl, then gradually mix in the wet ingredients. 
  • STEP 2 Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 35-40 mins until the cakes are risen and spring back when pressed. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • STEP 3 For the raspberry layer, stir the jam and the defrosted raspberries together. Once the cakes are cool, whip the cream with the sugar to soft peaks, then gently fold half the raspberry mixture through the cream to create a ripple effect. 
  • STEP 4 Spoon most of the reserved raspberry mixture over one of the cakes, then dollop on half of the cream. Smooth over with a palette knife, then place the other sponge on top. Swirl over the remaining cream and swirl the last of the raspberry mixture through it. Will keep in the fridge for two days.
Categories
1. Birthday Cakes

Rainbow zebra cake

Ingredients

  • 375g salted butter , softened, plus extra for the tin
  • 375g golden caster sugar
  • 6 large eggs , at room temperature
  • 375g self-raising flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 150ml milk
  • blue and pink food colouring (see tip, below)
  • sprinkles , to decorate

For the icing

  • 250g salted butter , softened
  • 400g icing sugar , sifted
  • vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
  • 100g full-fat cream cheese

Method:

  • STEP 1 Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter and line three 20cm loose-bottomed sandwich cake tins with baking parchment.
  • STEP 2 To make the sponge, beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or using an electric whisk for 5-8 mins or until light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour, baking powder and milk to loosen. Divide the mixture between three mixing bowls, weighing for accuracy if you like. Colour one of the batters blue and another pink, starting with a little colouring, then adding more for a deeper finish. Leave one of the bowls of batter uncoloured.
  • STEP 3 Get the three cake tins and bowls of batter ready in front of you. Spoon a heaped tablespoon of blue batter into the centre of the first tin, then pink in the second, and plain in the third. Working quickly so that it doesn’t spread too much, add another dollop of a different coloured batter on top of each one. Don’t wait for the batter to settle or spread, just keep alternating the colours until you run out. The weight of each layer will cause the batter to spread as you go, so very gently tap and shake the cake tins to even out the mixture, then bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 mins or until firm to the touch. Turn out top-side down onto wire racks straightaway, then leave to cool completely.
  • STEP 4 For the icing, put the butter, icing sugar and vanilla seeds into a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or put in a bowl and use an electric whisk. Beat for 5 mins or until fluffy and aerated. Add the cream cheese and beat briefly until just combined.
  • STEP 5 Place one of the cakes on a cake stand or serving plate and spread 2 tbsp of the buttercream on top, then repeat with the other sponges. Spread a smooth layer of the icing over the top and sides of the cake, using a large palette knife, leaving some slightly less iced spots for a ‘naked’ finish. Top with sprinkles and candles, if you like. Will keep in an airtight tin for three days.