Well, I imagine that anyone reading can probably figure out how to assemble all the elements of the cake in my last post, but I’ll spell it out just in case anyone is thinking of making something similar and would like a little guidance. Interestingly, for a cake that I love the look of so much, it was one of the easiest to put together – maybe just because I’d thought it over so many times that it seemed like I’d already made it at least once. It took a lot of finalising in my head, did this cake. I toyed with the idea of using cardamom in the icing instead of (or possibly as well as) coconut, but in the end I didn’t want to overwhelm the other flavours. I also wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the top of the cake, but then once I’d baked it with brown sugar it looked good just as it was, though I did then pipe on the writing. That was probably the part of the cake I was least happy with – by the time it came to eating the cake, the writing had gone quite fuzzy where it sank into the sponge. I think a thin glaze would have helped with this, like primer for paint; it’s something to remember for another time. Or maybe the writing icing is just a little too thin, and a thicker icing would hold its shape better – hard to say. It was still legible, but a little disappointing. Thankfully, I captured the cake in all its glory just after icing the words on top.
So, imagine that you have followed all the previous instructions, and you now have one sponge cake, one bowl of icing and one bowl of mixed ground pistachios and toasted coconut. An excellent combination of things to have at any time. What to do first is split the sponge cake in half to make a sandwich. I have an excellent cake cutting wire for this, which I got at a bargain TK Maxx price and would recommend, especially if you’re like me and find cutting a cake in a straight line to be challenging. Once the cake is split, have a look to see which surface is the neatest, and that can be the top of the cake – it’s usually the bottom half that ends up being on top, with the surface that was touching the bottom of the cake pan facing out, as it’s flattest. In this case, I used the bottom half but left the cut side up, as the colour was nicer. As I mentioned previously, my cake sank in the middle, so I put the very top surface – the one with the sunken bit – in the middle of the sandwich, to disguise it. Then I covered it in icing to complete the subterfuge, mwa ha ha. This did mean that the very middle of the cake had more icing than the rest, though with tasty icing like that it wasn’t such a big problem. In the picture to the left, you can see a line in the middle of the cake where the sunken-in part stopped – it really was a heck of a cave in. That did cause minor problems when it came to the icing writing, too, as the ‘h’ in birthday kind of tumbled into it like a man with a lawnmower who’s not paying attention to where the pond is (sorry dad, I had to). I think I pretty much got away with it until now, though. I lifted the half that was now going to be the upper layer and sandwiched it onto the bottom layer – I did this by hand, as I’d made the cake two days ahead and it was fairly robust, as cakes go. If the cake had been fresh out of the oven I would have been much more careful, as they’re a lot crumblier when they’re new. This cake benefitted from a couple of days for the flavour to mature, I think, and for the texture to settle. It was still moist when we ate it, but the resting meant that it sliced well without crumbling.
So, now you have a sandwich. The next thing to do is to spread a layer of icing round the edges of the cake. This was tricky with the thick, dry texture of the icing, but I managed it with a bit of persuasion, by which I mean brute force and ignorance. Despite what I’ve just said about the cake not being too crumbly, there were a lot of crumb intruders into the icing at this stage, from the freshly-cut edges. I could probably have brushed these off but it wasn’t important that the icing stayed pristine, as I was just going to cover it up anyway, so I carried on, heedless of the mass crumb suffocation that I was wreaking. I used a plastic spatula to do this, but what might have made it easier is a metal spoon, dipped occasionally in just-boiled water to help smooth over the icing. You know what they say about hindsight, though: it’s what your own brain uses to make you worry about things that have already happened and can’t be changed. Great, thanks “brain”. If that is your real name. If you’re going to make this kind of cake, go ahead and use a metal spoon, or even add a bit more cream cheese or a tiny bit of milk to the icing to make it easier to spread. This is an option particularly if you have time for it to set, which I did not. I made sure that the icing was an even depth all the way round, and that the ring of icing that you could see when looking straight down on it was even, as that part wasn’t going to be covered up.
Once the icing was on, I just had to decorate the cake and then add the writing to the top. I kind of hummed and hawed about the best way to get the decoration round the sides, and ultimately decided that I’d leave it on the cutting board that it was already sitting on, but then clear a big space all round and sit the board on the base of my lazy susan, so that I could turn the cake round rather than lying flat on the work top and knocking things over by accident, or similar. I then just took handfuls of the decoration and pressed them into the icing firmly, and worked my way round. It was moderately messy, but not tricksy, especially with the swivel base. That lazy susan’s been sitting on top of my cupboard since I moved into the flat eighteen months ago, I can’t believe I never though of using it this way before, it definitely made things easier. Having pressed in as much decoration as the icing would hold, I made sure that the whole cake looked pretty even overall, paying particular attention to the top. Then I used a writing icing tube for the lettering, and there we have it! One cake, no waiting. Unless you’ve been waiting for this post so you could make the cake, in which case, sorry about that.