So Epicute has a lot to answer for. Looking through all the beautiful food that’s stored within its pages is a bittersweet experience for me, like dark chocolate only worse. I have to keep reminding myself that a lot of these things are not made by people in tiny kitchens with slightly dodgy electric ovens, as I am, but by people who have access to professional equipment and real cameras instead of a mobile phone. Still, though, it saddens me that my creations are never as beautiful as those I can see on the internet, and I’m sure that some people are just really talented and can churn out these elegant creations from the comfort of their own home. I suppose it’s not wise to compare anything on the internet to real life, you’d certainly have a peculiar world view if you did. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with the youth of today.
One Epicute cake in particular has caught my imagination. From the outside, it’s just a normal, everyday, run of the mill cake. The kind of cake you might find riding the cake bus, working in a cake office – just getting on with things, like the rest of us, to pay the cake bills and have some cake fun at the weekend. When you cut it open, however, its white icing gives way to seven layers, each a colour of the rainbow and layered with further white icing for contrast. It’s beautiful, and perfect. It is, in fact, Supercake. I think covering yourself in white icing is a much better disguise than a pair of non-prescription glasses any day of the week. So, I have been thinking and thinking about rainbow cake, and how I’d like to do something similar, and how best to go about doing it, and how to make it easier… You get the idea. So tonight I had my first go at it, without having looked at the recipe, which you can find if you follow the Supercake link above. Oh, and this girl made the cake in her home kitchen. Crushing. I wanted to know what would happen if I just layered up the different colours of cake mix and then baked them all together. I didn’t *think* it would work, but part of my brain insisted that it might, so I should try it. Also, it is a lot less time consuming a plan than making seven individual cakes (although I have some ideas about that, too, which I’ll get to later).
I didn’t want to waste a lot of time, energy or ingredients on an idea I wasn’t convinced would work, so I decided to make a ramekin sized cake as a tester. I thought that a white chocolate sponge would be a good one to make as it would be quite robust and sweet, but pale enough to take colour well. So I promptly made up a recipe for one, which goes like this:
- 2oz plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2oz margarine
- 2 oz white chocolate
- 1 egg
Put the flour and baking powder in a bowl and mix. Add the egg, and mix again. Melt the chocolate and margarine in the microwave, then add to the flour/egg mix. One cake mix, ready to lock and/or load. I then greased and floured a ramekin and looked out a small mixing bowl, and my food colourings. I made the red first by adding red dye to a seventh of the cake mix – straightforward enough, although judging a seventh of something is pretty tricky especially when you’re dealing with small amounts like this. Once I’d mixed it through, I put this into the bottom of the ramekin. I then added another seventh of cake mix to the bowl with a few drops of yellow dye, without cleaning the bowl – I thought this was the best way to go, using the remains of the colour before to mix each new one. That’s how rainbows work, sort of thing. In my brain it is, anyway. I combined the cake mix and colours, then layered on, making sure to get the mix right to the edge. I cleared most of the orange out of the bowl before adding more cake mix to make the yellow layer – didn’t want it to be too dark. I carried on thuswise until I’d done all seven colours. The blue was a bit too green, and the violet was a bit brown, but since it was a test run I wasn’t being too particular. It looked remarkably unremarkable when I had finished, but I took a picture anyway. Then I deleted the picture by accident, leaving a broken link on my blog. It’s gone now.
One cool thing about this stage of events was that the mixing bowl bore evidence of each different stage. I love rainbow colours, although I try to keep that on the down low as it ruins my pirate ninja goth image. You know, that famous image that I definitely have. Like oil in a puddle – it’s not nice to get on your hands, but it’s pretty to look at. In fact, I once did a painting of a bubble with a tiny rainbow reflection… I wonder where that is. I’ll see if I can find it and fire a picture of it up here, I know everyone is desperate to look at my ‘art’. Maybe I’ll write a poem, too, give you all the full experience that your lives have been so achingly empty without. Alternatively, I’ll just get on with my blog post for today. That’s probably the better option.
Once I’d packed the ramekin full of cake mix, I popped it in the oven, which was heated to 180C, and baked for a total of 26 minutes. The number of the minutes was 26 – it was not 27, neither was it 25. 24 would be right out. No, in truth, a few minutes less would probably have been just fine, I wanted to make sure it was baked through though. I was periodically checking the cake, so I could see that it had erupted somewhat and left what I can only describe as a rainbow-coloured dropping on the oven tray below it. I did not take a picture of this. I did take a picture of the cake itself once I took it out of the oven, which I really liked. It was like a volcano, only more delicious, and it’s not every day you can say that. Ther was a wee hint of green round the edges, just peeking out and hinting at the insides. You’ll have to use your imaginations here, because I also deleted this photo.
I could tell, then, that I did not have a stripey cake, which is the ultimate goal. However, I was excited to see what I did have. I couldn’t wait for the cake to cool, which would have been helpful in making it firmer and easier to trim the excess from, but I was too impatient. Plus, it was only a test run, after all, and if I had to eat copious amounts of rainbow cake crumbs I wouldn’t complain too much (to myself…). I ran a knife round the edge of the ramekin and turned the cake out – it only left a tiny corner behind it, so the ever present fear that whatever cake I am making will today refuse to leave its comfortable baking tin home was, on this occasion, groundless. I turned it on its head and trimmed off much of the deceptively chocolatey-looking top. The sides were all red, where the base layer of cake mix had risen up the sides, or where the red food colour had mixed with other colours as it baked – I’m not sure which. It looked OK, not really what I was hoping for but certainly not a fail. Then I cut it open.
I loved what I saw.
It was a tie-dye cake. A hippy cake. A 1960s, psychedelic, let’s eat some cake kind of cake. It’s really difficult to get the colours across but take my word for it, it is definitely a cake to which the word ‘groovy’ could be applied. It scrubbed up quite well from looking like the Cracks of Doom when it came out of the oven. It’s so interesting to see how the colours have moved with the heat of baking, and I’m sure I can utilise this to make some interesting and classy marble cakes. Here’s a close up to show off the colours further:
For now, I’m revelling in the happy accident, and have made some notes for white chocolate rainbow cake, mark II:
- the texture of the cake is good, but it is very sweet. Since I intend to ice it with buttercream when I have the cake right, I think the recipe needs less sugar, and also a pinch of salt. Perhaps no sugar at all and vanilla instead, but how would this affect the consistency?
- the colours changed on baking, especially the layer at the top of the ramekin. The violet colour will have to be lighter but more definitely purple next time, as it was just brown this time. Perhaps cleaning the bowl out before making this one colour is a good plan.
- could I make rainbow cupcakes by making one each in the separate rainbow colours, then slicing them and rebuilding them? Variation in size from bottom to top of the cupcakes would cause a problem here – will think about different baking implements, like different sized and shaped food tins.
- for a big cake, the layers definitely have to be separately baked. This is a pain as none of my cake tins really match in size.
- a white chocolate buttercream wold probably be too much on top of a white chocolate cake, even with the reduction in sugar. Is there another way to make the cake robust without making it stodgy?
That’s really all by way of ponderings for now, and I’ll be taking another stab at a rainbow cake at some point. First, though, Alice in Wonderland cakes – I’m going to see the film on Monday and really want to make some suitable treats to celebrate. I’m off work from Thursday, so plenty of time to work up to it. Also on Thursday, a birthday girls night, so there may or may not be more cake to report back on…