Well, there’s a title that doesn’t leave any room for surprises, eh?
This was a cake for my buddy’s 30th birthday. We had a sit down and a chat about what she’d like, and it soon emerged that there was a martini glass theme going on with the decorations. She asked if I could make the cake fit in, and out came the slide rule and scientific calculator.
I exaggerate a little, but I did start to do some sketches, and some maths (“what’s the square root of six?”), to see what size it would have to be to feed a party of 50. Turns out, a martini glass shaped cake to feed 50 would all be a bit Land of the Giants, so we had a re-think.
There was talk of cupcakes to bulk out the servings, but we soon landed on the final idea, which I like much better. The silver underneath the martini glass up there? It’s a cake, too.
Look at that! I guess there was a little surprise there, after all.
This way, we had enough cake to feed everyone (with some left over, as it traditional), but we could also have the cool shape without hiring a crane to transport it to the party. Plus, I don’t think the pub would have been OK with having a wall taken down to get it in.
The cake is a simple vanilla sponge, filled with buttercream and jam, with a fondant icing covering. Yes, the fondant is really thick. I’m still learning how best to apply fondant, and I find that my main mistake is always to roll it too thin. I’ve swung the other way a bit – I’m looking for a happy medium. However, the cake looked lovely and smooth, which I was really chuffed with.
The silver colour is a lustre spray,and not only did it coat the cake nicely, it has also coated everything in my house. I’m not really joking. Things that were on the other side of the room from the cake are glittering. I’m still finding bits of glitter on my face. At this point I suppose I might be imagining the glitter… or perhaps some of it got on my optic nerve? I wouldn’t be entirely surprised. Be ready, if you’re ever using this product, for the fallout. All that moaning aside, it adds alight sugary flavour to your icing, and looks super cool. Which is the main consideration, of course.
Truth: I baked the massive rectangular cake in my grill pan. A stroke of cleverness! It was well-scrubbed and triple lined with tinfoil, first, and then it made a very serviceable gigantic cake tin. The final cake, after some trimming, was a little over 10″ x 12″. It doesn’t sound that much, written down, but it makes for a heavy cake, I can tell you. The glass shape was made from a 7″ square cake, cut diagonally in half and then layered. The stem was trimmed from the body of the rectangular cake, which had the added effect of straightening out the edges on that cake. Two birds, one stone, my friends.
I had fun working with this cake (with the exception of the last half hour or so of working on the fondant, by which time I was 110% done with the cake’s nonsense and just wanted to have a nice quiet sit down. That’s always what happens), and it came together fairly quickly – one night to bake all the sponge, layer up, and give a thin coat of buttercream. Then a second night to cover it all in fondant, smooth it out, and add the detail round the rim of the glass, and the wee olive on a stick. These are nights after work, mind – it probably could have been done in one day, though that day might have been a long one.
Many of the ingredients for this cake were provided by Baking Mad, who generously sent me a hamper to work with. It included Allinson’s self raising flour, which turns out to be beautifully finely milled. I’m not much of a flour sifter – I feel like life is too short to sift flour or make a roux – but generally still have good results with my sponges. uch as it pains me to admit it, I did notice a difference with this flour. The end result was a really light, springy sponge, and it mixed in to the batter very smoothly.
I also used the Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract. I clearly need to replace the vanilla pod in my homemade vanilla essence. The powerful smell of the N-M extract reminded me what vanilla should really taste like, and if it was good in the sponge (it was), it really sang in the buttercream.
The last thing I used from the hamper was Billington sugar. The kind I used for the cake was the unrefined golden caster sugar – this is the kind of sugar I prefer for my baking. I love the colour and I think it has a less toothachingly sweet flavour than refined sugar.
Baking Mad also have a really clear, step by step tutorial up on their site, which might be good for you if other Christmas cake recipes give you the Fear and seem daunting (eg Step One: start making your cake in July. If you forget, your cake and, indeed, all of Christmas is doomed). Have a look – there are also tips on how long you can store the finished cake (but not, really not, in a sealed plastic container. They warn against this three times. They’re serious).