I genuinely love baking, and enjoy few things more than the look on people’s faces when I get it right. But usually when I provide baked goods it’s on a whim, so I’ve exceeded people’s expectations just by showing up with a loaded plate in my hands. It all changes when I’m specifically asked to bake for someone, particularly for a birthday, and I start feeling the pressure… I mean, heavens to Betsy, who wants a rubbish birthday cake?
I was flattered to be asked to bake a birthday cake for my discerning foodie friend, Simon. Now, Simon is an extraordinary chef with incredible skills, an admirable palate and an adventurous attitude to food, and he’s also a terribly clever colourist who makes the programmes on your television look blinkin’ awesome. (I have some very talented friends.) I set out to make a delicious, meticulously baked cake that Simon, his gorgeous wife Jessie and three-year-old daughter Livia would all enjoy: a lemon cake, with a little classy something as a gentle nod to Simon’s love of colour.
I baked a gorgeously light three-layer lemon sponge and made some fluffy tangy lemon buttercream (combined with the paddle fitting, then fluffed with the whisk fitting). I frosted it very plainly, then moved on to the coloured bit… In the absence of disposable piping bags, I used a freezer bag, which I loaded with a star-shaped piping nozzle and rested inside a glass while I painted strips of colour down the inside, then dropped in a wodge of lemon buttercream:
I was marginally disappointed to discover that buttercream behaves differently from royal icing when it’s piped, so it didn’t quite come out the way I had expected but it had its charms:
The next job was the writing on the top. I wasn’t too chuffed with my last writing efforts so I was determined to make a better job of it this time. I made up some icing with lemon juice and a little pale yellow colouring, and poured it into a freezer bag with a small round nozzle. One of my failings is spacing my writing evenly when I just go for it freehand, so it’s necessary for me to trace out my plans with a skewer before I start piping:
Text just in… Taste-wise, it was “a triumph!”. Coming from Simon, this is praise indeed.