I live in a great building with very friendly neighbours and our direct neighbour Bastian had his birthday this week. He throws a good party and had invited everybody he knows over to celebrate him turning “old”, without wanting to specify his exact age.
As a gift, one of my other neighbours had the idea to decorate a cake for him and as I’m never one to turn down an opportunity to create some deliciousness, we made a birthday cake. As you can see, it turned out really neat and it’s not difficult to make. It is, however, time consuming and you create a huge mess all over your kitchen. But if you do it together with a friend, it’s a Saturday afternoon well spent.
I’d never made a spongecake before, so I used a basic recipe that I found on a Dutch baking website De Leukste Taartenshop.
Ingredients for the cake (24cm diameter or 20x20cm square cake):
- 5 whole eggs
- 150 g. granulated sugar
- 125 g. flour
- 25 gr. corn starch
- 8 g. vanilla sugar
Ingredients for the decorations:
- 100 g. butter
- 100 g. icing sugar
- 8 g. vanilla sugar
- 100g. strawberry jam
- 100g. fresh raspberries
- 300 g. fondant to cover the cake + extra for decorations
Instructions for the cake:
If you keep your eggs in the fridge, carefully place them in warm (not too warm!) water to get them to room temperature. I’ve been assured by several people that this is very important, and as the sponge turned out great, I’m passing on the the advice to you.
Break the eggs into a bowl and add the granulated sugar and vanilla sugar. Whisk them. Whisk them for a long, long time. It took about 10 minutes in my KitchenAid to get the texture as white and fluffy as it should. This time white and airy is good, because you’re going to bake it and not make it into custard (click here for my custard fail).
Combine the corn starch, salt and flour together in a bowl and stir. Get a spoon, sieve and spatula and fold the flour mixture into the eggs through the sieve. It really surprised me how many little lumps there were in the flour and corn starch.
Line a baking tin with parchment paper and butter the sides really well. Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake at 175°C for 45 minutes. Let the sponge cool down before decorating.
Instructions for the decorations:
Use a big knife or a cake saw to saw the cake into two equal pieces. Decorate with jam and fruit. Put the top back onto the bottom.
Use a rolling pin to make a big circular sheet of fondant. Keep water and liquids far away, because water makes fondant really sticky.
Use a handmixer to mix the icing sugar, vanilla sugar and butter together into a buttercream. Cut the edges of the top of the cake, to make the corners round. Cover the cake in a thin layer of butter cream.
Place the sheet of fondant over the cake, press down on the edges and smooth out any creases in the fondant. Place the cake on a cake plate.
Use your imagination to decorate the cake any way you like. We used letter-cut outs and stars. Use a little bit of water to make the fondant sticky and stick all the shapes onto the cake. We tried some flowers too, but that didn’t look manly enough for our neighbour. Then it is time to clean up. Man…you create a lot of dirty dishes with this kind of cake. I’ve never been so glad I have a dishwasher.
What I learned:
- I’m not a big fan of huge amounts of buttercream, but I know that not everybody on the internet agrees with me. We used just enough buttercream to make the fondant stick to the cake, so that nobody would ever get a whole bite of just buttercream. If you love butter cream you can of course add more. The ratio to make it, is basically just 1:1 butter and icing sugar
- You can fill it with anything you darn well please. Chocolate mousse is also delicious, but we thought a fruit filling would be better for a summer night
- Raspberries give a wonderful flavour that is absorbed by the cake.
- The cake was really airy, which I really liked, but some people thought that perhaps it was too light. This may be solved by whisking the eggs slightly less long.
- It is surprisingly easy to make a cake look cool by just covering it in fondant. We’d both never done it before from scratch and both found that fondant was really easy to work with. We had kindergarten flashbacks with play-dough.
- People love cake. We entered with the cake and I think it took about 15 minutes to be completely devoured. And it was a great party with some interesting visitors, but that’s a story for another time.