I'm alive! Sort of, I'm trapped in the belly of the beast we call Work. But I have been baking on the weekend, baking lots of cakes because there have been lots of birthdays. This cake might seem like a random mish-mash of different ideas, because it is! But each idea was good on its own, and I was trying to tick a lot of boxes for this cake. So while it might not be a cohesive cake as a whole, I still wanted to show you some of the ideas separately. Yesterday was A's not so little anymore sister's birthday, which is why this post wasn't up on Monday. I was originally just going to do a cake with pink and purple layers, because I know those are her favourite colours, but then she also mentioned how much she likes royal icing and I jumped at the chance to try making these 3D royal icing butterflies, something I've seen around online and have always wanted to attempt. And of course I had to put rainbow sprinkles on them, because rainbow sprinkles make everyone happy.
I ended up making a tri-colour checkerboard cake, the same as my Green & Gold checkerboard cake recipe but instead of using two colours over four layers, I did three colours over three layers. I'm pleased with how the colours turned out on the inside of the cake, it's not quite as neat as my first checkerboard cake attempt but the effect is still pretty awesome. (I may have cut a slice out of the cake to make sure the checkerboard innards looked okay before putting the slice back and re-icing it...I had to see what it looked like!) Things got messy when I was trying to make a nice icing to cover the cake; A's sister mentioned that she likes Crunchie bars so I decided to make a honeycomb crunch icing. A's Mum can't eat chocolate, so I used plain honeycomb instead of Crunchies. But the icing was impossible to smooth out neatly because of the little pieces of honeycomb throughout it and I eventually got frustrated and started covering the outside of the cake with a layer of crushed honeycomb, so it was still messy but 'on-purpose messy'. Then I remembered the royal icing butterflies and realised the two types of decorations didn't match very well. But the butterflies were so cute it was a waste not to use them! Hence the mish-mash of different ideas. But the important thing was the birthday girl loved her cake, she said it was pretty much exactly what she asked for, which is all I wanted.
The honeycomb crunch icing is REALLY ridiculously delicious, it tastes just like the inside of a Crunchie, with little nubbins of honeycomb throughout the icing. I think it would taste great with a dark chocolate cake base, like the one from my mint chocolate chip cake but it went well with the regular vanilla cake too. The tri-colour checkboard cake idea is really fun and bright, and would work great for those of you in the US who would like to do a red, white and blue cake soon. And the royal icing butterflies are super cute and easy to make (even for someone who is pretty clumsy with a piping bag like me) and make a lovely, dainty cake topper.
Honeycomb Crunch Cake
(makes one 18cm round cake, serves about 10-12)
For the checkerboard cake:
Follow measurements & instructions for this checkerboard cake, but split batter into three equal portions (instead of two), adding pink gel colouring to one portion, purple to another and leaving the last one plain. Bake each cake for about 20-25 minutes. Trim & cut the circles out of the cake as described then swap the colours around from each layer so each one has a pink, purple and white portion. Can also be done with red, white and blue cake layers! Sandwich cake layers together carefully with the white chocolate ganache recipe described (I used milky bars instead of real white chocolate for A's mum). Chill cake until ganache is set, at least half an hour.
For the honeycomb crunch icing:
250g unsalted butter
500g icing sugar (about 4 cups), sifted
4-5 tbsp golden syrup or honey, adjust to taste/desired texture
1-2 cups crushed honeycomb candy pieces (use Crunchie bars, or make your own honeycomb here)
Optional: extra crushed honeycomb pieces to decorate
Remove the butter from the fridge 30 mins before start. Beat butter until light and fluffy with an electric mixer on high speed. Reduce speed to low and gradually add icing sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until well-combined and fluffy. Gradually add golden syrup one tbsp at a time, beating until smooth, until you are happy with the flavour and texture. Gradually mix in crushed honeycomb pieces, make sure the pieces are very small or it will make the icing hard to spread. Spread over the top of your prepared cake. Decorate with extra Crunchie/honeycomb pieces if you wish. Recommended chocolate cake recipe to go with this icing here
Royal Icing Butterflies
1 large egg white (can be replaced with 2.5 tbsp meringue powder + 5 tbsp water)
2 cups sifted icing sugar
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Optional: sprinkles to decorate or colouring for the icing
Place egg white in a medium mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer to form soft peaks. Add icing sugar and lemon juice and stir with a spatula to combine. If icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it is too thin, add more sugar. If you can be bothered, you can split the icing into two different types - a thicker one for piping outlines and a runnier one for flooding. Place icing in a piping bag or a ziploc bag and cut a tiny hole from the tip. I printed a simple butterfly shape outline that I found online, and cut small squares of baking paper big enough to cover the shape. Fold the squares in half and line up the fold of the paper with the centre of the butterfly shape. Pipe an outline of the butterfly wings (not the body) using the thicker icing, and fill the inside of the outline using the thinner flooding icing (see photo above). Decorate with sprinkles if you wish. Leave to dry for at least an hour. Setup a 'V' shaped piece of card to place your butterflies on (I found the corners of my cling film/foil/baking paper boxes to be very useful for this), and place the fold in the middle of each square in this stand, so the piped wings sit up at an angle. Pipe a line of royal icing along the crease in the centre to join the two wings together and leave to dry completely overnight. (My instructions might not make much sense, so here's a link to a tutorial that explains it clearly) Carefully peel away the baking paper and use the butterflies for decorating.