Happy Valentines Day! We have agreed not to do presents this year (it is going to be a costly enough 2013 as it is, watch this space…) but of course I couldn’t shy away from the valentines cake tradition! Rob would be broken-hearted if there wasn’t a red velvet surprise waiting for him. Last years was an epic 3 layer chocolate-fondant-covered Love Cake, and two years ago a gigantic heart-shaped red velvet cake.
This year I decided to go somewhat on-trend, and something I’ve wanted to try for a while, ombre. For those not in the know this is basically just a layered cake, with colours graduated throughout. Generally a light coloured layer at the top, with colour building layer-by-layer to a deep hue on the bottom layer. Simple.
Although there are some great red velvet recipes out there, with their buttermilk, vinegar etc, I chose to stick with a simple vanilla sponge, that I know well, so I could easily add the ombre effects.
As I didn’t want a huge cake on my hands (Rob may disagree!), I used 1.5x the mixture for a normal victoria sponge. I.e.: 150g butter, 150g sugar, 3 eggs, 150g SR flour and a splash of vanilla essence.
I mixed the basic sponge up in one big bowl, then divided into 4 smaller ones to start the colouring:
First up, cocoa. Leaving the first bowl plain, I added 1/2 teaspoon to the second bowl, a full teaspoon to the third, and a well-heaped teaspoon (probably about 1 1/2 teaspoons) to the last.
And then, the red food colouring. I use Home2Bake, which I get from Asda, the little pot lasts for ages (even with the amount of baking I do!) and always gives a good strong colour.
Again I added nothing to the first bowl, the second had just a little dab (using a cocktail stick), the third a good swirl, and the fourth as much as the cocktail stick could pick up in one splodge!
I baked the cakes in normal round victoria sponge tins (I think mine were 7 inches). As they were a little thinner than a normal sponge they took around 9 – 10 minutes in my fan oven, at 180 degrees. As I then had to take a break to make dinner, I had to hide the cakes away from Rob, so left them to cool dotted around my crockery cupboard!
To fill and top I used a rich cream cheese icing. I tried to follow the pink whisk‘s recipe, but found it really very runny. In the end I used the 70g butter, 250g tub of cream cheese, and 700-800g icing sugar. This was far too much icing and I’d definitely halve it if making again!
And the finished stack:
Next step was to cover the entire outside of the cake in the frosting, so that the layers would only be revealed once a slice was cut. This was more tricky than it sounds! The cream cheese frosting doesn’t hold well in place (it needs to be kept cold, difficult while working with it), and the cake went a bit leaning-tower, but only on one side…
Nevertheless I was glad it was all covered, and hurriedly stuck it in the fridge to cool and set before the cream cheese slid any further. I checked back the next day and it was definitely looking more solid!
As the inside was so complex, I wanted to keep the topping simple. Using some left over, thinned down icing, I painted a heart on the top…
… and covered with red shimmer sugar, coaxing into place as well as possible.
Well the outside didn’t look too bad after all the cream cheese issues – but as they say, the proof of the pudding…
Hoorah! The layers looked fab! And perfect with the cream cheese frosting.
Of course Rob loved it (I haven’t yet made a cake he didn’t!) and went back for 2 generous slices.
Happy Valentines everyone! <3 x