Happy new year! I gave myself a blogging break last week, so this is my first post of 2014. It stems (ahaha… no pun intended) from this Neapolitan rose cake at I Am Baker - once I stumbled across it, I really wanted to give it a try, and the opportunity presented itself at my mum’s birthday. You can see a full tutorial of how to do the roses – including a video – here on I Am Baker, too. It is an absolutely beautiful cake, and you can choose whatever colours you like. This goes for the inside, too – you can keep it a completely standard cake, or you can use different colours or flavours. Get a bit imaginative with it.
I wanted to combine the pretty rose icing with some ombre shading – both in the icing and in the sponges. Ombre, if you’re not sure, is when you make a spectrum of just one colour, starting with a very pale shade and adding more colour with each layer. This was the first time I’d tried it, though I have done a rainbow cake and rainbow icing, and my very top tip is this: buy lots of food colouring, preferably gel colours. This is particularly true if you want really vibrant colours – it will take a *lot* of colour to achieve them. Buy more than you think you need. Gel colours will not only colour more deeply, they will bake up better – liquid colouring doesn’t always stand up to the oven and you can end up with shades of brown instead of the rainbow hues you had in mind.
I used my buttermilk sponge recipe to make the cake, though I doubled the vanilla, and baked it into three layers instead of five thin ones. I tinted each one a different shade of lilac, from just a tiny hint (which may not be detectable to the human eye) to as dark a purple as I could get. I sandwiched the layers together with boozeberry jam, which was pleasantly in keeping with the purple theme.
While the cakes were cooling, I made a rose flavoured buttercream – this amount should be enough for a whole six-inch cake and decorations; in real life I made twice as much and now have a looooot of buttercream in a tub in the fridge.
- 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 500g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp rose water
Cream the butter with a handheld mixer, or in a stand mixer, until soft and smooth. Add the sugar, a little at a time, until you have a stiff, sweet buttercream. Add the rose water and whisk well. If your buttercream is too soft, add some more sugar; if it’s too firm, add a splash of milk. Done! For this cake, split the icing into three, with one portion a few spoonfuls bigger than the others – this one will be used for a base coat as well as for making roses. Colour each portion accordingly. Once the cake is cooled and assembled, apply a thin layer of buttercream all round, to give the roses something to stick to, then ice as per the video at I Am Baker – here’s the link again.
And, as if by magic…
I added glitter to the roses, using a soft, dry paintbrush and gently dabbing it on before they’d had a chance to set and dry. It adds extra pretty. I also chose to add a piped star in between the roses on top, which gave a space for candles to go (I am notoriously bad for not leaving candle space in my cake creations), but I Am Baker adds little swirls, which are much more subtle if you’re not adding candles, and just want a uniform finish.
It was hard to get a shot of the colours that was very clear (curse you, winter light) but I think this last photo shows it well. It’s always such fun to slice into a cake and find a surprise like this! I really like the purple jam in between the layers, though you could also use a little of the buttercream, a different colour between each layer. Once you have the technique down – which might not take as long as you fear – you can start to play around with the cake. Give it a go!