Hello, hello, hello!
As readers will be aware, I have been beavering away working on an event cake for a friend of mine. I was asked to make her gluten-free, lactose-free side-cake for the wedding so that her guests with allergies didn’t miss out! I was very honoured to be asked, but it has been a monumental undertaking. However, it all worked out in the end and the night was a beautiful one. My friend was gorgeous in her dress, she had an amazing time, and I danced so hard I didn’t even know what was what the next day! What a lovely night!
Having learned the importance of having pre-cooked cake layers in the freezer, and having spares in-case something goes wrong. I prepared the cakes a couple of weeks in advance and sat them in the freezer on cakes board until firm enough to stack. I used cake boards to get them a flat surface because my freezer has these bizarre raised lines all across the base, supposedly for sliding trays over, and then the upper level is only a wire rack. But you could use cardboard, a flat plate, etc. I also froze them by wrapping them tightly in two layers of gladwrap when fully cooled, and then sealing them in plastic bags with the air squished out! Phew!
Next came the icing, to be prepared the day before due to time constraints. I had a horrible time attempting to find the lactose free cream. I decided, silly me, to get it the week of so it could be as fresh as possible. Unfortunately that happened to be the week that I discovered one of the two biggest supermarket chains here had stopped selling it, and the other had discontinued it and sold out of all their stock, supposedly pending new packaging. I was in a panic, running hither and thither and calling all the smaller supermarkets. I did manage to find it in the end, thank goodness. But I discovered the reason the product might have been discontinued, pending new packaging. It was labelled as being 300ml of lactose-free thickened cream, but there was only 250ml in each container…trust me, I measured all four that I used!
So! I assembled the icing the night before, and fretted a little that I had beat the cream cheese too much as the icing was softer than the test batches. Dang! This did turn out to be the case, but with plenty of refrigeration and making sure not to handle it too much during the piping process I managed to get it all on as I needed it to! And I have learned my lesson about overbeating the cream cheese! I also managed to remember to take photos at each big step of the process so that my lovely readers could see the steps that went into putting the cake together. I am immensely proud of how the cake turned out, and I think this was my best gluten-free cake yet in all honesty!
Layer cakes can be a huge labour of love. There’s no denying that. But I think there are a few tricksy things that can be done to get a glorious result without having to strain quite so much over it! For one thing, this cake was quite moist, so there was no need to fuss around splitting it into four layers. And the icing wasn’t at all sickly sweet, so I could use a design where I could pipe quite a bit of it onto the cake. The other trick is that rose cakes are far more simple to do than their appearance suggests, so sometimes things that look intensive can actually be quite straightforward! And the end result for this cake was something elegant, and as one commenter suggested “very bridal”, particularly when the icing is white!
Adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly’s
Pink Velvet Cake
The Faux Martha’s
Sturdy Cream Cheese Frosting
Serves: 8-10, Prep: 2-3 hours, Cook: 25-30 mins
- 125g unsalted butter, softened (I used Nuttelex spread)
- 1 ½ cups/330g caster sugar
- 1 tsp/5ml vanilla extract
- 2 x eggs
- 1 ½ cups/225g gluten-free plain flour
- 2 tbsp/21g approx. cornflour (make sure it’s gluten free)
- 2 tbsp/21g approx. cocoa powder, gluten free (also check to make sure it’s dairy free if making this lactose free, as some brands have milk in them!)
- 1 cup/250ml buttermilk* (see note for lactose free version)
- ½ tbsp/10ml Americolor super red gel colour (my bottle says it’s both dairy and gluten-free, but not nut-free sadly!)
- 1 tsp/5ml white vinegar
- 1 tsp/8g approx. bi-carb soda
Cream Cheese Icing (This is for a double batch)
- 4 cups/1ltr thickened cream chilled (I used Zymil’s lactose free thickened cream)
- 2 cups icing sugar, gluten-free, sifted
- 2 tsp cream of tartar, sifted
- 2 tsp/10ml vanilla extract
- 452g cream cheese, chilled (I used Liddell’s lactose free cream cheese)
- 1 x cake turntable, this will make life so much easier!
- 1 x 10-inch cake board.
- 1 x offset spatula.
- 1 x piping bag or large ziploc bag.
- 1 x 1M piping tip
- 1 x 10 inch, at least 6-8 inch high cake box
- Plenty of fridge and freezer space!
NOTE – To make lactose free buttermilk combine 1 cup/250ml lactose free milk with 1 tbsp/20ml lemon juice, stir, and let sit for 5-10 minutes. You’ll notice it thicken up just like buttermilk!
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease two deep 20cm/8 inch round cake pans and line the bases with baking paper.
- Combine the buttermilk and food colouring and set aside.
- Sift together the flours and cocoa powder and set aside.
- Beat butter, extract, sugar and eggs in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add in the buttermilk mix, and flour mix, in two batches, and mix until combined.
- Combine the vinegar and bi-carb soda in a cup. Allow to fizz, then fold into cake mixture.
- Divide the mixture between pans.
- Bake cakes about 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean. One or two moist crumbs is okay, but you do need the cakes fully cooked through!
- Stand cakes in cake pans for 10 minutes before turning top-side up onto wire rack to cool.
- When completely cold, wrap the cakes in two layers of plastic wrap, and finish by sealing in plastic or ziploc bags with the air pushed out. Sit them apart on two cake boards or other hard, flat surfaces in the freezer.
- NOTE: There’s no need to trim these cakes, as the design doesn’t require them to be completely flat!
- NOTE: You don’t have to use frozen cakes, you can use them on the day of baking, or only pop them in the freezer for an hour or so to chill. I recommend chilling them, because it makes them infinitely easier to handle. But as I prepared them well in advance I had to freeze them.
- The day before you need the cakes, pop them from the freezer into the fridge – still wrapped, and make sure they’re not touching. Let them thaw overnight.
- Prepare the icing! You can also do this the night before if you’re time poor.
- Combine the cream, icing sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla and whisk until stiff peaks form, as if you were making regular whipped cream.
- In another bowl, beat the cream cheese until it has become smooth and spreadable. This could take 2 minutes or so.
- NOTE: You don’t want the cream cheese to be “soft” per say, just spreadable. If it’s too soft the icing will also be too soft. Test the spreadability by running a spatula or knife through it.
- You can either pop the icing back in the fridge, covered, to chill, or start using immediately like the original author does.
- When ready to assemble, place the cake board in the centre of the turntable. You really want it centred, as it makes cake assembly easier.
- Smear a little bit of the icing right in the middle of the cake board, this will help stick the first cake layer down.
- Place the first cake layer, flat side down, onto the centre of the cake board.
- Spread an even layer of icing over the top of the first cake. Some people find this easiest to do by piping a thin spiral of icing onto the cake, with as few gaps as possible, and then smoothing it. I only used my offset spatula, placed dabs of icing onto the cake, and then gently smoothed it back and forth and spun the cake to get it even, using the turntable.
- Place the second cake, flat side down, on top of the second layer. Make sure it’s aligned to the bottom layer!
- Spread a thin layer of icing over both cakes, ensuring the cake is fully covered and no gaps remain. It’s okay to see through to the cake in some spots. The crumb coat is really only there to make sure the cake is sealed, the crumbs are sealed, and that the final design will have something to stick to. If you notice you have a ridge of icing sticking up around the top of the cake from doing the sides, simply gently scrape it in towards the centre of the top layer to even it out.
- TIP: I find the easiest way to get the process started is to take a scoop of icing on the offset spatula, place it against the side of the cake, and gently move the cake side to side using the cake turntable until the icing has spread and stuck on enough for me to then smooth it by dragging the spatula towards me with it at slight angle. It means I place no pressure on the cake, and the icing, just with the motion of the turntable, spreads out.
- NOTE: Make sure to clean the spatula between goes, as you don’t want any crumbs in the cream!
- Once the crumb coat is complete, carefully clean the cake board, and pop the cake into the fridge to firm up for up to 30 mins. You’ll also want the remaining icing back in the fridge.
- When ready to do the next steps, snip the tip of the piping bag, or corner of a large ziploc bag if that’s what you have handy, and slide in the piping tip.
- If you’re a nervous nelly like me, I also like to put the bottom of the cakebox on the turntable now so that I’m not trying to move the finished cake onto the box after the fact. But it will entirely depend on your cake box, and the steadiness of your hands how you proceed!
- Pop the cake board back in the centre of the cake turn table.
- TIP: if you’re concerned about uneven roses, you can use a very small (as in the height of one cake layer type small) cookie cutter or biscuit cutter to gently mark two row of touching circles around the cake. The bottom row is just a general row, for the second row, however, the circles must align with the gaps between the circles of the bottom row. This will give you a guide for where your roses will go or show you if you have enough room to fit evenly sized roses.
- Fill the piping bag with icing, pushing it all the way down, and squeezing out any excess air.
- Pipe your roses by starting in the centre, and piping around in one continuous stream in an anti-clockwise direction, either finishing around the bottom – depending on space, or coming back around to the right side. Repeat this step to complete the first row.
- If need be, you can pop the cake into the fridge to chill again, otherwise pipe the second row of roses, starting the new row in the gaps between the the row below. You don’t want the roses to align, it won’t work very well, will leave gaps and simply look a bit strange! It’s also okay if these roses stick up over the top of the cake a bit.
- Then repeat the process on top of the cake, moving towards the centre.
- NOTE: If any of your roses look strange, blobby, or simply don’t work, gently either use your clean finger or your spatula to scrape it off and try again!
- To fill any gaps, simply pipe little stars or dabs with the cream.
- Pop into your cake box and pop back in the fridge to chill until required!