This year I want to challenge myself with my baking, and try new things, (including bread!), as well as improving old recipes of mine. This sponge is a good way to start any year, as it’s light and fluffy, gently speckled with vanilla seeds, and covered with a striking and beautiful icing, which will be enjoyed by everyone!
This birthday cake, which I made for my sister before I went back to uni this week after the Christmas holidays, was inspired by the fresh colours of January. I always feel that January is a pale blue kind of month – slightly washed out, slightly icy, but still a pretty colour. This cake is simple, with a vanilla sponge and jam filling, but it will appeal to everyone, and is a great staple.
Blue ombré birthday cake
For the cakes:
340g caster sugar
2tsp vanilla bean paste
340g self-raising flour
150g strawberry jam
For the icing:
120g butter, softened
500g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla bean paste
Blue gel food colouring
Blue macarons and candles to decorate
3 x 20cm cake tins, greased and lined with baking paper
Preheat the oven to 180°C
- For the cakes, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric whisk, until pale and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each egg, and adding a spoonful of flour if it looks like it might curdle.
- Sift in the remaining flour once all the eggs have been added, and fold it in.
- Spoon the mixture equally into the 3 tins, and cook for 20-25 minutes, until risen and the sponge springs back when lightly touched.
- Meanwhile make the icing – put the butter, icing sugar, milk and vanilla in a bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
- Divide the icing into 4 bowls, and colour accordingly – you want one left white, one with 8 drops of blue gel in, one with 16-20 drops of blue gel in, and the final bowl with enough blue gel to turn it a dark blue colour.
- When the cakes are done, remove them from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- When cold, even up the tops with a serrated knife until even, then layer the, up on a cake stand with the strawberry jam.
- Now you are ready to ice! Ice the top of the cake and ¼ of the way down the side with the white icing. Then spread the palest blue another ¼ of the way down, slightly blurring the join with your palette knife.
- Repeat with the remaining two blue icings, then draw your palette knife round the whole cake to create a smooth finish.
- Decorate with macarons and candles and serve!