I used to have an aversion to baking anything too fancy. Simple cakes, simple slices and things I’d seen my Mum bake that I had some idea of how the technique looked like was about it. Now however, we have the internet and endless foodie sites spilling over with inspiring recipes and images. And so the baking side of me becomes slightly more adventurous, and curiouser and curiouser. Ahh the upside of being a food blogger and having to keep the blog fodder interesting. I am not complaining, I actually find it exciting.
I have always loved those layered cakes, the ones with 4-6 layers and delicious looking frosting in between the towering layers. The higher, the grander. And the flavour possibilities and icing options are endless – coffee, chocolate, vanilla, raspberry, buttercream, lemon curd, ganache and so on. Thanks to the likes of Pinterest and Foodgawker, we now have a multitude of choices and even instructions on how to achieve the gorgeous cakes we would in the past probably leave to the experts.
I have a friend who is a fabulous caker. She is famous for her cupcakes and small delights, she famously supplies her baked goods to local cafes around town and is well known on the Perth cake scene. Her name is Megan, she is the brains and baking genius behind Littlesweet Baking. She kindly commissioned me to photograph some big cakes she made and I was in absolute awe of the way she whipped around the kitchen, picking up these gorgeous creations to move about before she decorated them, all while I was excitedly chewing her ear off. Cake baking of this magnitude, in my opinion, requires great skill. For the record young Megan has a way of encouraging me to do things well out of my comfort zone (she was also the brains behind my food styling workshop AND she was officially the first person to employ me for a photo shoot outside of what I was used to doing), so here goes. I bake a 4 layered cake with buttercream frosting. And to think once upon a time I couldn’t even be assed to sift flour.
The cake recipe is my Mum’s from our family favourite, Finnish Tiikerikakku. I have to warn you, if you are not a sweet tooth you may struggle getting through a piece of this. The Tiikerikakku on its own is fairly sweet, but the chocolate and peanut buttercream is SAAAWEEEET!
Ingredients // Makes 2 x 7″ cakes
250g butter, cubed at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 cup cornflour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 heaped tsp (don’t level off spoon) baking powder
1/4 cup milk
For the chocolate and peanut buttercream
(Recipe from Boutique Wedding Cakes by Victoria Glass)
100g unsalted butter
100g smooth peanut butter
3 cups icing sugar
100g premium dark chocolate, melted and cooled
A splash of milk (if needed for consistency)
To make cakes:
Preheat oven to 175C. Grease and line 2 x 7″ (18cm) cake tins with parchment paper.
Beat butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla.
Sift flours, cocoa powder and baking powder in a separate bowl. Fold sifted dry ingredients into butter mixture with a wooden spoon. Add milk and mix until just combined.
Spoon batter evenly into both tins. The batter is very sticky so I find a spatula works best to level out.
Bake both cakes on middle shelf of preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. Alternate cakes at about 20 minutes to ensure even baking. Cakes are baked once inserted skewer comes out clean. (My dodgy conventional oven took exactly 45 minutes.)
Once cooked, remove cakes from oven and allow to sit for 15 minutes in tins before inverting onto a cooling rack. Once cool, wrap in clingwrap and place in freezer. This will make cutting easier when you assemble the cake.
To prepare buttercream:
Place butter and peanut butter together in a mixing bowl and beat with electric whisk until pale and creamy.
Sift half of the icing sugar over the top of the butter and beat until well combined. Add remaining icing sugar and beat until well combined.
Add cooled chocolate and mix until smooth. Add as much milk as is needed (if any) to achieve a spreadable consistency.
To assemble masterpiece:
Remove cakes from freezer and using a serrated knife, cut cakes in half horizontally. To achieve equal sizes, you can measure the height of both cakes and mark the halfway point on four sides of the cake to use as a guide as you are slicing.
Place the first slice of cake onto cake stand or board, flattest side down, and smother a layer of buttercream over the top. Place the second layer of cake on top, smother with buttercream and repeat with the third slice. Place the fourth slice on top, flattest side up.
To ensure a nice smooth finish, cover the cake first with a thin layer of buttercream to seal in crumbs. Don’t worry about smoothing the buttercream out too much as you will place another ‘final’ coat over the top once set. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Remove cake from fridge and cover with remainder of buttercream. Use a palette knife to smooth out and neaten edges.
** A small trick I learnt is to gently slide small pieces of parchment paper between the bottom of the cake and cake stand before you start frosting, so if you make a mess with your frosting you simply pull the paper out once done and your cake stand or board remains clean. Ta daa!