Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Rainbow Sprinkle Cake!

Warning: This is a slightly long post/tutorial but completely worth it as the end product is amazing! Please read on!!
I feel like I've been slacking on my baking recently,I've been so busy I haven't had the time to bake nearly as much as I would have like and certainly not anything worth sharing at the moment! A few recipes are works in progress... So rather than post something less than perfect I thought I would share my favourite cake I have ever made! It is the cake that gets by far the most compliments and the cake that people ask me about the most, even now 4 months later (surprisingly simple... I almost don't want to ruin the illusion) and it is a special cake as it is the cake that I made for Martin's birthday back in May! It's just such a wow-cake I couldn't not share it with you!!
I will warn you, however, that this was a pre-blog cake from  before I cared about what my cake pictures looked like (look at my first post and you'll see what I mean!) so they are not spectacular photographically but hopefully you will still love it, despite the wonky pictures!

It is a rainbow-sprinkle-smartie-sweetie cake (basically everything I love in life on a cake) with four layers made from a double-batter of classic vanilla Victoria sponge filled with a thin layer of buttercream and strawberry Jam. As this cake had so much going on already with the sprinkles and the smarties, I didn't opt for thick, piped buttercream between each cake layer - even though it would have resulted in a taller cake; which I love - I thought the texture and the flavour of the cake as a whole would benefit from a thinner layer but this ultimately is down to your own personal preference! Each layer of cake was coloured a different bright colour with Wilton gels (if you don't have these - go get them now, they are amazing!) which I think perfectly complimented the rainbow exterior with all the sprinkles! A shallow-ish hole was carved out of the top: NOT DOWN INTO THE CAKE, and filled with smarties and your favourite cakes on thick-gauge flower wires! I hope these instructions are good enough to compensate for the severe lack of photos!!

Total time: Approximately 3 hours (45 minutes to prepare/bake the cakes), 2 hours decorating time not including cooling/refrigerating times.
Difficulty: Medium
You will need: 2 x cake box/double cake batter, 4 x food colouring, approx 300-400g buttercream, a few heaped tablespoons of jam, A LOT of sprinkles (I used 3 whole tubes), approx 150g smarties, 15-20 smallish sweets (e.g. dolly mixtures/liquorice allsorts), relatively thick gauge flower wires, large serrated knife, offset spatula, large spoon.

1. Preheat the oven to 180c and prepare 4 x 8 inch cake tins with butter and flour so that the cakes do not stick.

2. Split the cake mix evenly between the 4 tins (use your favourite vanilla cake mix or a box mix. Check back soon for my go-to recipe). Dye each tin the colour of your choice - I chose red, green, blue and orange as, in my experience, they give very bright results. Obviously I avoided pinks and purples as the cake was for a man but I think this cake would look beautiful filled with those colours, maybe even an ombre/gradient effect! If you are using Wilton gels only use a very small amount - 1/4 of a teaspoon will be more than enough!!

3. Bake layers for approximately 15 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave cakes to cool COMPLETELY before progressing. I get so impatient with this step but it honestly makes all the difference. While the cake is cooling, prepare the buttercream.

4. Once the cakes are cool, level each layer by taking a large serrated knife or a cake leveler if you own one (if you make a lot of cakes I highly recommend investing, they are not expensive!). To do this place the knife at the point at which you want your cake to be leveled - ideally at the bottom of the dome that may have risen out of your cake during baking. Place your other hand on top to steady the cake and use big, sawing motions to evenly cut across the top. At this point It is a good idea to remove any particularly hard, crusty bits from the sides of the cake.

5. Now stack the cake and spread or pipe a layer of whatever filling you choose (jam and buttercream is a classic filling and is beautiful). I usually spread jam onto the top of the first layer and buttercream onto the bottom of the second and sandwich together then continue this process until all your layers are stacked (this is where a picture would have come in handy..!). It is a good idea to flip the top layer over before filling so that the bottom of the layer is the top of the cake. It will have cleaner edges and a flatter bottom so will improve the look of your cake!

6. You should now give your cake a crumbcoat: a thin first layer of buttercream to cover the cake to stop pesky crumbs getting into the final layer of your icing and spoiling the finished appearance! To do this, scoop a large tablespoonful of icing onto the top of the cake and spread it over the top and down the sides with a knife or an offset spatula. Remember, this is only meant to be a thin base coat and it does not matter AT ALL if it looks messy. Once this is complete, put it in the fridge for an hour or so to cool completely. Next comes the fun part...

7. While your cake is cooling, prepare the decorations for the cake. Firstly make a lot more buttercream, 200g should be enough. Secondly, take your flower wires and your chosen sweets and carefully insert the wire into the middle of the sweet until about half way in. The way you do this depends massively on the type of sweets you use - I used haribo and found them very heavy and difficult but I also used some dolly mixtures and jelly tots and these worked much better. Use a variety of different lengths of wire - some long, some short and try to use a mixture of sweets. Put these to one side for later.

8. Remove your cooled cake from the fridge and begin spreading the buttercream in the same way as before. Start on top and spread out towards the edges and down the sides. TIP: Use a separate bowl to scrape the spatula/knife into, DO NOT scrape back onto the edges of the cake as tempting as it is. So one bowl for clean buttercream, another for crumby buttercream. Once you have a smooth finish you can begin covering it with sprinkles. Again, don't worry too much if its not very smooth as it will be covered in sprinkles which is very forgiving! But aim for as smooth as possible.

9. I have seen other ways to cover a cake in sprinkles, look on pinterest and you will too but I found this way to be easy enough. I just imagine it would take slightly longer and be a bit messier... But that's half the fun!! Put your cake onto a tray with raised edges or in a large Tupperware container to catch the sprinkles and make less of a mess, and begin pouring sprinkles onto the top of the cake, it is as simple as that! Try not to make them lump together. Once the top is covered, move onto the sides. I literally just used my hands and threw the sprinkles at the cake, I also patted them onto the sides very gently in places that looked a bit bare. Do this until the cake is covered. 

8. Use a large spoon and scoop out a shallow hole in the top layer of the cake, it shouldn't go further than the top layer and shouldn't be too wide. Once happy with the hole, pour in the smarties! You will need more than you think, I had to drive to sainsburys THREE TIMES because I kept underestimating how many smarties I needed! I would say it was around 100g, or a very large cupful at least. Once this is complete, carefully begin inserting your sweet-skewers into the cake. Put the longer wires with bigger sweets in the middle of the cake and the shorter wires further out. Try to be consistent with the angles of the wires - all coming slightly outwards. It should resemble a blossoming bouquet of sweets!!

Now step back and admire this beautiful cake you have made and prepare yourself for the reactions you will receive!! I really really hope this tutorial has been easy to follow but if you have any questions at all, if anything isn't clear please contact me in the comments or email me and I will try to help!! I may even make another at some point and update with pictures if you think that would be helpful!

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