My mum is an extraordinary cake maker and decorator – her wedding and birthday cakes are professional in their quality. But on the recent occasion of her 50th birthday, I knew that the task of making her cake would fall to me. No pressure! For her birthday, she went to Venice, so I decided on a Venetian theme for the cake.
It took a while of trawling pictures of the city and of Carnevale masks and patterns, but I finally came up with a design. Now, there was just the task of making it. So that involved some trawling of recipes. I decided on a madeira cake in order to have a firm cake to decorate. I used this recipe, substituting gluten-free self-raising flour, adding a little more milk and skipping the lemon zest. I also scaled up the recipe in order to fill a deeper tin.
Once the cake was out of the oven and cool, I carefully cut it in half and spread buttercream in the middle, before sticking it back together. Then I covered the whole cake in buttercream and rolled out some white fondant icing. I smoothed this over the cake – surprising myself that there weren’t any wrinkles – I think for the first time ever when I’ve been decorating a cake!
Then it was simply a case of indulging my artistic side in order to create my Venetian theme, complete with mask. I whipped up some royal icing to pipe the writing.
Boxed up, I transported it carefully to my parents’ house in time for the weekend celebrations – and the cake was a hit! The sponge had come out well and while it was incredibly sweet with all that icing, in small portions it was just right. My younger brother, however, could eat as much icing as we would give him!
Apologies that the icing recipes below are not very precise with the icing sugar – I just seive it in until it’s right! Make sure you have at least 1 large box of the stuff to ensure you have enough.
To make the buttercream:
Melt 4oz butter and seive icing sugar in, mixing until the buttercream is thick and pale
To make the royal icing:
Seperate an egg and add icing sugar to the egg white until the icing is fairly stiff. Colour as desired and spoon into a piping bag.