Easy peasy birthday cake

A guest recipe by Juliet Sear
 

Ingredients checklist

Method

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 180C (fan)

Step 2

Beat 300g of the butter with the caster sugar and flavour in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until light, pale and creamy

Step 3

Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until combined, don’t worry if it curdles a little once the flour is in it will be fine

Step 4

Fold in the flour gently until just combined and the batter is evenly mixed

Step 5

Put about 400g of the batter mix into each tin, level them off to flatten with the back of a spoon or palette knife and bake for around 20-25 mins until the sponges are light, springy, golden and shrinking away from the edge of the tins a little

Step 6

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins then turn out to cool. Re-line one of the tins and put the last third of the batter into it and bake the last layer in the same way as the first two

Step 7

While the cakes are cooling completely make the frosting. Place the butter and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat for a minute or two with a wooden spoon until soft and creamy. If you prefer you can use the zest of an orange or a lemon to change the frosting flavour

Step 8

Gradually add the icing sugar, about a third at a time and beat vigorously to make creamy and light. Beat the mix well so it is smooth, light, creamy and spreadable. Set aside and cover with cling film or a damp clean cloth to prevent drying out and going crusty

Step 9

When the cakes are cooled, you might need to trim each sponge if there is a little hump on top from rising when baking, all ovens vary so you might not need to. They just need to be flat before you sandwich them together. A breadknife can be used for this if you need to trim the hump off. A good tip to help make your cake look really neat, is to use a cake board, chopping board, plate or bread board with a square of baking paper to sit your cake on while you assemble it. This makes it easy to work on and get in and out of the fridge in between setting stages without damaging it. By chilling it, it makes the next thicker coating much easier to do

Step 10

Whatever you are using as a base to work on (I used a round bread board) stick the square of baking paper to it with a dab of frosting, then add a little more to the top of the paper. Place the bottom layer onto the square of parchment. Spread over a layer of frosting with a palette knife, around 3/4mm thickness, spread it right over the top of the cake and get it as flat as you can, push the frosting right out to the edge of the cake poking over a little as this will be spread over to fill the gaps between the layers

Step 11

Top with a second sponge layer, get it in line with the one underneath and repeat with another layer of buttercream in the same way

Step 12

Place the last sponge layer on top, this time turn it over so that the smooth part that was in the bottom of the tin is uppermost to give you a neater top and push down with your hands to squidge the layers together gently

Step 13

Use the palette knife all around the side of the cake to push the buttercream into the gaps between the layers, holding it at a vertical angle so you have a nice straight side. If you need to add any extra buttercream to thinly coat the sides just add more with your palette knife, spreading around the sides to cover completely in a thin frosting as neatly as you can

Step 14

Once the sides are covered, spread thin even layer over the top of the cake to cover. Have a look at the cake and see if you need to scrape off a bit here or there to neaten, keeping in mind the angles, you are looking for a straight side and a flat top with no gaps or holes. Put into the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes to an hour to set

Step 15

To do the next coating, get the cake out of the fridge and place the rest of the buttercream on the top of the chilled and firm cake. Using your palette knife, spread it all over the top and push down the sides, spreading over as neatly as you can keeping in mind to hold the palette knife vertically when you are spreading on the sides and horizontally when you are spreading on the top. Get the coating as flat and neat as you can then put back in the fridge to set for a further 30 mins to an hour

Step 16

To decorate with the drip, boil the cream then pour it over the chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Place a plate on top and leave for a few minutes so the heat of the cream melts the chocolate chips or pieces. Then stir well in the centre with a spoon until it comes together and is smooth and lump free. Alternatively, you can melt these in a bain marie set over simmering water o in a microwave on low power

Step 17

Let cool slightly, then get your cake out of the fridge, take it off of the paper by using a palette knife and pop onto a cake plate or stand. Pour the melted chocolate and cream mix over the top, and encourage it to fall over the sides in different thicknesses and lengths of drips, it can be totally random just have fun with it! Use a small spoon to help push the drips down the sides where you like

Step 18

Finish off by adding your chocolate or sweets to the top and a few around bottom looks good too. Depending on what you are using you might like to break some of them up into little pieces this looks cool if the middles of the treats are a different colour from the outside. If you are using larger chocolate bars like mine, it’s really cool to cut these in tall shards and use them to create height on the top of your cake for a dramatic effect. Everyone will be impressed and never know how easy it was!

Guest profile

Brought to you by:

Juliet Sear

Juliet is a baking expert, cook, food stylist, TV presenter and best selling author. She is the go-to expert for out of the ordinary food challenges and creative food projects. Juliet is also a presenter for the BBC Good Food Kids Channel, as well as her own YouTube channel. She regularly presents on ITV’s This Morning and has also been a guest on Sunday Brunch and Live with Gabby.

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