Baptism cake. Copyright S.McAllister 2014. This shows you the cake in general but sadly also the damage done by heat on icing. It made me sad. But then I ate it.
Baptism cake. Copyright S.McAllister 2014.
This shows you the cake in general but sadly also the damage done by heat on icing. It made me sad. But then I ate it.

Needless to say (but I will anyway), I love cake. Not every type and flavour of cake, but most of them, and a lot of them. Yes. I love cake. Cake is what I make when I’m feeling sad, angry, happy, bored, and it was definitely something I was going to make for Cub.

[To put in perspective what I mean by “I love cake”: I had dreams about cake during pregnancy. I used to wake up angry that in my dream Bear had told me I couldn’t have cake. When Cub had been born and my sister made me a 3-tier congratulations cake (with Muppets on it!) I had it for breakfast… and a few snacks… every day for a week. When it was gone I was seriously annoyed there was no more cake. The dreams started again.
Get it?
I love cake.
I also converted someone into loving Pumpkin Cake.. because c’m’on! It’s darn good cake!]

My challenges for said Baptism cake:

  1. It needed to be summery. Fruit cake might seem like a good idea but it always reminds me of Christmas. June is not Christmas… well it might be… but that’s a whole new post’s worth!
  2. Bear had requested strawberry-flavoured cake. He is also not actually a fan of the strawberry fruit. Go figure!
  3. At least a couple of people are gluten-free. And I don’t mean going on a fad diet because a magazine told me to, I mean I could land them in hospital if I use the wrong ingredients and they eat it.
  4. Bear & I and a number of others are lactose-free. This one at least I’m used to but still…
  5. My sister is allergic to a number of ingredients including paprika, lemon (well, all citrus actually), dairy, etc. The lemon juice is the main problem because it is used as a natural preservative in everything. Seriously, go check something in your fridge. It’s lurking there like a sneaky imp ready to bring her out in painful rashes.
  6. Feed lots of people; we were looking at around 70 people attending our little bit of fun in the sun so ideally it at least needed to be on offer.

My plan was to create a 3-tier cake with each layer being a different flavour (because I’m crazy apparently). We would have a large strawberry-flavoured cake with strawberry filling that the majority would be able to eat (lactose-free, but not citrus-free or gluten-free); next would be a vanilla sponge with blackberry jelly filling (lactose-free and citrus-free, but not gluten-free); lastly, on top we’d have a banana sponge with banana filling (lactose-free, citrus-free, AND gluten-free).

Each of these would have a goat’s cream cheese frosting with the filling and smoothing the outside before being decorated with clean white icing (shop-bought) and multicoloured icing would finish the details.

It was a big task but one that wasn’t that difficult once you got going. Here’s what I did:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Everything was cooked at this temperature which meant I needed to check the cakes regularly but could power through each layer without stopping to sort out the oven again.
  • Start with the gluten-free cake. I was very aware that I should be using utensils that hadn’t been around the normal flour and ingredients just incase. I was not sure exactly how much, or little, gluten would start a reaction but I didn’t want to chance it. The saving grace was that we had found gluten-free self-raising flour which we could simply substitute into the mix. This made things so much easier, and the banana would also add the moisture and binding nature to the cake that sometimes is lost in gluten-free cakes.
  • As the smallest cake we made two 8-inch round cakes (they were cut afterwards to make a square cake) using: gluten-free self-raising flour (6oz), 2 bananas, caster sugar (4oz), goat’s butter although I found soya spread works equally as well (4oz), 2 eggs.
  • Simply beaten until smooth(ish – you never get banana perfectly smooth but that’s OK), divide into two greased tins, and bake for around 15 minutes or until bouncy and cooked through. Allow to cool before starting on the next bit.
  • I mixed up goat’s cream cheese with icing sugar (do this to taste) spread some on one layer, and place sliced banana on top of the frosting gently. Place the second layer on top. Liberally spread the rest of the frosting over the double layer cake and place in the fridge to cool again. Once the frosting is a little firmer, you can put the icing on top.
  • I tried to get all this done before attempting the next two tiers of the cake because of my fear of killing someone with gluten, but if you’re just cooking a nice cake then I’m sure you could efficiently get the others moving in the interim.
  • The vanilla cake was very simple. I doubled up the basic 6oz all-in-one cake mixture but made sure to add real vanilla from pods to give it a special flavour. So ingredients were: self-raising flour (12oz), caster sugar (12oz), goat’s butter (12oz), 6 eggs, 2 vanilla pods (pods cut open and seeds scrapped out).
  • This was simply mixed and divided into two 9-inch cake moulds. Wonderfully for this I had those wonderful rubber-like cake moulds which seem to just let the cake fall out. I greased it too just in case but I do love them!
  • After the two layers were baked and cooled, I put some frosting on one layer, added a liberal helping of blackberry jelly (citrus-free can be found but is a little difficult sometimes – we were using the type of jam we could find rather than having planned for blackberry jelly) on top.
  • The second layer goes on, and then is smoothed over with frosting and cooled in the fridge. Then it can be iced just like the first cake.
  • The strawberry cake, in a similar way to the banana cake above, takes out some of the fat and sugar to compensate for the strawberries. As the largest of the tiers this was a whopping 18oz mix. I used tinned strawberries in syrup as I couldn’t find puree, and added a little strawberry flavouring to taste (yes, I know, bad girl for tasting the cake batter.. but it was so yummy!).
  • Blending the strawberries was simple, and then I added this to: self-raising flour (18oz), caster sugar (14oz), goat’s butter (14oz), 8 eggs. When mixed up I used a giant 12-inch square tin. I needed to cook the layers separately because I only had one.
  • Cook until firm and cooked through. Allow to cool.
  • Again, we lathered on some cream cheese frosting to the bottom layer, added sliced strawberry (which we’d tried to dry off a little using kitchen roll), and topped it off with the second layer. Again, smooth over with frosting and into the fridge it goes. We were juggling cakes at this point and could really have used a much better, and bigger, fridge!
  • Finish covering with icing when firm, and voila!
  • I had already placed the iced cake on cake boards, but they, as tiers, did need to stand one on top of another. A trick I know for this is to add straws into the cake to support the layers above and give it more stability. Wonderfully I found used the giant plastic tubing that the icing had been wrapped around. This also meant I could sample a little of the cake before I served it, saving me from “ewwwww… that’s not good!” fears and worries.

    Sometimes it rains.
    This was what we based the decoration on. This was put on the very top and we prayed it wasn’t prophetic as thunderstorms were forcast and we had an outdoor baptism. Thankfully it didn’t rain (on the event).
  • I decorated each layer with chocolate writing and coloured icing cut into shapes. With hindsight I should have used thinner coloured pieces and kept the entire cake chilled for longer, as sadly it started to droop in the hot (and moist) weather. Even so the cake were delicious!

I ate cake for breakfast for awhile after this was made too! I regret nothing.

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