As you may well know, I love baking! I first got into it a couple of years ago, probably when I first started watching The Great British Bake Off, but even before that I had always made fairy cakes and other things with my mum and grandparents. I wanted to know how to make really cool looking cupcakes so I attended a cupcake decorating course which I found on Groupon and that really kicked things off. These days I mainly make cupcakes and larger birthday cakes but have tried my hand at cookies, brownies and a few different types of bread.
The other week I decided to make a pink ombré cake, so I thought I would document the process to show you all…
For the cake:
- 3 eggs (room temp)
- 188g unsalted butter (left at room temp for at least 30 mins)
- 188g caster sugar
- 188g self raising flour
- 3 tbsp. milk
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla paste (I use the proper vanilla paste rather than extract because you need less but it gives a much nicer flavour)
- Red food colouring gel
For the icing:
- 250g unsalted butter (room temp)
- 500g icing sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla paste
- Red food colouring gel
Pre-heat your oven to 180c/350F/Gas mark 4 and grease and line the tins before getting started. Also to help you further down the recipe, weigh the bowl you will be using for your mixture and write down the weight.
- Take 125g of the unsalted butter and mix with 125g of sugar in a bowl. I use a stand mixer which makes mixing ingredients a piece of cake (pun intended!) but you can use a hand held mixer (or even a whisk if you have really strong arms but you’re unlikely to achieve the right consistency this way). Mix together until the butter is really pale and fluffy.
- Crack two eggs into a mug and add 2 tbsp. of milk and 1 tsp. of vanilla paste. Mix together and then add gradually (in at least three stages) to the butter and sugar, mixing thoroughly at each point. You should end up with a thick fluffy mixture rather than something that resembles scrambled eggs, although you can add a tbsp. of flour to the mix if it does look like it has split.
- In order to get a nice airy sponge, you need to fold in the flour rather than mix it in. Take 125g self raising flour and sieve it into the mix, then use a metal spoon to fold it in until there are no lumps of flour.
- At this point you need to weigh the entire mixture (including bowl) and subtract the weight of the bowl (that you wrote down earlier) to get the weight of your mixture. You can then divide that by two and pour half into one of your tins. This all sounds quite mathematical but is fairly easy to do if you have digital scales.
- With the mixture that is left in the bowl, add a tiny bit of red food gel, I’m talking like a drop at first. Mix that in and see what the colour is like. For this layer you are looking for a really light baby pink, so it is better to add not enough colour rather than too much!!
- Once you’re happy with the colour, put both tins in the oven for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
- Bring these out once done and turn out onto a cooling rack.
- Repeat the method with the final layer (1 egg, 63g sugar, 63g flour, 63g butter, 1/2 tsp vanilla paste, 1 tbsp. milk) and colour this one darker than the other layer. Reduce the baking time by 5-7 minutes for this one.
- Once all three layers are baked and cooled, it’s time to make the buttercream icing. Put your 250g of butter into the bowl (use the same bowl as earlier) in small blocks and then give it a good mix so it is nice and soft.
- Then add the 1 tsp. of vanilla paste and slowly sieve in the icing sugar bit by bit, mixing in between adding more. This will prevent the icing sugar from flying everywhere (I still end up with it all over the kitchen somehow).
- Keep mixing the buttercream until it is very pale and really fluffy. Then weigh your mixture and split into 3. Each third should weigh 250g.
- Again, leave one third uncoloured, add a tiny drop of red to another third to get baby pink and the last third add a bit more red to get a darker pink.
- Place your darkest cake layer onto a plate or cake stand. If you plan on moving it later before eating then you might want to use a cake board underneath. Then put a nice even layer of the darkest buttercream on top of this layer, making sure to leave some for round the edges.
- Repeat with the other two layers and corresponding buttercreams, then go back to your darkest buttercream and cover the sides of the bottom layer with the leftover amount. I use a palette knife to get it nice and smooth. Spread it on quite thickly so that you don’t see any of the cake peeking through.
- Repeat this with the other two buttercreams and hopefully you should get a nice blended ombré look to the icing!