I am NEVER making a secret birthday cake again.
There, now I've added in a bit of drama let me pour out the excuses for the even worse than usual photography and abandonment of all attempts at food styling. It was my housemate Lauren's birthday on Thursday this week but pretty much since I knew we would be living together this year I've been planning on making her a cake. I've had lots of ideas and the one I really wanted to do would have gone perfectly because I've done the base of it before and I know it's a winner. Lauren knew I was making her a cake but not what sort because I had told her she wasn't getting a description because I would probably change my mind or it would go wrong. I'm still not going to describe the cake I wanted to do on here yet in case Lauren reads this and decides she would've preferred that cake but at some point it will be made and shared. A Christmas dinner party maybe? We'll see. Ok, brace yourselves. Here it is.
Now for the
excuses reasons behind it. I've had a stressful week at uni. Not because the work has been hard but because I've been getting worked up over things not going as they should in the labs. It majorly worried me that I couldn't get even the most basic things right. If I was so incompetent at hose how could I possibly spend the rest of the year doing research. I kept telling myself that everything would be ok because no matter what has happened in the past, it really has all worked out fine after the stress. So each night when I got back I'd get straight on with dinner then ban Lauren from the kitchen while I got on with a bit more of her birthday baking. Monday was brownie night (post to come soon, I promise, they're so good), Tuesday I made lemon curd for the first time for Lauren's present, Wednesday was cake baking night (taking more than double what it should have done to bake thanks to a temperamental thermostat on the oven and me not being used to a gas one) then Thursday was decoration. The lemon curd took yonks to thicken but it didn't curdle and it tasted fatastic. Lauren had some on toast for breakfast. It might seem an odd thing to give as a birthday present but lemon curd is one of Lauren's favourite things.
The original, practically fool proof cake didn't get made because the key ingredient I needed was at home. We've had car trouble lately in the form of two cars on the drive with neither of them close to working. Normally I would get driven back to Huddersfield when I go home for the weekend because I only live an hour away by car so I can take as much as I like back with me. The last couple of times though I've had to go on the train and as much as I act like a pack horse when I'm going shopping, carting so much stuff across train stations and a two mile journey between the final stop and the house really wouldn't be a good idea so I've had to be really careful what I pack. It has been frustrating me to hell not having all my stuff here. Would you believe that I only have three of my own recipe books with me and two of those were delivered to the house for reviewing? Anyway, most of the room in my suitcase was dedicated to clothes and old notes I couldn't leave at home any longer. I had the tiniest bit of space left which would just about fit in the giant silicone cupcake mould if I squashed it up. The all important jar of stuff for the other case needed more room unless I wanted a very sticky surprise when I went to unpack.
I should've just bought another jar from the shops here. I don't know what I was thinking.
Some positives now. I've been dying to use my giant cupcake mould since I got it with an issue of Baked and Delicious from ages ago. I was so worried it wouldn't come out properly though because the last piece of shaped silicon bakeware I used tore my beautifully baked cherry and almond cake in half. This one behaved itself though and came out cleanly. The cake held together when cutting even though I wasn't sure if I was using the correct xanthan gum:flour ratio as I hadn't used xanthan gum before and most importantly Lauren adored the cake. Even though I did this to the kitchen.
So after all that, you might actually like to know what the cake has in it. Well, the creamed sponge is flavoured with lemon zest, juic and curd. There is also white chocolate in there but not as much as I've stated in the recipe because I kept eating it. Seriously, I do not deserve to fit into my clothes with the amount of chocolate I've snaffled away this week. I added a very lemony drizzle as soon as the cake came out of the oven and sandwiched them together with more lemon curd. The icing should've been a fantastically innovative whipped coconut cream but despite having had the tin of coconut milk in thr fridge for two days, not enough cream separated off for me to use so I had to make a dash to the nearby Tesco to get icing sugar to make buttercream. I added what lemon curd was left, swirled it onto the cake and frantically shoved halved mashmallows and white chocolate buttons on where I could because Lauren was supposed to be going home soon and I had to serve this up quick. Lauren didn't mind though when I practically threw the spare marshmallows and buttons at her, instructing her to do some with them so I didn't eat any more.
And that's that. It doesn't sound as bad reading it all back but it really was an awful week. I wanted to cry through most of it and especially when my precious cake idea didn't go smoothly. It was all worth it though and I'm still going to enter it into a couple of baking challenges.
Firstly, We Should Cocoa where the theme this month is showstoppers because We Should Cocoa turns three this month. Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog is hosting this month now that co-creator Chele has sadly retired from blogging. The predominant flavour should be chocolate which is exactly what would've happened if I hadn't eaten so much and if I'd had to time to use the icing I've given in the recipe which tastes like white chocolate despit being buttercream.
Secondly is Calendar Cakes where this month the theme is cupcakes in honour of it being National Cupcake Week on 16th-22nd September. What better way to celecrate by making a giant version. Calendar Cakes is hosted this month by Laura of Laura Loves Cakes while co-creator Rachel of Dolly Bakes hosted last month.
There are lots of great entries up already for both challenges so I'd suggest you go over and have a look now. And because I think I'm allowed to because it's my blog, here's a cheeky link to my own challenge which I'd love for you to enter if you enjoy baking challenges.
Enjoy the recipe!
White Chocolate and Lemon Giant Cupcake (Gluten Free)
A giant creamed sponge flavoured with white chocolate and lots of lemons suitable for any celebration!
IngredientsFor the cake:
- 340g softened butter
- 340g caster sugar
- zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
- 6 large eggs
- 350g gluten free flour
- 1 1/2 tsp gluten free baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1/2 to 3/4 jar lemon curd
- Splash lemon juice
- 150g white chocolate, chopped
- 75g softened butter
- 225g icing sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Grease and flour your chosen tin. Make sure it is thoroughly done if using a shaped mould. Set the oven to 160 C/140 C fan.2. Beat the softened butter in a large bowl then beat in the caster sugar and continue creaming until pale, and fluffy. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and mix in a little at a time, adding in a spoonful of the measured flour if you think it is going to curdle. Mix in the zest too.3. Sift the flour, baking powder and xanthan gum together then fold into the creamed mixture in several batches. Alternated with enough lemon curd and juice to get a soft fropping consistency. Near the end, fold in the chopped chocolate.4. Divide the mixture between the tins, level the tops then bake in the preheated oven for one hour. I say one hour but this is llikely to vary a lot between oven. Just make sure you check it regularly after the first 40 mins, adjusting the temperature if it looks like it is browning too much without being baked inside. Mine took so long because I set the temp to 160 yet an oven thermometer said it was much lower.5. When the cakes come out of the oven place on a wire wrack to cool completely in the tins. If you want to add a drizzle, mix the juice of 2 lemons with 25g caster sugar, heat inthe microwave, prick holes in the cake and brush on while still hot.6. When cool, carefully remove the cake from the tin and make the icing. Beat the softened butter in a bowl until really creamy then sift and mix in a bit of the icing sugar at a time. Add the vanilla and a splash of milk if really necessary. Keep beating until the mixture is really pale and fluffy.7. To assemble, sandwich the cakes with lemon curd, smoother the icing on top and decorate as you wish.