Baking a birthday cake for a self-proclaimed savoury lover is a difficult job, and one that I was tasked with last weekend for my Mum’s 60th. To add even more pressure, my Nan, still baking in her 90th year, was there to try a slice: there was no way I could mess this up.
I opted for a straightforward Victoria sponge, with vanilla icing and raspberries – my Mum’s favourite fruit. I’m also a big fan of the semi-naked icing trend, so thought that would be the best decoration to give a classic cake a modern update.
This time, I took the ingredients from Delia’s recipe and doubled it with the hope of making four layers (three for the final cake, and one trial sponge). I didn’t follow Delia’s method here, opting for the more classic order of proceedings: creaming butter and sugar, beating in the eggs and then folding in the flour. In the end the mixture only went as far as three tins, but the cooked sponges were a good height – maybe the trick is just having more mixture!
Decorating proved slightly more tricky. I have almost no experience of decorating cakes as I always think the taste is far more important. However, you can’t give someone a cake for their 60th birthday and not decorate it, so I went for the semi-naked icing approach. I love the look as it’s not too over the top, and looks like it gives a good amount of icing (ie not too much). This is what I had in mind while planning the cake:
In practice, the effect is quite difficult to achieve – particularly that light covering of icing all over. I had to transport the cake back to my parents’ and was concerned about it all falling over so was quite sparing with the icing and jam between layers. In hindsight, pushing the icing towards the edges would have been better, as I ended up plugging the gaps rather than icing the whole of the outside. I would also use a softer icing, perhaps by adding a splash of milk, to make it more spreadable.
I also attempted a drizzle effect with some homemade raspberry coulis. It tasted great (I just boiled some raspberries with a little water, sugar and lemon juice), but It wasn’t quite drizzly enough and looked a bit messy (as the photos below show). A caramel or chocolate sauce would definitely work better.
Though it does look quite messy, I’m also impressed with how it turned out – not bad for a first attempt. Next time I’ll use a slightly different recipe for the icing, and maybe think more carefully about any drizzling effects. Saying that, it all went in one go, so maybe I don’t need to worry so much about the decorating…!