Champagne and Strawberry Celebration Cake
From time to time I get asked by family and friends to do cakes for birthdays or whatever occasion. And d’you know what?…no matter how many times I bake a cake or how confident I would say I am in my cake baking skills (in comparison to biscuit!) I always get the fear that the cake won’t be well received. Touch wood, that has yet to happen but the fear is real guys!
So I was asked to make a cake for my mate’s significant other. She’s not his wife, but more than a girlfriend so a partner? Let’s go with partner! When I asked him what did he want…
OK, great…a blank canvas. Scary! More potential for ‘the fear’ to creep in as I haven’t been given a script to stick to.
So I suggested lemon…”oh jaysus no, she doesn’t like lemon”…Fear. Growing.
Long story short, I knew she was partial to a glass of prosecco so this is where this little recipe has come from.
I can’t tell you how amazing the addition of fresh strawberries in the buttercream. A lot of time in baking you’re just inundated by all the sweetness, but the fresh strawberries make such a nice light addition. Highly recommend! And thanks to ‘Handle the Heat’ for her recipe on meringue buttercream. This recipe never fails, honestly it’s such a fail-safe.
460g salted butter
460g caster sugar
9 medium eggs, room temperature
460g self-raising flour
200g caster sugar
4 tablespoons of Champagne (I always use the wee taster bottles available in Tesco/Asda)
150g egg whites
250g granulated sugar
340g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1. Grease and line 4no. 7” cake tins using butter and greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 160oC
2. Place the butter and sugar into an electric stand mixer (or you can use a hand mixer), beat on medium speed until the sugar and butter are nice and fluffy and a nice pale colour
3. Crack the eggs into a jug and mix gently with a fork
4. Sift together the flour into a bowl
5. Alternate between adding the eggs and flour, bit by bit to the butter and sugar mix in the stand mixer until everything is added and mixed well together
6. At this stage it is good to use a spatula to scrape the side of the bowl to ensure all the ingredients are being incorporated well together
7. Carefully scoop the cake batter evenly between the four tins. You should have enough left over for a 5th layer
8. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the sponge is well risen and springy to touch
9. Once the cakes are cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10minutes before using a skewer to pierce holes on top of the cakes and using a pastry brush, soak the cakes with a generous amount of the champagne sugar syrup
10. Remove the cakes from their tins and place on a cooling rack to cool down completely
11. While the first 4 are cooling, re-grease and line one of the tins and repeat steps 7-10 for the 5th layer
While the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream
12. Place a few centimeters of hot water into a medium sized pan and place over a low heat
13. Making sure the bowl of your stand mixer is scrupulously clean and dry, weigh the egg whites into the bowl and place the bowl over the saucepan ensuring the water is not touching the base of the bowl
14. Add the sugar and mix with an electric hand mixer until the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is hot. The egg whites should be heated to 60oC. This will take anywhere up to around 10minutes or more. Just be careful not to have the water too hot, and keep mixing the meringue constantly or you will end up with cooked egg whites in itty bitty lumps!
15. When the required temperature has been reached, place the bowl back onto the stand mixer, fit with the whisk attachment and whisk at a high speed for 7-10minutes again until the egg whites have cooled
16. Meanwhile, weigh the butter. Once the egg whites have cooled, change from the whisk to paddle attachment and run the mixer on a medium speed. Pinch off small bits of the butter and add one at a time to the mixer, ensuring that the pieces of butter are well mixed before adding the next.
17. Place 6-7 large strawberries into a blender/Nutribullet (or use a hand blender instead). Blitz to a pulp, then run the strawberries through a sieve so you collect all of the juice.
18. Add 4 /5 tablespoons of the juice to the buttercream, adding in a slow steady stream with the mixer on low speed. If the buttercream starts to split/curdle keep mixing and it should come back together again. Taste as you go along; if you need more strawberry flavour add it. I added a tiny hint of gel food colouring at this stage too to get the pale blush pink colour but that’s up to you if you wish to add or not-not essential!
19. Using a sharp bread knife, trim the top crust off each sponge. Aim to make all the sponges the same depth and level!
20. Spread a cake board with a thin layer or butter cream to act as a glue for the cake. Stick the first cake layer on top of the buttercream. Use a palette knife and spread the buttercream filling over the bottom layer. Place the next sponge on top and repeat the layer process with cake and buttercream until the cake has five layers. (To get a nicer finish on the cake, place the top layer of the cake with the trimmed edge facing down)
21. Using a palette knife, pile a decent amount of buttercream onto the top of the cake. Working from the centre, spread the mixture towards the edges of the cake and down the sides.
22. Using a cake scrapper, place it on the far side of the cake with the long straight edge against the cake and the bottom side of the scraper sitting flat on the bench (or cake turntable if you are using one)
23. Pull the scraper towards you, will pushing the cake in the opposite direction, smoothing the frosting until the buttercream is smooth. You’ll probably need to repeat this process a few times to get the cake fully and evenly covered. Once finished leave in a cool place
24. Add whatever decoration you fancy – I decided to go for three fresh roses and some gold leaf. Let your creative side flow here!...and then show me for inspiration ;-)