A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about painting flowers using food colouring, which we did in my cake decorating class - though we did it on a covered cake board, not on an actual cake. I'd seen a few pictures of wedding cakes online - when I was researching what to do for my own - that were covered in painted flowers or designs and thought it looked really nice, so when it came to making a cake for my mum for Mother's Day today my starting point was that I wanted to paint flowers on it!
Since the cake was going to look floral and spring-like I wanted a lighter flavoured cake. I found a recipe for a Finnish lemon Mothers' Day cake that used mascarpone cheese and looked really tasty. The cake is covered with a piped mascarpone buttercream but in order to paint on mine I needed to cover it with sugarpaste. I also decided the cake would benefit from the addition of some cloudy lemonade to the mixture! In fact I changed the recipe quite a lot in the end as it also called for 4 tbsp. potato flour which I didn't have, and after I added the lemonade I decided it needed a bit more flour. And I used self-raising flour rather than plain flour and baking powder! So here's what I did:
200g caster sugar
200g self-raising flour
150ml no-added sugar cloudy lemonade
for the syrup:
juice of 2 lemons
150g icing sugar
for the filling:
200ml double cream
200g mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp. icing sugar
6 tbsp. lemon curd
Preheat oven to 180C and grease a deep 8-inch cake tin - if your tins aren't deep enough you could use two as I did.
Whisk the eggs with the caster sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the lemonade then fold in the flour.
Pour into your cake tin(s) and bake for 35-45 minutes (more like 45 if you have a deeper cake in one tin, less if you are splitting the mixture across two tins).
Meanwhile make the syrup - heat the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small pan, stirring until the icing sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool.
Remove the cake(s) from the oven and allow to cool. If you have made one large cake, cut into two or even three layers. Soak the cakes with the lemon syrup.
To make the filling, whisk the cream until thick, then add the mascarpone and icing sugar and whip again. Spread a layer of lemon curd then a layer of cream over the bottom layer of your cake and place the other layer on top. Repeat if you have three layers.
This looks really nice and I'd have been happy just to serve it like this!
Spread a thin layer of the cream over the top and around the sides of the cake.
Roll out about 500g of fondant on a surface dusted with icing sugar until it is in a large enough sheet to cover your cake - an easy way to check is to measure both sides and the top of your cake against your rolling pin, so I know for instance my fondant needs to be as wide as 3/4 of my rolling pin.
Lift the fondant using the rolling pin and drape over the cake. Pat down the sides and cut off the excess, then smooth the top and sides using a smoother or the side of your hand and trim off any more excess.
To do the painting, it's best to leave the fondant to dry but it doesn't need to be completely hard to do this. See this post for full painting instructions. Essentially all you do is mix one or two drops of clear alcohol (the little bottles you get on planes are perfect for this) with some gel food colour. The best way I found to do this is to get some colour on a toothpick or cocktail stick, place the cocktail stick in a bowl or in an artist's palette, and pour a drop or two of alcohol onto it. Use your paintbrush to scrap the colour into the liquid, mixing until you have a liquid colour that isn't too runny. You can tell when you start to paint on the cake if it's too runny or pale, in both cases just add a bit more colour in the same way.
I decided to do different types of flowers in different colours and painted them on the top of the cake and around the sides, then mixed up some green and added stems connecting similar flowers and added leaves. I left some white space but I think with the green giving a connecting detail it looks quite nice - sort of chintzy but that was the look I was going for!
I'm sharing this cake (not literally...) with Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker, my co-host for Alphabakes as the letter she has chosen this month is C and I've used cream in this cake as well as mascarpone cheese.
I'm also sending this to Tea Time Treats, hosted by Jane at the Hedgecombers and Karen at Lavender and Lovage, as their theme is Easter and spring.
Finally I'm sending it to the Food Year Linkup, hosted by Charlotte's Lively Kitchen, as it's Mothers' Day this month (in the UK anyway!).