Saturday 22 October 2016

Pink Elephant Baby Shower Cake - Almond, Apricot & Mascarpone

My sister is having a baby! I’m really excited that I’m going to have a niece and I expect my parents can’t wait to be grandparents. It’s amazing how many things you need to think about when you are expecting a baby so it’s nice that in the UK we are increasingly adopting the tradition of baby showers. We have always given gifts when babies are born, but I like the American tradition of everyone (well, the women) getting together before the baby is born to shower the mother-to-be with love. It’s also helpful to receive any gifts you might have been given anyway before the baby comes, because otherwise you will probably have bought everything you need by the time it’s born!
It’s also a nice way for the mum-to-be to feel spoiled so I was happy to help organise a baby shower for my sister. It was held at the house of one of her friends, as they all live in the same area whereas I live further away, so the host arranged for everyone to bring something different to the shower, such as food, drink and decorations. I brought a few decorations, some games, and of course the cake!
You can see and download the games I did at a previous baby shower for a friend.
I started thinking about how I would design and decorate the cake before I put any thought into flavour. I wanted the cake to look the part – I had to carry it on a train and it didn’t need to feed hordes of people so much as I loved some of the two and even three-tier cakes I’d seen online, I decided one tier was enough – but I still wanted it to look special.
I also didn’t want to use a design I’d done before – partly as I wanted a new challenge but mainly because as it’s my sister, I thought it needed to be unique.
I’d made cakes with baby shoes, teddy bears and ABC blocks on before, which seemed the most obvious ideas. I browsed online for quite some time to get ideas for other themes – I wanted the cake to have pink elements as my sister is having a girl, but not for the entire cake to be pink. One motif that kept coming up was elephants, and when I found some baby shower napkins with elephants on, I decided this would be perfect. I also had my eye on the Fmm Easy Bunting Cutters, Set of 3
which I’d bought and wanted to try out. Bunting can be used for all sorts of occasions and themes and it reminded me of both garden parties and also the circus, which worked really well with the elephant idea.
 I decided to make the elephant the week before and let the fondant set hard; I knew I wouldn't have much time when I was baking the cake for the baby shower and this would give me extra time to deal with any problems like if the elephant's trunk fell off!

I added a little bit of black food colouring to a ball of white fondant -usually I complain that it's too hard to colour your own black and you have to buy it, as black food colouring only makes the fondant grey. In this case that was exactly what I needed! I had a look at a few pictures of elephants online and moulded the fondant freehand, using a knife to slice into the piece at the bottom to separate it into two legs.

I had these baby girl wafer decorations left from a previous baby shower and didn't want to use them on the cake itself but had an idea after seeing a picture of an elephant holding a balloon - I stuck it onto a cocktail stick and put that in the elephant's trunk.

I then used a small heart cutter to cut out a shape from fondant that I had coloured pink and used this for the elephant ears, and cut the tops off two more hearts for the feet. I made an eye from a tiny ball of white fondant and dipped a cocktail stick into black food colouring to dot on the pupil.

I had a plaque cutter I picked up ages ago like this one:

PME Plain and Fluted Double Sided Oval Cutter, Medium, 50 mm, 2-Inch
that I used to make a plaque from pink fondant and put another 'it's a girl' wafer onto it using edible glue.

I also covered a cake board in white fondant and let it go hard in time for next week.

So on to the cake itself. I wanted something light but not lemon as I've made a lot of lemon cakes before. The Baking Book: The Ultimate Baker's Companion (Good Housekeeping) had a recipe for almond and apricot cake and I decided to do this, but I scaled up the recipe by 50% once I found that the quantities given baked two quite thin layers of cake.

By the time I'd made three and piled the apricot and mascarpone filling in the middle it was quite a tall stack; it would have looked nice just dusted with icing sugar as the recipe suggested, but I decided to cover it in fondant so I could decorate the cake how I wanted.

You can find the full recipe on the Good Housekeeping website.

I spread the apricot compote onto the cake and topped with mascarpone mixed with icing sugar, between each layer

I spread some of the extra around the sides and on the top of the cake

When it came to decorating the cake, I covered the whole cake in white fondant and placed it on the cake board I had previously covered, with a ribbon around the edge. I stuck another piece of ribbon around the bottom of the cake, and mixed up some royal icing which I tinted pink, to pipe strings for the bunting around the cake.

I used the bunting cutter to cut out the shapes - it just gives you a lot of triangles (joined together which you have to separate) but this does mean that they are exactly the same size and shape.

I used a cocktail stick in pink food colouring to make a polka dot pattern on alternate bits of bunting then stuck each piece on to the cake with edible glue. It was hard to make it as neat as I wanted though.

I put the 'it's a girl' plaque onto the front of the cake, and the elephant on top standing on a circle of pink fondant. I switched the ribbon around the cake for a paler one as I thought the other one was too bright.
My sister seemed really pleased with the cake and it tasted absolutely delicious - really light and creamy. The decoration isn't as neat as I would have liked but I do think the elephant on top is quite sweet.

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