Princess Birthday Cake

Well, this was waaaaaaaaay out of my comfort zone but I do like a challenge! Made for granddaughter, Georgia’s 3rd birthday, my first princess cake didn’t turn out too badly (although I was striving for a more refined look). The sponge was gorgeous (bit like the granddaughter) and the assembly and decorating job wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be given the fantastic stuff that you can now buy ready-prepared. But….working with icing is definitely not a natural gift for me

Serves 12 – 16

What you need…

1 x Barbie-styled doll (supermarkets sell cheap alternatives to the original)

1 x cake board

1 x deep, 15cm-round cake tin, liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

1 x 1 litre ovenproof glass pudding bowl, liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

1 x baking tray

1 x 6cm round cookie cutter

1 x icing bag fitted with a star-shaped nozzle

500g unsalted butter, softened

500g caster sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

¼ teaspoon salt

10 large, happy eggs, lightly beaten

170g plain flour

200g full-fat Greek yogurt

500g self-raising flour

for the butter cream and decoration

250g unsalted butter, softened

500g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting

Pink food colouring

400g white ready-to-roll (fondant) icing sugar

500g pink read-to-roll (fondant) icing sugar

A fanciful collection of readymade flowers, cake decorations and glitter sprays!

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 160˚c/310˚f / gas 3.

If you have a tabletop mixer, that would be ideal; otherwise use a handheld electric whisk to beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until pale and fluffy. Gradually pour in the eggs, whisking the whole time and making sure that each addition is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next. (Add a little plain flour if it looks like the mixture might curdle).

Still whisking, add the yogurt. Mix the flours together and then tip them in, whisking until incorporated. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bowl, filling them both almost to the top. Pop them both onto the baking tray and then into your oven for 1 hour and 40 – 50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out the clean and the sponges are golden.

Words of warning: the sponges rise massively over the top of the two dishes – don’t panic (as I did) – they’re supposed to!

Cool the cakes in their containers completely.

Meanwhile, make the butter icing by using a handheld electric whisk to beat the butter until really soft and then gradually whisking in all the icing. About half way through adding the icing, add a drop of food coloring – a little goes a long way. Add more nearer the end until you achieve shade you are looking for.

Back to the cakes: whilst still in their containers, trim the tops of the cakes level. Turn them out onto a board. Slice the pudding basin sponge into 3 layers. Slice the 15cm sponge into 2 layers.

Check your cookie cutter is big enough to go past the dolls hips and if so, use it to cut out a hole in the centre of each sponge slice.

Place 1 layer of the 15cm sponge onto your cake board and spread a little butter cream over the top. Add the other layer and again spread with the butter cream. Repeat with the three pudding basin layers, starting with the largest layer and ending with the smallest. Slather the whole sponge ‘skirt’ as it now is with butter cream, reserving a couple of large spoonfuls to use as ‘glue’ later.

Lightly dust your work surface with sifted icing sugar. Take 300g of the white fondant icing and roll out into a long strip, about 8cms wide. Attach to the bottom of the sponge skirt, pushing gently into the butter cream and leaving a ‘hem’ to spread out a little onto the board. Press a spoon right the way around the ‘hem’ to give a frilled effect (I did not master this!!!)

Roll out the pink icing to a 36cm circle. If like me, your circle isn’t very neat or accurate, use a large plate or round server as a template to cut around. Use your cookie cutter to cut a hole in the middle and then gently drape the ‘skirt’ over the cake (I folded mine in half to lift it from the work surface to the cake). This was the hardest bit for me – draping and arranging whilst trying to stop the fondant cracking or breaking. However, don’t worry if it does start doing that – you can use your decorative bits to hide pretty much anything!

Take the doll and tightly wrap her legs in cling film before inserting her into the cake. Make sure she’s standing up straight!

Use the left over white fondant icing to create a semi circle big enough to fit around the dolls waist and drop down over the cake skirt. Cut in whatever fashion you like and then ‘fit’ to the cake, using a little butter icing for glue if necessary.

Then, decorate to your heart’s content. I put the remaining butter cream in an icing bag with the star nozzle to create frills and swags and a waistband to hide tears in the fondant and clumsy joins; sticking flowers, silver balls and hearts wherever I fancied. I had also found a fabulous edible silver lustre spray that gave the pink dress a gently sparkly shimmer – very princessy! You can do as little or as much as you like here.

When complete, present your masterpiece to one very excited birthday princess and then….enjoy the spoils!

Princess cake 2 w

Inspired by…

BBC Good Food

How easy…

I struggle with icing and pretty cake decorating but I know it comes easier to other people. I spent a good chunk of the day, on and off, creating this and wouldn’t be in a hurry to do another one soon but hey, if you have the time and the patience, the recipient’s little face makes it worth the effort.

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