Sunday, 15 April 2012

Through the looking glass...

This week saw the 'final project' of my cake decorating class. Having been ridiculously excited about this for weeks and weeks, I may have come up with a slightly over-ambitious project. In the end, it took longer than the two-and-a-half hour session to decorate this cake (quite a lot longer, actually!) but I got the chance to create the semi-gothic wonderland I've been dreaming about since the project was announced, and which has resulted in 'research' in the form of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, and much time spent on google images.

Mel hosted a 'cake unveiling' yesterday, with the hope that, with help, we could limit the calorific damage of two gargantuan sugarpaste creations. However, even with the best efforts of friends and colleagues, we barely made a dent in the mountains of cake required to support the sugarpaste creations.

Ah, well. It'll be cake all round in the office next week...

Alice in wonderland cake/
White chocolate and raspberry rainbow cake with white chocolate buttercream

10" cake - provides about 30-40 servings.

500g margarine (I used Stork)
500g caster sugar
500g self raising flour, sifted
250g plain flour, sifted
9 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 orange - zest only
multicoloured sugar sprinkles
100g white chocolate, roughly chopped into chunks

For the filling:
4 tblsp raspberry jam.  I used raspberry and vanilla jam by Relish. Pricy but scrumptious!

175g unsalted butter, softened
500g icing sugar
90ml milk/soya milk
1tsp vanilla extract
200g white chocolate

To decorate (optional):
1kg sugarpaste icing, to cover (optional)
Plus extra for decorations of your choice

1. Grease and line your cake tin, and wrap four of five layers of newspaper around the outside of your cake tin. This will help it to bake evenly, without the outside edge burning.

2. For the cake, cream together the margarine and sugar until the mixture becomes creamy and white.

3. Gradually stir in the egg a little at a time. If the mixture begins to curdle, add in a little of the flour (a tablespoon at a time) to stop this happening. Keep adding the egg, little by little.

4. Coat the white chocolate chunks in some of the flour, and gradually mix in the remaining flour, white chocolate and orange zest. At the last minute, stir in the coloured sugar strands. These will give the inside of your sponge a rainbow effect. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, leaving a big hole in the centre. This will fill itself in as the cake rises.
5. Bake the cake at 160 degrees celcius (145 degrees celcius if it's a fan oven) for about 2-2.5 hours (checking after an hour and three quarters). Pop a bowl of water on the bottom of the oven as you bake, as this will help the cake to retain moisture. Also, put a baking sheet on the shelf on top of the cake, to protect it from the heat a little. If you feel the cake is browning too much on top, you can cover it with tin foil. The cake is done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

6. When the cake is completely cool, you can trim it to ensure it is completely flat (the trimmed top will be made into the bottom of the cake), slice it in half and prepare the filling. Gently heat the white chocolate in a bain marie until it is completely melted. Set it aside to cool slightly as you prepare the rest of the buttercream.

7. Whisk together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract wth a hand whisk. Gradually pour in the milk as you are whisking, but take care not to overwhisk the mixture. Pour in the cooled, melted white chocolate, and stir with a spatula until mixed together. Then whisk until the buttercream has a light, fluffy consistency, adding a tablespoon or so or extra milk if necessary.

8. Spread the raspberry jam on one half of the cake, and spreadthree quarters of the buttercream on the other half. The place the two halves together, buttercream and jam facing inwards.

9. Use a palette knife to spread the rest of the buttercream around the top and sides of the cake. If you are not using sugarpaste, then sprinkle with some multicoloured sugar strands and serve. Otherwise, the buttercream gives a smooth surface for your sugarpaste icing to stick to.

10. If using sugarpaste, roll out to the desired thickness and cover the cake, smoothing carefully. This cake will keep in an airtight container in a cool room for a good week. Do not keep it in the fridge, or the chocolate in the buttercream will set like concrete!

The hot day was making Alice feel sleepy...

 "Oh dear, I shall be too late!" exclaimed the white rabbit.
"Why is a raven like a writing desk?", asked the hatter.
"Off with their heads!"

"You're nothing but a pack of cards!", cried Alice...

... and she found herself lying back on the bank...

... so she closed her eyes, and half believed in wonderland.


  1. I really like the backwards imagination of this with a fair Queen and a dark Alice. Very cool!

  2. Thanks very much! I was desperate to do this a bit differently... Disney's great, but too 'nice' to do such an odd story justice...