So go on then. How many times have you carved a pumpkin and don’t even bother to scoop out the insides? We’ve all done it but this year – like last, I scooped out enough to feed a small army and that was with just one daughterling. The other one didn’t even get her’s carved! Teenagers! So we have a whopper of a pumpkin to use and it’s the second week in November. So, I did what every good cake blogger does. I baked!
Every year I give my mum the pumpkin flesh as she makes killer chutney with it but this year I made a cake and still had plenty left over to share. This pumpkin cake is really moist and quite heavy. It’s a slow bake cake and is the kind you could use to stack for a tiered cake. Perfect for an October wedding cake maybe? Think of it as a carrot cake made with pumpkin. It’s topped with a cream cheese frosting – the recipe for which I got from Jane Curran, the food editor on Woman&Home. It’s the only cream cheese frosting recipe I use. It can’t be beaten. It also lasts a long time. Once decorated we were still eating this cake a week later and it was fine.
So, have you seen the trend for naked cakes yet? I really love the look of them but they do have a lot of downsides. Firstly there’s no fun with sugarpaste when you make them! Secondly there’s no sugarpaste to hide any mistakes (including wonky stacking or gaps in fillings). And thirdly……. No, I can’t think of the thirdly! You see I love them. The more uneven, messy and squadgily creamed they are the better I think they look! A friend of mine got married last May and she had a naked Victoria Sponge three tier wedding cake decorated with fresh flowers to match her bouquet and it looked so beautiful.
Here are just a few I have added to my Pinterest boards ‘Bakes I like’. What do you think. Is it a trend that will stick around or do you think it’s a passing phase?
Last week I made this really big (and really heavy) wedding cake. I have been asked a few times now how I cover cakes with sugarpaste and get it looking so smooth, so, I took some snaps as I went. My poor camera is now covered in icing sugar! I started with each cake covered in marzipan. It gives a really smooth base coat. (To cover a cake in marzipan you do the same proceedure as with the icing- you just use jam or buttercream to attach it, not alchohol) I found out whilst making this cake that if you buy a 5kg box of sugarpaste you get 1kg free. It’s so much cheaper to buy in bulk! I buy from here by the way. Just look at the size of that sugarpaste! It’s massive and really heavy. I break off big chunks and knead them until soft and pliable, then add the next chunk of sugarpaste, till I have enough to cover the whole cake. I use spacers when rolling to make sure that the icing is level throughout. This was a 12″ Madeira cake so the sugarpaste needed to be rolled out to a really big circle. In order for the sugarpaste to stick to the marzipan you need to make it damp. For this use either cooled boiled water or brandy. You can guess which one I used! Well, it was a wedding cake! Use a damp pastry brush and cover the whole cake especially around the base.
If you are sugarpasting directly onto a cake (ie with no marzipan) add a thin layer of buttercream to the top and side of the cake for the sugarpaste to stick to. The smoother you can get teh buttercream the better the sugarpaste will look. Carefully lift the rolled out sugarpaste over the cake. Support it from underneath as much as you can as it will stretch very easily- making it very thin in some areas. Use a cake smoother to gently force any trapped air bubbles out and smooth the top layer of the cake. I have this pink spirit leveller just for using with cakes. It’s an essential tool when stacking cakes, as if you get the bottom two tiers wonky it will throw the whole cake off. Most of the time you can keep using the smoother to get the level as good as perfect. Keep smoothing in a circular action and checking the flatness till it’s good. Once the top is nice and flat gently use the palm of your hand to smooth down the sides. Avoid creases at the bottom by holding the lower piece of sugarpaste out away from the cake while you smooth it gently towards the bottom with your other hand. (It’s impossible to take a photo of this action when you are home alone on a Tuesday afternoon!) Hope it makes sence. Once the whole cake is covered use the palm of your hand to smooth the edges of the icing securely onto the cake. There is always some excess to cut off. I use a pizza wheel to cut away the extra sugarpaste. Don’t lean the cutter in towards the bottom of the cake. Keep it at a right angle and leave about 2mm sticking out. Use a flat smoother to tuck in the excess 2mm of sugarpaste all the way around the cake. Use the inside part of your palm- between your thumb and first finger, and smooth the top corner until it’s really soft and there are no bumps. The last action is to finish off with a cake smoother all over the top and around the sides till it’s perfectly smooth.