About my baking challenge

I discovered the joy of baking for the first time ever in 2013, shortly after my dear mum passed away from cancer. During 2014 I tried to bring these two things together in a positive way , have fun and raise some money for Ashgate Hospice in Chesterfield where my mum passed away. Throughout the year I tried out new techniques and recipes from time to time ... and then sold some of my bakes for charity in my workplace. Since then I have continued to bake with some ups and downs .. and this blog charts my baking experiences, good and bad!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Pink champagne and strawberry salvage cake

The 3rd birthday party event for the Warrington CCC had a theme of cocktails and mocktails .... so I set  my brain to work to find a suitable recipe. My first port of call had to be the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook - where else?? ... and I was soon tempted by the pink champagne anniversary cake.  I am a bit limited when attending an event as I have to go straight from work as i live some distance away; so I can't bake anything that requires all day refrigeration such as cream cheese frosting. Sadly this was one of the few cakes in the book without an accompanying photograph but I didn't let that put me off, and I was quite excited by the prospect of my bake.

What can I tell you?? This cake turned into the mother of all salvage jobs ... everything that could possibly go wrong did, and I don't really know why. In the end I also adapted the cake from the original recipe - partly due to time constraints, and also as I felt it would end up far too sweet. So here is my adaptation, with notes on the issues I encountered as a fairly inexperienced baker ....

Pink Champagne & Strawberry Cake

Based on recipe in the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook

175g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs
250g self raising flour
Red food colouring
2-3 tbsp milk
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Champagne syrup:
85g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
120ml pink champagne / cava

Champagne buttercream:
225g butter, softened
450g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 tbsp pink champagne/cava

Strawberry jam for filling

1 * 18cm (7") loose bottomed cake tin

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6. Grease and line cake tin.
2. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and add a tablespoon of flour with the final egg to help prevent curdling.
4. Stir in the red flood colouring to make the mixture a delicate shade of pink.
5. Sift in the remaining flour and fold gently to combine.
6. Stir in the milk until you reach dropping consistency, then add the lemon zest.
7. Spoon the mixture into the tin and spread evenly. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
8. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
9. Make the champagne soaking syrup - combine he sugar, vanilla and 175ml water in a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. When the syrup is warm, stir in the pink champagne, then remove from the heat and set aside.
10. When the cake is cool, pour 100-150 ml of the champagne syrup over the cake and leave to soak for a couple of hours.
11. Make the champagne buttercream - beat the butter and icing sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and champagne and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
12. To assemble the cake, cut into three layers (I used my wire cutter to ensure it was even). Spread one layer with jam and buttercream, then cover with the second cake layer. Repeat the  rpocess, then place the final cake layer on top.
13. Using a  palette knife, cover the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream to form the "crumb coat".  Leave to chill in the fridge for about an hour, until firm and set. Then use the remaining buttercream to cover the top and sides again.

Everything seemed to go to plan during the preparation of the sponge ... it was only when it got into the oven that things started to go a bit awry. It had struck me that the oven temperature was quite high .. but the cake rose massively and became very "domed"; and was rather burnt on the sides but not yet done in the middle (Could this be due to only greasing the sides of the tin rather than lining with baking parchment??).

When the cake was eventually cooked through (I did turn the oven down a bit to calm the process down), after letting it cool a little I cut off the burnt sides with a sharp knife - this was the beginning of my next set of problems as it left the cake a tad unstable and crumbly.

I have never soaked a cake in syrup before; and after I had made the champagne syrup I was rather wary seeing how liquid it was - surely it would make the whole cake soggy?? Thus I poured over a bit less than the recipe suggested; but my main problem came with the fact that I only had enough time to let it soak for barely 2 hours .... when I came to cut the cake to fill it, it started to REALLY crumble!!! I had already decided to forgo the white chocolate ganache in the original recipe and replace it with some nice sticky strawberry jam (champagne and strawberries ....) but decided it would have the added advantage of helping to really stick the cake together!  Even so, by the time I had added my "crumb coat" of  buttercream the whole thing looked a shambles!! At this point I was seriously considering not attending the CCC event at all!!

However it is surprising how it can be patched up when it has firmed up in the fridge for an hour ... at this point I was able to fill all the gaps and cover it reasonably successfully. My problems still weren't quite over though ... due to the crumbliness I had to make a little extra  buttercream to plug a couple of holes .. and it turned out a slightly different shade to the rest!! ... so then I had to eke it out VERY THINLY to cover the whole cake!!

In the end, although the finished look could hardly be described as professional, it didn't look too bad .... I felt able to actually take it along to the CCC birthday event.

I was still of the opinion that it would fall to bits when sliced .. but surprisingly it held together reasonable well, and it tasted really delicious. I took the leftovers to work the next day and my colleagues wolfed them down, so something must have gone right!!

So I guess the lesson there is never give up on a cake wreck - salvage is always possible!!

I would like to enter this for this week's Bake of The Week hosted by Casa Costello

Casa Costello

and #CookBlogShare hosted by Lucy at Supergoldenbakes



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