Last week my eldest turned 7 and demanded a disco karaoke party. Not sure I knew what either were aged 7, but hey! Here are a few super easy treats I made while fitting the musical theme...
In previous years my children's cakes have been made by the fabulous Rose Petal Cakery, but now closed, I decided it was about time I attempted the dreaded fondant cake myself! Admittedly I don't agree with spending this amount of time and money on a nutritionally devoid and fairly revolting addition to a cake, but wanted to please my daughter who is already adept at swiping through Pinterest to pick her ideal creation! A musical cake was selected and this is how we achieved it:
Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line a 24cm round springform cake pan.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water (don't let bowl touch water). Cool slightly.
Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. With beaters on medium speed, add vanilla, then add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour in cooled chocolate and beat until well combined. Beat in a third of sifted ingredients, followed by a third of the milk. Repeat until all ingredients are incorporated, beating until smooth.
Pour mixture into the pan and bake for 45-55 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto rack to cool completely.
Make the second cake as per the above recipe.
Take each cake and cut the top off so it is completely flat. In the absence of many cake making tools, we used a long jamon iberico knife to do this! Experts would use a cake wire I am sure. We turned each cake upside down to ensure a completely flat top to help the fondant go on smoothly.
Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed.
Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.
We then smeared a thick layer of buttercream in between the two cakes. Using vanilla rather than chocolate buttercream gives it a good contrast in colour. We then gave the cake a "crumb coat" which means to paste the buttercream thinly all over the cake to hold in the crumbs and then refrigerate it for around 30 minutes. Ensure you have sufficient buttercream left for another thin layer on the cake as you need this to stick the fondant on.
To apply fondant
Just before we were ready to pull the hardened cake out of the fridge, we rolled out a layer of fondant icing onto a silicone mat, dusting it with icing sugar first to stop it from sticking. At this point, use a ruler to ensure your fondant sheet is big enough to cover the cake and down the sides. Then, if possible ask a friend to lift the sheet from one side while you lift the other, onto the cake. Quickly but carefully smooth it down the sides, and then cut any excess away with a very sharp knife. Once this is on perfectly, you will feel noticeably more relaxed!
Allow your first coat of fondant to dry over a few hours or overnight while you make your decorations. We rolled out black fondant and cut musical notes and letters with cutters, allowing them also to dry completely and harden before sticking them on with water. Some glitter balls on sticks and a black velvet ribbon tied in a bow were the finishing touches.
Microphone Cake Pops
To accompany the cake, we attempted to make microphone cake pops. These ended up looking more like ice-creams, since I failed to find flat bottomed cones in Hong Kong, but the kids didn't seem to complain!
We made a few batches of cake pops using a cake pop machine, and their own recipes for victoria sponge. To decorate, we bought melting chocolate from Sweet Decorations and different sprinkles to sprinkle on.
Once the cake pops were cool, we melted the chocolate above a bain marie and stuck a stick in each ball while we dipped it in the melted chocolate. We twirled it a few times to shake of any excess then quickly transferred it to a cone and sprinkled on the sprinkles. The chocolate will solidify quite quickly and as it touches the cone it will stick to it.