We were invited to a friends house this week, to join them and their family for some drinks and food, which is always a great day/night.
They had some family over visiting and one of the family members was going to be celebrating a special birthday……
When we had discussed it before, I offered to make a cake for the birthday girl, as my cooking guests would have left early in the day and I would have the morning and afternoon to make the cake.
So I knew it was going to be the classic victoria sponge, so simple but so complex at the same time, it just brings all the wonderful thoughts of summer and light fluffy cakes to mind.
But of course for me there had to be something else to this cake, so I started to have a route around looking for the perfect icing for this birthday cake, there are so many to choose from and so many great recipes and videos out there to help these days.
So I decided I wanted to attempt ‘Italian Meringue Butter-cream‘, I worked through so many recipes, they all had similar quantities of ingredients, some had a little colour added, some a little flavour and others some alcohol. The only other thing to take into consideration was the fact that the recipes warned about the mixture ‘splitting’ but to ‘just work through it’……
For me this was the challenge I was looking for, not only to make the IMBC, but to actually pipe it into a pretty pattern.
So after the guests left on Wednesday morning, I set about clearing the kitchen, ready for the cake baking and then the icing……
I started off by bringing the egg whites out of the fridge and leaving them on the side to warm up to room temperature, always whats needed for Italian Meringue.
I then started on the victoria spong. I softened the butter in the microwave, (not melting it, just softened) so, it would whip better with the sugar. Then when the butter was softened, I added the sugar and using the electric whisk, I whisked them together until they were nice and fluffy and lighter in colour.
I then added the eggs one at a time, whisking in between each addition, with a teaspoon of flour, so as it would all come together and not look as though it was splitting. ** If you are making a cake, butter, sugar and eggs, and the mixture looks like it is curdling, then just add 1 spoonful of the measured flour and it will come back together again.
Once all the eggs were whipped in, I added the sifted flour and baking soda mixture and whipped again, just until it all came together.
Then I split the mixture between two 9 inch lined cake tins, I weighed the mixture to ensure I had an even split of the mixture and ultimately equal layers for the finished cake.
I popped them into a pre-heated oven and baked them for 30 minutes. It was perfect, of course I checked with a tooth pick in the centre, to just make sure that it was cooked through.
I removed them from the oven and placed them on a rack to cool down, this part does take longer than you think and you really need to make sure that it is cold before you start to cover it with the Italian Meringue Butter-cream, or it will just melt and slide off, not pretty.
I removed them from the tins after about 30 minutes and placed them on a rack, and turned on the kitchen fan, just to speed up the process.
While the cakes were cooling down, I started on the challenge of the Italian Meringue Butter-cream, all the details are in another post, (linked) so you have the full recipe and instructions, but lets just say, it was great….. It took about 40 minutes in total, between the sugar syrup, the whisking of the italian meringue and then the addition of the butter to complete the Italian Meringue Butter-cream, but take it from me (and all the guests at the party), it was well worth it.
I removed the lining paper from both cake layers, and covered the bottom layer with strawberry jam, and carefully placed the next layer on top. I used some (not a lot) of the Italian Meringue Butter-cream on the sides and top of the cake, just to level it off and give the pipped layer something to stick too. I place the covered cake in the fridge for 15 minutes to just firm up, it was very hot in the kitchen.
It was then on to the piping, I used a 3-slit star nozzle for the piping, I had a little practice on the lid of my bowl, so I could just wipe it off and start again.
I placed the plate on top of a bowl, so I had a bit of height on the cake and it was easier to pipe at eye level rather than looking down.
Starting at the bottom of the cake working in vertical lines, upwards, I pipped roses, they were not all perfect, but it looked great, everyone raved about it at the party so it was really worth it.
Next time, I will blend some colour into the Italian meringue butter-cream to get an even better effect.