Pink Champagne & Strawberry Layer Cake + Mini Cupcakes

I had always wondered what Pink Champagne would taste like in a dessert, as I had heard many stories and seen many recipes, but still wasn’t one hundred per cent convinced. As was it was my Nanna’s 81st Birthday coming up, I thought it would be the perfect time to try something Pink Champagney-cakey, because my Nanna lovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvves Champagne, more than anyone else I know. I began my search for an inspiring recipe and stumbled across a Pink Champagne Cake Pop number from the ever-amazing Sweetapolita. I knew then I had to make it, because when it comes to cake, Sweetapolita is up there with the best and I knew it would be fantastic!

Unfortunately, when I made the cake I was running quite low on time (nothing ever changes!), and it wasn’t as pretty as I hoped it would be. So, it was definitely a rustic looking cake. The photos don’t do the cake justice either, I literally finished icing it and had to run out the door in my ten-inch heels, so the fact that the cake survived the journey to the restaurant is a miracle in itself! Lucky it did though, because it was really, really yummy. There was just enough booze to counteract the amount of butter and sugar in the icing, and the tang of the soaked strawberries in the middle certainly made it one delightful biteful!

My favourite part of the cake was definitely the Pink Champagne soaked strawberries in the middle. I cooked them down with some vanilla and a bit of sugar, and they were soooooo good! I could have happily eaten them all there and then.

Pink Champagne & Strawberry Layer Cake: (adapted from Sweetapolita)

  • 3 cups cake flour (if you don’t know what Cake Flour is – read this)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 170g butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Pink Champagne
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries

Preheat a fan forced oven to 175c (350F), and grease and line two 22cm spring form pans. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy, about 5 minutes. Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) together and set aside. To the butter and sugar mixture, gradually add the egg whites, followed by the vanilla. Add and alternate the dry ingredients and the champagne – make sure you begin and end with dry (3 dry, 2 wet). Stir in chopped strawberries. Mix until fully combined, but ensure you do not over mix. Evenly distribute the cake batter (use scales to ensure they are exact) into the two prepared tins. Place in preheated oven, and cook for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. The cakes should spring back slightly when done. Do not open the oven until the cakes have been cooking for 25 minutes. Leave cakes in pan to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

 Pink Champagne Buttercream: (this can be made a few days in advance and stored in the fridge)

  • 350g salted butter, chopped and softened, not melted
  • 2 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 1/3 cup Pink Champagne
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract

Beat butter until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla. Gradually add the Pink Champagne and sugar. After buttercream is fully incorporated, beat for another 5-8 minutes.

Pink Champagne soaked Strawberries:

  • 1 small punnet strawberries, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup Pink Champagne
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp caster sugar

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and leave to soak for up to an hour (you could leave it longer if you wanted to). Pour ingredients into a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat until mixture is boiling. When it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 45 minutes, or until mixture is thick and syrupy. Let strawberries cool before you put them on the cake.

Assembly:

Place one layer of cake on a stand or board, or whatever you’re using. Spread a very thin layer of buttercream over the first cake, and evenly pour the soaked strawberries, and sandwich with the second layer of cake. Cover the entire cake with a layer of buttercream, using a round edged knife. I find the easiest way to do this is to get a cup of warm water, and to regularly dip – it just goes on smoother and won’t break the cake. Top the cake with a handful of strawberries for decoration and freshness 😉

I also made some mini cupcakes with the leftover Pink Champagne buttercream I had. I managed to get some better photos of these ones…

I used the foolproof recipe I always use for Vanilla Cupcakes, they work perfectly every time and are so easy!

 

 

My First Order – Choc and Vanilla Cupcake Tower + Layered Musk Cake

I was a bit nervous about doing this! It was my friend Nikki’s 21st Birthday Party, so even more reason not to stuff up. My time management skills are close to non-existant, so it took a lot of careful planning and timing over 3 days for this to eventuate. Anyhow, we got there. And I was so happy with the end result, as was Nikki. I can’t believe I actually produced this!

Nikki wanted 70 cupcakes, half chocolate and half vanilla bean with pink and purple icing and white fondant hearts. It was also decided that I would make the Musk Layered Cake for the top layer, too. I was excited and up for the challenge! This is the first time I’ve ever properly done a cake for a party, and I really enjoyed it. Everything came together nicely and ran smoothly, with minimal disasters (there were still a couple!). The one thing I really wanted to nail were the cakes themselves. So many times at parties, the cakes, in particular cupcakes, whilst looking amazing, are often horribly dry, tasteless  and crumbly to eat. I desperately wanted to achieve a tasty and fluffy cupcake as well as perfectly swirled buttercream icing. I was lucky I found 2 fantastic recipes that worked beautifully, and the cupcakes were so delish!

I used recipes from Taste.com (best website ever!) for both the vanilla cupcakes, and the chocolate cupcakes. I made another half of the vanilla cupcake recipe, and doubled the chocolate one, and they both made around 38 cupcakes each. A tip for the vanilla cupcakes – don’t substitute vanilla bean paste for extract or essence, or god forbid imitation essence!! I think the paste really made the cupcakes, plus I love the little flecks of vanilla bean, too.

For the fondant hearts, I simply used a small heart cutter from West’s, an amazing cake supplier in Burwood, Victoria. All you have to do is roll the fondant with a rolling pin between two sheets of baking paper until it is about 1cm thick, then cut away. I brushed a tiny amount of edible glitter on each heart, which I also got from West’s. Oh, and my fondant supplier, who also made the ’21’ on top of the Musk Cake, is amazing, check out her awesome cakes here!

For the buttercream, I just beat 350g of softened, salted butter until pale and creamy, and slowly added 5 cups of icing sugar mixture. Once all that is combined, then add your colouring/flavouring. I ended up making 2 batches of pink buttercream for the vanilla cakes, and another half of the recipe for the purple icing for the chocolate cakes. For the musk buttercream, I just added 3 drops of musk essence, and 4 rolls of crushed Musk Lifesavers. If you leave the buttercream in the fridge overnight like I did, make sure you take it out for it to come down to room temp about 2-3 hours before. Although, you can always buzz it in the microwave for 20 seconds.

I really enjoyed piping the cupcakes, and they weren’t as difficult as I expected them to be. Because I was SO over washing dishes, this time I just used the Multix disposable piping bags, which are available at most supermarkets, and come in a bright orange box in the baking aisle. However, I used a  good quality large star nozzle, which worked perfectly. When you are piping a swirl, the key is to overlap the previous layer by about half, otherwise you will end up with big gaps and it will be uneven 😦

I can’t wait to make these cupcakes again, and if you ever want/need to make them, PLEASE use these Taste recipes. You won’t regret it I promise!!

Happy Birthday Nikki!

Red Velvet Giant Cupcake

For ages I had wanted to try making one of these giant cupcakes, they just look so good! I am also a huge fan of red velvet cake with cream cheese icing – best flavour combo and the deep red colour of the cake is gorgeous, too. It was Mum’s birthday (I’m running out of brithdays!), so I thought why not give it a go – and I’m sooooo glad I did – it tasted amazing! I know the decorating isn’t quite perfect, the icing was a bit runnier than I would have liked but I got to use my cute little red roses with made a nice touch 🙂

I wasn’t sure at first because I could only seem to find a good red velvet cupcake recipe, and I was a bit freaked out about the measurements as the giant cupcake pan is so big! BUT I finally found a fellow blogger who had done this before – thank god! When I poured the mixture into the tins, I was a little worried that it wouldn’t be enough because the bottom of the top cake was a lot smaller than the top of the bottom cake…but it was ok, once it was iced it looked damn scrumptious.

 I also dragged out my Nanna’s stand mixer that she hadn’t used in decades (yes, I’ve always handmixed/whisked my delights). Talk about life being made easier, I now understand people’s undying love of the KitchenAid. WOW! I love this photo of the instruction booklet – so 50’s (I’ll keep my feminist views at bay!)

Red Velvet Giant Cupcake: (adapted from FoodBuzz)

  • 8 tbs butter, softened – not melted
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbs good quality cocoa
  • 4 tbs red food colouring (or 1 tsp Wilton’s colouring gel)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp white vinegar

Preheat oven to 180c (170c fan forced). Grease and flour tins – don’t use too much flour like I did otherwise you’ll end up with cooked white blotches on the outside of  the cake 😦 In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or in a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and whisk well to combine. You may need to scrape down the bowl of the stand mixer. In another bowl, combine the cocoa, vanilla and red food colouring (if you are using liquid colouring it may turn to paste, but if using gel it will be powdery – either way it is fine). Slowly add the cocoa mixture to the cake batter and mix until well combined and until all of the cake batter is coloured. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk. Add half of the flour and salt and until combined. Scrape down the bowl and repeat the process with the buttermilk and flour. Beat until smooth. Add baking soda and white vinegar, and beat for a few more minutes. Pour mixture into prepared tins and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. The top of my cake took less time than the bottom, but it didn’t dry out at all. Let cakes cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 250g block cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened – not melted
  • 2 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat together the cream cheese and butter, until cream. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually add the icing sugar.

To assemble cake, spread a thick layer of icing on the top of the bottom cake. Sandwich top cake over the bottom one and gently press down. To ice, use a round edged knife. For the outside of the bottom cake, I just melted a bit of chocolate and spread it with a round edged knife. It hid all my white blotches nicely!