So for my Sweet Mother-In-Law it couldn't just be any regular cake as her birthday gift. I needed something a bit special. If I was in a reality TV competition I would be saying this cake needed the "wow factor". I consulted my Home Guide to Cake Decorating book and the Spotted Collar Cake immediately jumped off the page. It's a regular cake iced with white chocolate buttercream dusted with cocoa, but the twist is that it has a collar of dark chocolate with white chocolate polka dots. It looked really impressive and (so I thought) not that difficult to make. All I need to get is some acetate (clear plastic) for the chocolate collar and I'd already planned my own twist on it to make a cappucino cake instead of the boring vanilla one in the book. My SMIL's favourite cake flavour is coffee so I thought I was on to a winner.
Oh my goodness. Cue Melissa and me traipsing around Brighton on a wild goose chase to try and find some acetate for the chocolate collar. We went from cake shops to homeware shops to decorating shops to stationers until several shops later we found Clarkes Stationers in the Lanes and the only piece of acetate big enough to wrap round the cake cost nearly £10. I was gobsmacked. That's probably twice the cost of the ingredients! Still, knowing that I could use it again and rather than rethink the whole cake I bit the bullet and bought it.
Baking the coffee cake was straightforward (thanks Delia - the all in one method never fails) and the buttercream was fine too, the addition of coffee was a good one and will go really well with the cake.
As for the chocolate collar, you cut a strip of acetate long enough to fit round the cake, pipe on dots of melted white chocolate, leave to set and then cover with melted dark chocolate before wrapping round the cake. Seemed easy enough to me. Well, piping the dots was fine, but when I smoothed over the dark chocolate it melted the dots and a lot of them smeared. I was gutted. With no chocolate left to make another one I put the collar round the cake and it prayed that it would set. Luckily this part went pretty well and it didn't crack when I pulled the plastic off so I was quite pleased about that.
And so here it is (with the worst smears facing away from the camera!):
Although the chocolate collar caused me a bit of trouble, overall the cake still turned out well and my Sweet Mother-In-Law was thrilled with it. Next time I think it would be a good idea to freeze the dots before covering with the dark chocolate so they don't melt so easily. Smeary spots or not, it still tasted really good and that's what really counts.