Friday, 29 July 2011

Chocolate Thank You Cake

This Tuesday I really felt like we made it.  The first official day as Brighton Bakery.  The reason being that we had our first commission from someone we didn't know. 

When the phone rang, I was completely caught off guard, I didn't have any prices to hand, but I was so pleased to get the order I agreed to do it for less than I should have charged.  And to top it off, she needed the cake in just two days time.  I was due to be working in London on that day so I made it even harder on myself by saying I would deliver it on Wednesday evening instead.  I had my work cut out but I was determined to do it.

The cake was fairly simple - a 10 inch vanilla cake iced with chocolate buttercream, with a piped message and some handmade sugarpaste roses.  I prefer to cover cakes with sugarpaste rather than buttercream as it gives a better finish, but as they say the customer is always right so I had my first brief to work to.  Just a quick trip to the shops to buy the ingredients and I was good to go.

I used my trusty madeira cake recipe and enhanced the flavour by substituting a tablespoon of the milk for vanilla extract.  Luckily I still had time to make this and leave it overnight to settle ready for filling and icing.

The following morning I started off by making roses out of red modelling paste (I'll do another blog soon showing how I make these):

Annoyingly, I didn't have a tried and tested chocolate buttercream recipe and didn't feel like the one in my book that uses cocoa powder would produce a high enough quality flavour.  I found one on the internet that had rave reviews, but as it contained raw egg I didn't want to risk it.  The one I plumped for was a traditional buttercream with a generous helping of chocolate ganache mixed through.  Delicious.

As with most of my cakes, I levelled the top, then flipped it over and secured it to the cake board with a smear of buttercream.  I was feeling brave and cut it horizontally into 3 even layers and smothered each with the luscious buttercream as I rebuilt the cake. I covered it with a thin 'crumb layer' of buttercream on the top and sides of the cake and put in the fridge to set.  This way, when I did the final layer of buttercream it wouldn't be spoilt by any stray crumbs.

I did the final layer of buttercream on the top and sides and did my very best to make it even, smoothing it out with a palette knife dipped in hot water.  It is so hard to get a good finish using buttercream (if anyone has any tips please let me know!) but I reached the point that I had to stop as I would start making it worse.  Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to get right - if it had a design on top it could have covered any slight mistakes.  But I was working to the customer's brief so I made it exactly how she had specified.  I finished off the cake with a piped pearl edge around the bottom:

After about half an hour of practising my piping technique I had the confidence to pipe the message with plain buttercream on top of the cake.  I then added my sugarpaste roses and the cake was done:

I delivered the cake just a couple of hours later and the customer seemed very pleased, which is all I can ask for.  Let's hope she tells all her friends and the orders start to roll in :o)

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