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Lots of advice needed for making my daughter's birthday cake! A few questions...

(13 Posts)
Katnisscupcake Mon 15-Apr-13 16:21:23

I am a keen baker but so far have only made batches and batches of lovely cupcakes but I need to make a normal round cake for my DD's birthday.

I am modelling the characters as I've done several before so that's not the problem and I am actually doing a 'Basic Cake Decorating Course' the week before her birthday to learn how to properly crumb, level and cover a cake aswell as putting on some simple decorations.

But my question is about what type of cake to do. I normally do a standard victoria sandwich cake mix and adapt it if I want different flavours. The cakes are always very light and tasty (apparently...) but I guess I would need something a bit more dense like a madeira if I am going to be covering and decorating it. Particularly as a couple of the small characters will be on the cake (the rest on the cake board).

So, a couple of questions:

- Is a Madeira the best choice?
- I know someone who puts sugar syrup on her cake to keep it moist, is that a good idea or not necessary?
- Most importantly, DD's party is on the Sunday but we are away on the Friday and Saturday (until mid-afternoon), so can I make it on the Thursday night and wrap it in cling-film to decorate on the Saturday evening and serve on the Sunday, or will it not be nice by then? When I make a Lemon Madeira, it is normally still really soft and moist after 3 days... If that isn't advised, I will have to make it and decorate it when I get back on the Saturday which could be really rushed and mean a really late night...

All help and advice, gratefully received!!

recall Mon 15-Apr-13 16:23:51

can't help you, but watching with interest as I too have to make a proper birthday cake for Saturday. I plan to make 2, one to look at, and one to pre cut up and put into the goody bags to try and reduce the stress on the day.

balancingfigure Mon 15-Apr-13 16:43:35

What I did this year and would probably work with your timings was make sponges (I needed several to build a castle) and then freeze them. Then assemble cake the day before with frozen sponges - easier to ice with butter cream. I was really surprised how good cake tasted - you could not tell it had been frozen.

But I agree you need something a bit denser than a Victoria sponge. I use a Primose Bakery recipe for 'vanilla layer cake'.

Katnisscupcake Mon 15-Apr-13 19:34:38

Balancing, thank you for that. I think I have the primrose bakery cupcake book and the layer cake recipes are in the back so I will give one a try at the weekend. Thank you! A bit nervous about freezing it but I will give it a go...

Moomoomie Mon 15-Apr-13 19:41:22

I find this cake very good, very easy to ice and very tasty

Katnisscupcake Mon 15-Apr-13 20:13:56

Moomoomie, that recipe looks fab aswell, I will try that one aswell. I am assuming that you keep it as one cake until you are ready to decorate it? Then you cut it in half and fill it before you cover it?

highlandbird Mon 15-Apr-13 20:22:02

I recently made a birthday cake for DS first time I had done this as well! I made two Madeira cakes on the Thursday eve then decorated them on Saturday evening for the Sunday, kept in airtight tin until then and were absolutely fine. In fact got lots of compliments on cake and I'd never made a Madeira before but been advised they keep better and easier to decorate.
Although the freezing idea sounds a good one as well, good luck!

Moomoomie Tue 16-Apr-13 07:32:42

Yes, store it as one piece until you want to split and decorate it.
I have made it a fair few times know and it always turns out well.
I don't always use the syrup that you are meant to soak in after baking, but it does taste better with.

fuckwittery Tue 16-Apr-13 07:37:47

I've just made dd1s birthday cake with Victoria sponge and it was far too light, a corner crumbled off and the first layer of buttercream was covered in crumbs. I did save it by doing a crumb coat, popped it in the freezer for an hour after the first layer and recosted and it wasn't too bad, but it was a huge hassle. Definitely bookmarking that link for dd2 birthday next month!

Clueless2727 Tue 16-Apr-13 16:14:45

The james martin madeira cake recipe on bbc site is delicious and worked really well for giant cupcake recipe i made last week. Must easier to ice than normal sponge mix, was lovely, but sponge did seem dense when making but have confidence turned out well in end. I do sometimes put sugar syrup in cupcakes. If you eat them quickly they do make cakes moist but after few days the syrup leaks out and makes the cakes sticky so depends when the cake will be eaten. Wnjt need to do this with above recipe.

Katnisscupcake Mon 29-Apr-13 14:54:47

Well, I've used that link to make two attempts at the cake but neither of them really worked for me. sad

I tried the first one with the sugar syrup and found it really soggy (although I know that I didn't beat the cake enough so I think it was a bit too stodgy anyway), but the second time I did it without the syrup and initially it seemed Ok, but once it's cool and needs decorating, I find the base that sits on the plate, goes really soggy over a day or so. Even though it's well covered.

So I'm going to give the James Martin recipe a go. I've made that before and added loads of lemon juice and it's gorgeous. I will try it with my vanilla bean paste instead of lemon juice to see if it works.

bacon Mon 29-Apr-13 19:50:44

No you dont have to use a maderia I use the BBC Good food easy vanilla cake and its perfect for covering. Yes a victoria is hard to cut hence it not ideal but you can use other cakes - I always revert back to a rich chocolate cake (has to be made with real chocolate) or the vanilla cake.

Any cake that has almonds in it helps keep moist but "my" rule of thumb a cake needs to contain cream or yoghurt to keep moist and delicious. Look up wedding cake recipes this is also good for any celebration cake. A proper chocolate cake will keep very well.

I was shown at Squires cake course to brush the syrup on. Once you have popped at layer of buttercream or granche on plus the icing this will keep in the moisture.

stealthsquiggle Tue 30-Apr-13 23:07:19

I would make and decorated and then leave it - cake keeps fine once sealed in icing.

I use Nigella's buttermilk birthday cake as default 'plain' cake recipe - much nicer than madeira.

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