Baking is a science. It’s the process of combining exact quantities of ingredients in a certain way to undergo chemical reactions in the oven. A slight deviation in the quantity of ingredients could drastically alter the outcome of your bake. But is it possible to make a cake without weighing or measuring a single ingredient? I decided to find out.
This idea came about because I forgot to bring my digital scales with me to uni and I still wanted to bake. Now that I have acquired a set of scales, I thought that I could track how accurate my weighing/guessing was by checking the weight of the ingredients that went into the sponge – and for clarity, this was the sole purpose of the scales, to show you and myself whether in my 9 years of baking, I knew what 225g of sugar looked like!
I vlogged the process of making and assembling this cake and you can watch the video here! Find out how I got on with the weighing too!
Continue reading to see the full recipe and method!
I decorated the cake in a semi-naked style. Semi-naked cakes have grown in popularity in recent years, demonstrating skill with buttercream and an eye for artistry. Elegant in its sleek and straight design, the semi naked cake has a thin layer of buttercream around the outside of the cake filling in any gaps between layers, exposing just a small amount of the edge of the sponge, tempting you in and creating an attractive neat finish.
The buttercream for your semi-naked cake needs to be softer than your standard cake in order for it to become smooth without dragging cake crumbs into the frosting which would ruin the look. Using a straight-edged tool such as a dough scraper will help you achieve the crisp straight edges of your semi-naked cake. I was actively reading Becky’s post on making a naked cake and it was so helpful – check it out here!!
For the sponge:
225g granulated sugar
225g self raising flour
1 tbsp milk
For the filling:
150g strawberry jam
1 tsp boiling water
For the buttercream:
175g margarine or soft unsalted butter
380g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Purple food colouring
Pearl sprinkles, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line the bases of 3 x 18cm sandwich tins. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the margarine with the granulated sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one, scraping down the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Add in the self raising flour and fold through until incorporated. Then beat in the tablespoon of milk until mixed through.
Divide the cake mixture evenly between the 3 tins and level out the surface. Bake the cakes for around 16 – 18 minutes until the cakes are golden brown, risen and spring back when touched lightly. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool fully.
In a small bowl, mix together the jam with the water to loosen slightly. For the buttercream, beat the margarine or unsalted butter for a minute to soften. Add in the icing sugar in 2 batches, beating well until it is light, even and spreadable. Add in the vanilla extract and a tiny amount of purple food colouring to make the buttercream paler.
Level off the tops of all 3 sponges. Place the first sponge layer on your serving board or cake stand and spread over a third of the jam. Take about a quarter of the buttercream and spread over the jam, being careful not to mix the two together. Leave a 1cm border around the edge.
Place the next sponge layer on top, pushing down lightly and repeat the filling process for the next layer, topping with the final sponge. Take the remaining buttercream and cover the tops and sides with buttercream, starting with the sides and filling in any gaps between the layers.
Spread the buttercream around the sides and working in the same direction, take a dough scraper and run the edge around the sides of the cake multiple times to create the smooth polished sides of a semi-naked cake. You want the sponge layers to be peeping through the thin buttercream layer and then to smooth out the top as much as possible (but this is going to be covered in jam). Transfer the remaining buttercream to a piping bag.
Pipe a border of small dots of buttercream around the top edge of the cake. Use the pearl sprinkles to create a repeated pattern inside of the dots. Then create a hexagonal pattern in the very centre of the cake. Flood the remaining exposed buttercream with the leftover jam.
Lastly finish the cake with a few drop ribbons. Touch the end of the bag underneath one buttercream dot and exert pressure on the bag to release buttercream. Continue to exert pressure and as the buttercream comes out, move backwards and along in a semi-circle motion and attaching the buttercream to underneath 4 or 5 dots along the cake and releasing the pressure. The buttercream should naturally drape in an arc and be suspended.
Leave the cake to ‘set’ at room temperature for about an hour before chilling for another hour and then slicing and serving.