As you may have already guessed, I’m one of those people who loves nothing more than spending a whole day in the kitchen. But here’s the clincher: baking a cake really isn’t my bag. To me, the joy in cooking comes from being a little ad-lib, throwing caution to the wind and adding your own personal flair to a recipe. Unfortunately, in the case of cake baking, not following a recipe can lead to disaster.
Recently I put my hand up to create a friend’s birthday cake which was the perfect opportunity to show y’all how to take a grocery store cake and turn it into a mini masterpiece.
You will need:
- 1 buttercream cake or vanilla sponge cake, frosted*
- Butter cream frosting (I used half of a 300g packet Queen Butter Cream Icing and had plenty to spare)**
- 3 macarons
- 6 strawberries, tops trimmed and thinly sliced into half centimetre pieces
- 3 cherries
- 6 blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries (whatever’s in season)
- 1 unsprayed pink rose, stem trimmed to 3cm (or any other edible flowers)
- Icing flowers, baubles or any other fun cake decorating bits you love
- Pink food colouring
* If you can’t find a pre-frosted cake you will need 300ml Whipping cream (pure cream 54% fat)
** The packet buttermilk frosting I used required milk and vanilla extract
Remove the cake from its packet and place on your serving plate. If you have a cake decorating turntable (or a lazy Susan) place your serving plate on top of this.
Prepare your fruit and decorating pieces and have everything ready on your kitchen countertop.
If your cake isn’t already frosted whip your fresh cream using a stand mixer, an electric hand mixer, or with a whisk and some good ol’ fashioned muscle power. Whisk your cream in a large bowl until it forms firm peaks (the cream should hold its peaks but the tips are slightly softened). Refrigerate until required.
Prepare the buttercream frosting as per the packet’s instructions and check the consistency. For my cake I went for the “colour drip cake” effect. For this effect you’ll need the frosting to be thinner than usual so gradually add cold milk to the frosting until it gently pools in the bottom of the mixing bowl. Carefully add one drop of pink food colouring at a time to the frosting at a time, stir well and check for desired hue. I wanted the colour of my frosting to be a very pale pink so I only needed one drop.
And now it’s time to put all of the pieces together! Spoon the whipped cream onto the top of the cake, and using a spatula carefully start to work the cream down the sides of the cake, spreading the cream around the sides and onto the top of the cake into an even layer.
Arrange the sliced strawberries around the base of the cake, cut side down.
Working with a few generous spoonfuls at a time, pour your frosting onto the top of the cake and using the back of a spoon glide the frosting to the edges, allowing it to run down the side of the cake.
Once you’ve achieved the desired effect with the “drips”, arrange your berries, macarons and flowers onto of the cake. Tip: I arranged my decorations on a white round plate first, photographed the arrangement with my phone, then referenced the photograph when working with the cake.
And that, my friend, is your cheat’s guide to decorating a grocery store cake!