Buttercream Rose Cake

Things I learned to do during Baking in the Time of Coronavirus: Make buttercream roses. My decorating skills are limited at best; I can tint frosting and make some pretty basic designs, but until this cake I hadn’t used a flower nail before. I watched this tutorial from Wilton before I got started, and while my roses are much flatter than the ones in the video, they turned out pretty well.

I used buttercream frosting with a medium consistency, and I’d recommend going with a thicker consistency next time for flowers that aren’t quite as flat. This cake is for my mom’s belated birthday celebration – she turned 74 this past week – and we’re having her over for dinner this evening. She won’t likely eat the buttercream flowers (Genny is a woman who prefers cake to frosting), but this was great practice.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 8 ounces (1 cup) butter, at room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 8 ounces superfine sugar*
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces self-rising flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

For the frosting

  • 1 1/4 cups butter, at room temperature
  • 4 – 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons almond extract
  • Yellow, red, pink, and green food coloring

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans with butter, then line each with a circle of parchment.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until combined; add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in flour and baking powder.

Divide batter evenly between the two cake pans, leveling the tops with a spatula. Bake for 18-20 minutes, then check to see if cakes are done; they will be light golden brown on top, have pulled away from the sides of the pan, and will spring back when pressed lightly.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans for 5 minutes; run a butter knife around the edge of each cake and turn onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat butter with your paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes, until fluffy. Add 3 cups powdered sugar and beat on low until the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter. Add vanilla and almond extracts and beat to combine, then add another cup of powdered sugar; you’ll want a medium buttercream consistency that isn’t too stiff, but will hold its shape when you pipe the flowers.

Frost the top and sides of the cake with white, then divide your remaining frosting into two portions, with one portion much smaller than the other for your leaves. Tint the remaining white frosting yellow; I tinted my frosting using the same base color of yellow for the peach and salmon-colored flowers.

Fit a piping bag with a coupler and a plain tip; affix a parchment square to your flower nail with just a bit of frosting. Pipe a cone shape into the center of the nail, then switch tips to your Wilton 104 petal tip. You want the broader end of the tip to be toward the bottom as you pipe; pipe petals, turning your flower nail as necessary. When you’ve reached your desired size, slide the parchment off the nail and place it on a baking sheet. Once all of your flowers are piped, chill them until they’re firm.

To tint my frosting, I used the following color ratios:

Pale yellow – 2 drops yellow liquid food coloring

Peach – 1 drop red and 3 drops yellow liquid food coloring into the existing yellow

Salmon – 1 drop pink gel food coloring into the existing peach

Once the flowers are firm, place them on the cake in your desired arrangement; I also used a bit of buttercream to stick them to the surface of the cake. Tint the remainder of your frosting green; using the Wilton 352 leaf tip, pipe leaves next to your flowers.

Store at room temperature in an airtight cake caddy or cake stand for 2-3 days.

Makes about 10 servings.

Victoria Sponge

What better way to celebrate the royal wedding than with a traditional English dessert? I’ve wanted to bake a Victoria sponge for a while now, and yesterday’s Harry-and-Meghan-extravaganza presented the perfect opportunity.

Victoria sponge, also called a Victoria sandwich or Victorian cake, was named for long-reigning British monarch Queen Victoria. This simple cake is an absolutely delicious treat; two layers of cake filled with raspberry jam and whipped cream. The cakes themselves are very easy to make, requiring only butter, sugar, eggs, self-rising flour, and baking powder; no extracts of any kind. You might wonder if they’ll turn out bland, but trust me, they don’t. The tart raspberry jam and sweet whipped cream go a long way to complement the cakes, which are a bit like pound cake. This recipe is adapted from Mary Berry’s Victoria sandwich from BBC Food; I measured all of my ingredients by weight for the cakes, rather than volume, to ensure that my ratios were correct.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (1 cup) butter, at room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 8 ounces superfine sugar*
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces self-rising flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup raspberry jam
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

*To make superfine sugar, place regular granulated sugar in a food processor and pulse to a fine consistency, like sand. 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans with butter, then line each with a circle of parchment.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until combined; add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in flour and baking powder.

Divide batter evenly between the two cake pans, leveling the tops with a spatula. Bake for 20 minutes, then check to see if cakes are done; they will be golden brown on top, have pulled away from the sides of the pan, and will spring back when pressed lightly.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans for 5 minutes; run a butter knife around the edge of each cake and turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Once cakes are cool, place one layer on a cake plate (handling very gently using a large spatula – my cake cracked easily when I started to move it). Top with raspberry jam.

To prepare whipped cream, place cream and powdered sugar in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip at high speed for a few minutes, until soft peaks form. Be careful not to over-whip your cream, or you’ll end up with butter!

Drop whipped cream in dollops over the jam and gently spread to cover the whole surface. Top with remaining layer of cake; dust the top with powdered sugar if desired. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Most recipes note that Victoria sponge is best eaten within about 12 hours after it’s made.