I'm really into making cakes right now...and this one is a special one. It was Mum's birthday today (it was a 'special' one but we won't mention which one) and my brothers and I had organised a surprise birthday meal for her. All well and good, and then I said I'd make a cake, because a shop bought one just wouldn't do.
When Mum and I were in NY last year, on my birthday we had Red Velvet cake, and it was scrumptious. I've made it a few times since we got back, so I decided on a four layer red velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting. The cakes came out beautifully, just popped out of the oven, no trouble at all, and they looked fab. I made the icing and then the trouble started, because you know, (and I didn't at the time) when you try and put four cakes together like a skyscraper with cream cheese frosting in between, then the layers start to move apart like techtonic plates gearing up for a major upheaval. Quite a lot of cursing later we got to stabbing the entire four layers right the way through with skewers, and the layers stayed put.
Now we've got the icing, and when I think of hell now, it involves icing/frosting. No way could I get that stuff to stick to the outside of that cake. It just slid downwards, like a river washing over the cake. There was no way it was going to stay put. I nearly threw the lot through the kitchen window - but seeing as it was New Year's Eve and there were now no shops open to save my life, I took a step back and put the entire lot, cake and all into the fridge. I really couldn't stop myself tinkering every half hour to see if it made any difference, to which the answer was 'not a blind bit'.
I decided I'd add half a ton of icing sugar to the frosting to try and get it to be thicker. It didn't work.
Mark came into the kitchen and he thought I'd turned into the devil.
I went to bed and obsessed all night. Got up at four and somehow managed to get the stuff to stick. Must have been the superglue.
Next morning, never mind feeding the cats, getting dressed or having breakfast, straight off to that fridge to sit and sob in front of it. Got the cake out, didn't drop it. Plastered some icing that was melting off and then....the genius stroke. I'd bought these fab rice paper edible butterflies for this very cake...sprinkled the thing with anything pretty I could find out of my cake decoration drawer...and stuck the butterflies on. Topped off with the pretty candles I'd found in Waitrose...and Mark came down the stairs, saw the cake and said 'wow'.
Life saved. One lovely, lovely cake, only leaning about 30 degrees (like the tower of Pisa) and it got a rapturous recption at the party.
1. Don't be a smarty pants...don't do four layers when you could have done two, you banana.
2. Always anchor the cakes with skewers.
3. Don't make up your own recipe for frosting.
4. Don't make your cake up on New Years Eve for New Years Day.
5. If it can go wrong, it probably will.
6. Always have a back up plan.
7. Always have back up butterflies.