While Bake Off fever might have calmed down somewhat now, I know those bakers of you out there are still holding a torch and thinking about your next venture into all things cake.
I’m no expert baker to say the least, but I’m keen – as an eater and creator. So when House of Fraser sent me some lovely tools to equip me properly, and my lovely friend Nicola who runs The Pretty Sugar Cake Company in Ripponden agreed to teach me the ropes, I saw my chance to actually be able to bake an impressive cake and learn a new (and let’s face it, vital) skill.
My baking lesson
Having tried Nicola’s blueberry and lemon drizzle cake before, I knew this was the kind of ‘wow’ cake I’ve been aiming to try. But what’s great was that learning the basics with tips and encouragement throughout the whole process means I can now adapt the recipe and techniques to any other kind of flavour sponge cake.
House of Fraser has been inspired by the Great British Bake Off wave and has created bakeware sets. For my baking lesson I used their non-slip mixing bowls, cake tins and rather snazzy apron and oven gloves, which were perfectly padded and up to the job. Now I’m a master baker, I’ll also be trying out the cupcake kit very soon!
Make your own blueberry and lemon drizzle cake using The Pretty Sugar Cake Company’s recipe below. The trick to a lovely moist sponge, Nicola revealed, was to pour a syrup over the cake before you use buttercream. Good tip.
For the sponges
8oz soft butter
8oz caster sugar
8oz self raising flour
4 medium eggs
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 2 lemons
For the lemon drizzle syrup
4 tbsp caster sugar
4 tbsp water
Juice of 2 lemons
For the lemon buttercream
12oz icing sugar
4 tbsp lemon curd
- Split between two or three 7” sandwich tins.
- Bake at 170 (fan) for approximately 30 mins.
- The buttercream quantity is enough to fill and cover the cake, but you could use blueberry jam or lemon curd to fill instead.
- Beat butter and sugar until pale using an electric handheld mixer, if possible.
- Add eggs one at a time and beat.
- Sieve flour and fold in gently with a spoon.
- Stir in the zest and juice of lemons until mixed. Don’t beat too much!
- Divide the mixture between tins.
- Sprinkle blueberries on top.
- Bake at 170 (fan) for approximately 30 minutes. It should be springy in the centre to touch when done.
Make the syrup
1. Put sugar and water in a pan.
2. Heat on low until the sugar dissolves, then increase heat and boil rapidly for 1 minute.
3. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice.
4. Leave to cool slightly.
5. When cakes are cooked remove from the oven and pour the syrup over each one.
6. Leave in tins for 10 minutes for the syrup to soak in, then turn out onto a baking rack to cool.
Make the buttercream
1. Sieve the icing sugar
2. Beat the butter and icing sugar until pale (make sure the butter is soft or the icing sugar will go everywhere!)
3. Add lemon curd and beat together
4. Add lemon juice – just enough for the consistency to be soft enough to spread over the cake.
Finishing the cake
1. When the sponges are completely cold, spread the butter cream between each layer and sandwich together (be careful not to use a ‘spreading’ motion which may pull up the sponge – instead ‘push’ the cream to the outer edges gently using a knife.)
2. Put it in the fridge for 20 minutes until it has firmed a little.
3. Spread the buttercream over the top and sides of the cake with a palette knife in any desired fashion!
Serves 12 (depending on your size of slice!)
Thank you to House of Fraser for supplying my wonderful baking kit for this post, and to Nicola at The Pretty Sugar Cake Company, which is a Yorkshire-based business which creates bespoke and elegant celebration and wedding cakes, for her recipe and excellent lesson!