A few weeks ago we had a baking competition at work. They called it The Great Charity Bake Off, and it was in aid of Action for Kids.
A fun and yet nerve wracking time was had by all, and I think the sales of sugar, flour, carrots (4 carrot cakes in all) and vanilla tripled in the weeks leading up to it.
There were some absolutely stunning entries, 17 in all, and the judging was to be 80% taste and 20% appearance, which gave the more cack handed amongst us *cough* at least a little bit of hope. Flavours I can do, decoration not so much. Certainly not when I've got to bake the cake, then transport the layers, and then decorate it at work in the 30 minutes before I leave work to go home again.
To be honest, I'd even considered pulling out as the competition was on a Thursday, and I was away for the whole of the weekend, and away again on the Tuesday and Wednesday nights, but no. I just spent my Monday night baking the layers and trying to work out how to pack them.
By chance, I spotted a cake that Lisa Marley from The Cocoa Box had posted about and it sounded so good that I had to give it a try. She very kindly sent me the recipe, and it's a stunner.
We had to name our cakes, but they couldn't have our name on, and as my name is Lisa that was tricky, so then Marley's Cake it became!
I did have to tweak it, as I ran out of time, and caster sugar (how is that even possible?!) and I had some ingredients that I wanted to add as well, but it was still very, very good indeed. (The taste, not the decoration!)
Lemon Meringue or Marley's Cake
Grease and line the bottom of 3 x 20cm cake tins. I'd grease and flour the sides, too.
Pre heat the oven to 160C.
100g (4oz) salted butter, plus extra for greasing
150g (6oz) dark muscovado sugar
130g (5oz) light muscovado sugar (I whirled these in the food processor to get them a little more fine)
300g (10oz) self raising flour
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 large eggs, beaten
130g (5oz) good-quality white chocolate, melted
100ml (7fl oz) full-fat milk, slightly warmed
Lisa Marley's original soaking syrup:
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
My soaking syrup was some syrup I had left over from when I candied some blood oranges, all dark citrus and cinnamon scented.
500g Betty Crocker vanilla buttercream (I had 2 x 400g tubs, so had half the 2nd tub left over)
3 tbs lemon curd
50g good white chocolate, melted
Yellow gel food colouring
One jar of Waitrose lemon curd
Mini meringues bought from Waitrose
Pre-heat oven 200°C/180°Fan/Gas 6
Cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. With the two brown sugars, it takes a while longer than with white caster.
Slowly add the eggs, and whisk again, then add the spice and extract.
Sieve the flour, bicarbonate and combine
Gently mix in the melted chocolate until combined
Add the milk and gently mix (original recipe called for 200ml but I stopped after 100ml as the batter was very liquid so my eggs may have been larger than usual.
Pour into the three cake tins and bake for 20/25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool.
(I wrapped them when cool, and transported them to work in a big old cake tin.)
Brush each of the three cake layers with the soaking syrup.
Mix three good tablespoons of lemon curd into the buttercream, then stir in 50g melted white chocolate.
Mix well, and then try not to dive FACE FIRST into the bowl.
Spread a little lemon curd on the first cake, then dollop on some buttercream. Try not to dive FACE FIRST into the bowl.
Place the next cake on top, and repeat, then put the last cake on top. Mine started to slide!
Add some yellow gel food coloring to the rest of the buttercream (see again FACE FIRST etc.,) and combine.
A professional would do this next bit:
Fill a piping bag half way with the yellow and then add the remaining white buttercream so the bag is full.
Start at the bottom of the cake and pipe with the yellow buttercream until the white starts to come through. Continue upwards and cover the whole cake.
Use a hot palette knife ( dipped in boiling water) to smooth the icing.
I am not a professional anything, so I just covered the whole cake as best I could. Crumb layer went well, but I had to time to fridge the cake so the next lot of buttercream just went on (FACE).
I smoothed it all badly with a borrowed spatula, decorated it with the mini meringues and gold sprinkles because GOLD SPRINKLES and then put it in the fridge overnight to set.
The next day it was still there, and with no fingermarks in it either!
It was a great success. Every piece sold. I didn't win, this one came first (I didn't get a chance to try this one, but it was a carrot cake so I wish I had!)
I loved how mine tasted and I will definitely make it again when I've got more than 30 minutes!
Huge thanks to Lisa Marley for the recipe. I'm extremely grateful. Even though my one isn't the same!