I know, I'm a week behind, but this cake took a while to prepare! The showstopper on this week of bake off was to make a three-layer botanical-themed cake.
As it's just starting to get a bit chilly in England, I thought I'd make a cake to represent the changing of the seasons. The bottom layer is a spiced pumpkin and apricot cake - both ginger and cinnamon are botanicals :)
The middle layer is a rose and vanilla cake, soaked in a rose syrup.
The top layer is my favourite - an orange Tunisian cake - this cake has an orange blossom glaze, making it botanical as well.
The cake is covered with a rose buttercream, icing and fondant rosettes (I know, I make them a lot!)
I also made my own crystallised rose petals - they are insanely easy to make - you just need to make them the day before to allow them time to dry.
The cake tins I used were 12cm (orange Tunisian cake), 17cm (vanilla & rose) and 23cm (spiced pumpkin).
You will also need 8 straws to act as doweling rods - they help to prevent the layers of cake from collapsing.
For the buttercream roses you need a piping bag and a 2D piping nozzle.
For the crystallised flowers:
- 1-2 rose buds - cleaned
- 1 egg white
- 50g caster sugar
For the orange Tunisian cake:
- 20g bread (white or wholemeal work well)
- 100g caster sugar
- 50g ground almonds
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 100ml vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- finely grated zest of one orange
- finely grated zest of one lemon
For the orange blossom syrup:
- 45g granulated sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- juice of one orange
- 1 tsp orange blossom water
For the rose & vanilla cake:
- 175g margarine (or butter)
- 250g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 100g natural yoghurt (I used fat-free and it worked well)
- 250g self raising flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp rose water
For the rose syrup:
- 70g granulated sugar
- 1 tsp rose water
- 50ml water
For the spiced pumpkin cake:
- 300g self raising flour
- 300g light soft brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp allspice
- 175g dried apricots
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 eggs
- 200g margarine or butter, melted
- 500g butternut squash (or pumpkin), grated coarsely
For the buttercream frosting:
- 300g margarine
- 600g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp rose water
For the buttercream roses:
- 150g butter, softened
- 300g icing sugar
- 1/2 tbsp orange juice
- orange food colouring (concentrated gel)
- purple food colouring (concentrated gel)
- 500g fondant icing
Crystallised rose petals
1. Make sure the rose petals are clean and dry.
2. Whisk the egg whites until they have frothed up. Using a pastry brush, gently brush each petal with the egg white on both sides.
3. Dip the petals into the sugar, and tap off any excess sugar. Place onto a sheet of greaseproof paper, and leave until dry. This takes at least 3 hours, and preferably leave them overnight to dry fully.
Tunisian Orange Cake
1. Grease and line the base of a 12cm springform circular cake tin with baking parchment.
2. Blend the bread into fine breadcrumbs. Combine with the ground almonds and baking powder.
3. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, caster sugar, oil and zest of the orange and lemon. Add the dry ingredients (breadcrumbs/almonds/baking powder), and stir in briefly.
4. Pour into the cake tin, and place in a cold oven (do not preheat!).
5. Turn the oven to 150c/140c fan/gas mark 2. Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake is golden on top and springs back when lightly pressed.
6. Towards the end of the cooking time, make the syrup. Place the granulated sugar, orange juice and cinnamon stick in a pan and bring to a simmer. Boil for 2-3 minutes, until reduced slightly.
7. Add the orange blossom water and remove the cinnamon stick.
8. Once the cake is out of the oven, prick the top of the cake all over with a fork or skewer, then pour over the warm syrup.
9. Leave to cool.
Rose and Vanilla Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 160c/140c fan/gas mark 3. Grease and line the base of a 17cm springform circular cake tin with baking parchment.
2. Cream the butter with the caster sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs, yoghurt, vanilla and rose extract, then sift in the flour. Gently fold in.
4. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the cake is golden, and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
5. Towards the end of baking, make the rose syrup by adding the water and granulated water to a pan and bringing it to the boil. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, until it has reduced slightly. Take off the heat and add the rose extract.
6. Once the cake is out of the oven, prick all over the top of the cake with a fork or skewer, then pour over the syrup.
7. Leave to cool.
Spiced Pumpkin cake
1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin.
2. In a large mixing bowl add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and salt. Break up the sugar so that no clumps exist and stir the dry ingredients together.
3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter and eggs. Beat until the wet ingredients are well-incorporated.
4. Add the dried apricots and pumpkin/butternut squash. Fold in until evenly throughout the batter.
5. Pour into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
6. Leave to cool.
1. Pour the icing sugar into a bowl, and add the margarine and rose extract. Beat until smooth and spreadable. Add a little hot water (a teaspoon at a time) if it is too stiff.
2. Use a palette knife the spread buttercream over the top and sides of each cake layer - this is a crumb coating, and will taste great and mean that the icing will stick to the cake.
3. Place each layer in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes.
Icing the cakes
1. Prepare the fondant by kneading it lightly. For my fondant, I marbled the icing through with a little purple and orange food colourings - go wild with whichever colour(s) you'd like :D
2. Divide the fondant - you will need 250g for the bottom layer, 175g for the middle layer, and 75g for the top layer. Roll the fondant icing out to a few mm thickness, so that it can cover the respective cake's top and sides
This works best on a silicon mat, but if you don't own one, clingfilm works well. As to a rolling pin, plastic ones (rather than wooden ones) are vastly superior! If you don't have one, I can really recommend getting one - I bought a small one from Ebay, and it only cost a few pounds :)
3. Drape each piece of fondant over the cake, and gently smooth over. Cut off any excess fondant.
Assembling the cake layers
1. Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake board. Place four straws in the centre of the cake in a square, so that they are equal distant from each other and the edge of the cake. Press down until the straw touches the cake board.
2. Trim the straws so that the top of the straw just pokes out of the top of the cake.
3. Place the middle layer on the middle of the cake. Repeat the placement and trimming of straws.
4. Place the top layer of cake on to the centre of the middle layer.
1. Cream together the butter and icing sugar with the orange juice until it is smooth and thick enough to pipe (practice piping a little onto some greaseproof paper. If it holds it's shape, it's ready. If the mixture is too slack, add more icing sugar. If it is difficult to add, add a little more orange juice a teaspoon at a time.
2. Once the buttercream is the correct consistency, colour it orange using the gel food colouring. This will slacken the mixture slightly.
3. Turn a piping bag inside out, and paint a purple line along the length of the bag. Gently turn the bag back out and place in a 2D piping nozzle.
4. Cut the end off of the bag and fill with the orange buttercream.
1. Pipe roses onto the cake. To pipe a rose, pipe a small blob of icing in the centre of where the rose will be, then pipe around this blob in a spiral. Pipe the roses so that they look to cascade down the cake.
2. Add the crystallised flowers.