Good Housekeeping Lemon and Coconut Ruffle Cake
I gave up on the Bake Off I’m afraid. I got left behind at the rum nicky tart. It was my son’s birthday and I had to make a dinosaur landscape. Then we went on holiday. I was going to try the Les Misérables and the iced biscuits, I was, but it was my aunt’s birthday. The Les Misérables looked too risky and, although she always claims that she doesn’t like a fuss, I think she’d be a bit underwhelmed by a plate of ginger biscuits.
The dinosaur landscape cake I made for my son turned out really well (I forgot to take a photo). I made a volcano using chocolate and orange buttercream. The buttercream worked so much better than sugarpaste, that I decided to try making my aunt something decorated with it. I didn’t have the time to make a model from sugarpaste that would, inevitably, look ridiculous.
I flicked through my books and couldn’t find anything suitable, so I resorted to Google. It suggested a lemon and coconut ruffle cake from Good Housekeeping Magazine. Their recipes are all triple tested, so there shouldn’t have been any problems.
Step one was to prepared my cake tins. The recipe uses two 8 inch springform tins but I only have one. I used it and two sponge cake tins. I lined the bottoms and greased the sides with cake release.
To make the cake, I beat together softened, unsalted butter and caster sugar. I had a bit of a crisis here. I hadn’t bought any white caster sugar. There was enough golden caster sugar in the cupboard though so I decided to use that. The recipe says that you should beat the mixture for three minutes. Just enough time to empty the dishwasher.
Next I added six eggs to the mixture one at a time. It curdled. I added some flour after each egg. I’m not sure why recipes don’t always tell you to do that. My cake mixes curdle so often I always have to do this. Why not make it a standard step in a recipe? I suppose it’s better if you don’t have curdling. Perhaps adding that bit of flour before all the eggs are in could affect the taste. I don’t know.
Once the eggs were safely combined, I added some vanilla extract. Then I carefully folded in what was left of my flour.
I divided my mixture between my three tins and put them into the oven at 160° fan. The cooking time in the recipe is 35-40 minutes. I checked my cakes after 20 because they were in shallower tins. They were ready at 30. I took them out of the oven, gave them five minutes to cool before I turned them out onto a wire rack. They were all in one piece. So far, so good.
The first step in making the buttercream was to toast some desiccated coconut. I was supposed to toast them in a dry frying pan for between 3 and 5 minutes, until it was golden. The triple tested recipe didn’t tell me the heat level. I was there for a lot longer than 5 minutes waiting for a coconut to toast.
When my coconut had turned golden brown, I put some into the KitchenAid with cream cheese, lemon curd and icing sugar and whisked. I have made my own lemon curd before, using Delia Smith’s recipe. It was lovely, but I was pushed for time with this cake, so I used Sainsbury’s. Once everything was combined I covered it in cling film and left it.
Meringue Buttercream Frosting
So, the first step in making the buttercream was to mix caster sugar with egg white over a pan of boiling water. I didn’t have any white caster sugar did I? I decided to try with the golden caster sugar. Why I don’t know. It was obvious it would turn the frosting brown.
I tipped the mixture away and nipped to the corner shop for some sugar and some more eggs.
I put my white caster sugar and egg whites into a bowl and heated them over a pan of hot water. The recipe says that you should whisk every so often and take the mixture off the heat when the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites feel hot when you dip your finger in. I didn’t really know what I was looking for here. Fairly hot, very hot, burning hot? I’ve since found out that the mixture needs to be at 60°, (thanks to Edd Kimber’s recipe for Swiss meringue buttercream in Patisserie Made Simple).
Anyway, when I took my egg whites off the heat I whisked until they got to the stiff peak stage. It took an awfully long time, and I’m not sure what I ended up with were exactly stiff peaks. I don’t think my eggs were hot enough.
I slowly added unsalted butter, which I’d cut into 2cm cubes. The recipe says not to worry if the mixture looks curdled. If you keep beating, it says, it will come back together. I don’t know how long you’re supposed to keep beating for, but my mixture didn’t want to come back together at all.
Not only did my mixture look curdled, it also looked grey. I added some yellow food colouring. It went a bit greenish. The mixture was still curdled and now it was a murky green. I was going to have to try again.
I needed a cheat here. It was Tuesday morning. My aunt was coming to visit and, as yet, she had no cake. Google suggested that I could use egg white powder, instead of heating the egg whites with the sugar etc. I went with my first hit on Google which was a recipe from Veena Azmanov’s cake decorating blog. I had to tinker with the quantities a bit because I didn’t think I’d need 1kg of icing sugar.
Here’s what I did. I mixed approximately a third of the icing sugar (I used 500g in total) with salt and a sachet of egg white powder (which was about a tablespoon’s worth). Next, I added some whipping cream and beat it in the KitchenAid for 5 minutes. I added the rest of the sugar while the KitchenAid was running and then slowly added butter. Then I added some lemon flavouring and yellow food colouring. I made sure the KitchenAid was at the back of the worktop and cranked it right up. I left it running on high for 5 minutes. At last, I had a decent buttercream which was pale cream rather than murky green.
To assemble the cake, I sandwiched the layers together with the lemon curd buttercream. I was supposed to have four layers. I managed three. The cake in the springform tin hadn’t risen enough to cut in half.
The first step in decorating the cake was the crumb catcher layer. I spread a thin layer of my meringue buttercream over the cake.
Then I piped. It had taken me ages to find a Wilton 104 petal icing nozzle in Leamington Spa. I ended up buying a new piping bag and pack of eight nozzles to get one. I am now overrun with icing nozzles. I’d better improve my cake decorating skills.
The petal nozzle looks like this.
I put it into my piping bag and filled the bag with buttercream.
Starting at the bottom of the cake, with the wide end of the nozzle touching the base, I piped a wiggly line to the top. I continued doing this, until the sides of the cake were covered in wiggly ruffles.
The top of the cake was supposed to be covered with buttercream roses. They were piped onto the top with a Wilton 1M large star nozzle. I had bought a large star nozzle. I’m not sure whether it was a Wilton 1M. It may have been too big, because I didn’t end up with roses. Anyway, I covered the top of the cake with roses/whirls/blobs and scattered the top with the rest of the toasted coconut. Remember the toasted coconut?
Here’s the finished cake.
Was it worth it?
Well, it looked OK. I was pleased with the ruffles and the top wasn’t too bad. If it hadn’t taken my three attempts to get the buttercream right I’d probably say it was worth it. It was a decent birthday cake. Big and bold and pretty tasty. My problem is that, with buttercream covered cakes, if you’ve got any left over you have to keep it in the fridge. If you keep a cake in the fridge it dries out. I’ve been eating dry cake for the past couple of days (my aunt cut a huge piece for me, my husband and the kids). Perhaps I’ll make something smaller next year.