I’m pretty hopeless when it comes to children. I’ve never grown up with a burning desire to become a wife and a mother. My parents spent more time pressuring me to go to university and study than teach me how to keep a house and tend to babies.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am not a hater of children. I want to have children of my own in the future. I’m just not the first person in the room to leap out of their seat when a baby enters the room.
In fact, the desire to have children of my own only sprung up when I met Pizzaboy. He was so cute and wonderful. I decided that I would one day need to produce more little joys like him. (My apologies if that sounds a bit too gross).
I become really confused when I receive Baby Shower invitations. Firstly, I don’t have any clue as to what a new born would need. Secondly, I am deeply surprised that I am invited, being an obvious non-baby person. Lastly, I was brought up not to expect gifts from people, throwing parties to specifically receive gifts seems obnoxious to me.
When my beautiful friend from high school invited me to her newborns party I was left twiddling my fingers as to what I should bring.
What do you give people who seem to have everything?
So, I did what I only knew how to do. I baked them a cake. I made Rose Levy Beranbaum’s famous White Velvet Cake. Layered it with strawberry jam and covered it with her fantastic Neoclassic Buttercream. I then popped a sterilized rubber duckie on top. (I was too lazy to mould one from scratch).
It turned out to be a hit. One of the guests remarked, “Why do we need bakeries when we can make cakes like this at home?”
Recipe adapted from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum
Ingredients for the cake
3 large eggwhites, at room temperature
2/3 cup full cream milk, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1 cup caster sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/ Butter a 9 by 2 inch round cake pan, top with a parchment round and then coat with baking spray and flour.
2/ Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Set the oven rack in the lower third of the oven.
3/ In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites, 3 tablespoons of the milk, and the vanilla just until lightly combined.
4/ In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 90 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5/ Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture to the batter in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a large silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly with a small offset spatula.
6/ Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown, a wire cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean, and the cake springs bake when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.
7/ Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake, pressing firmly against the pan, and invert the cake into a wire rack that has been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray. To prevent splitting, reinvert the cake so that the top side is up. Cool completely.
Ingredients for buttercream
3 large egg yolks
75g caster sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
1 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/ Have ready a 1-cup heatproof glass measure, lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray.
2/ In a medium bowl, with a handheld mixer, beat the yolks until light in color. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, preferably nonstick, combine the sugar, golden syrup, and lemon juice. Using a silicone spatula, stir until all the sugar is moistened. Heat over medium-high, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup begins to boil around the edges. Stop stirring and continue cooking for a few minutes, until the syrup comes to a rolling boil. (The entire surface will be covered with large bubbles.) Immediately transfer the syrup to the glass measure to stop the cooking.
3/ If using a handheld mixer, beat the syrup into the yolks in a steady stream. Don’t allow the syrup to fall on the beaters or the beaters will spin it onto the sides of the bowl. If using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, with the mixer turned off, pour a small amount of syrup over the yolks. Immediately beat on high speed for 5 seconds. Stop the mixer and add a larger amount of syrup. Beat on high speed for 5 seconds. Continue with the remaining syrup. For the last addition, use a silicone spatula to remove the syrup clinging to the glass measure and scrape it off against the beater. Continue beating for 5 minutes. Then allow it to cool completely. To speed cooling, place the bowl in an ice water bath or in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.
4/ When cool, beat in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time on medium speed. The buttercream will not thicken until almost all of the butter has been added.
5/ Place the buttercream in an airtight bowl. Use it at once (it will have a slight crunch until it stands for several hours) or up to 4 hours later. If you are keeping it longer, refrigerate it and bring it to room temperature before using. To restore its texture, rebeat it, but not until it has reached room temperature, in order to avoid curdling.
Composing the cake
When the cake is completely cool, spread a little buttercream on a 9-inch cardboard round or serving plate and set the cake on top. If using the plate, slide a few wide strips of wax paper or parchment under the cake to keep the rim of the plate clean. Frost the top and sides with swirls of buttercream. If using the paper strips, slowly slide them out from under the cake.