A few weeks ago we celebrated Munchkin’s first birthday with two splendid parties. For the first I made a Miffy themed birthday cake and for the second, we went with a fresh flowers and bees theme. For each cake, I made up a gluten-free vanilla butter-cake with a swiss meringue buttercream. Once you taste Swiss meringue buttercream, no frosting will ever taste as good! It’s silky smooth and, due to the addition of the egg white, is not as heavy or sweet as a traditional buttercream frosting.
I figured, if Munchkin was going to have her first cake, it should be a good one!
For the bee themed party, I made a naked cake decorated with a wild array of flowers. All designed to be perfectly imperfect! This went against the grain a little, as I love a perfect, smooth finish. At one point, just as the urge to ‘fix’ the cake became overwhelming, my husband took it away from me and demanded I not touch it again! At the time, I found this extremely frustrating. But looking back at the photos, I love it. It was just what I wanted.
I made up a whole heap of little bees with modelling chocolate and put them on floristry wire, then nestled them in amongst the cake and the flower arrangements.
To arrange the flowers, I wrapped each stem in multiple layers of floristry tape and pushed them into a 1cm thick disk of modelling chocolate that was set on top of the frosted cake.
Then, I added on simple little white candle. And it was finished! I adore the result. What do you think?
BASIC BUTTER CAKE
For Munchkin’s birthday cake, I made three batches of the butter cake (and the swiss meringue buttercream). One for each tier, and baked it in a 28cm diameter tin.
- 125 grams of unsalted butter
- 150 grams of caster sugar
- 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla essence
- 2 eggs
- 210 grams of Schar Patisserie mix C or your preferred gluten-free flour mix
- 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 130 ml of milk
- Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Lightly butter and flour baking tin.
- Cream butter, sugar and until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs one at at time, beating well after each.
- Add sifted flour alternatively with milk until just combined.
- Spread into a prepared pan. This quantity fills: 2x 18cm shallow cake pans or one deep.
- When skewer comes out of cake clean, it’s cooked (approximately 40 minutes). If you’re cooking your cake in a thin layer like I did, it will only take about 12 minutes.
- Allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning out on wire rack to cool completely.
SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
- 3 large egg whites
- 150 grams of caster sugar
- pinch of salt
- 260 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
- Place egg whites, sugar and a pinch of salt into a heat proof bowl and place it over a saucepan of simmering water. Ensure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Whisk the mixture over the simmering water until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot to the touch.
- Remove the bowl from heat and using an electric mixer, beat until the mixture is cool, fluffy and glossy. At this point your mixture should be able to form stiff peaks. This takes about 10 minutes.
- Add the butter a few tablespoons at a time. Mixing well after each addition until all of the butter has been added and your buttercream is smooth.