Thursday, 5 June 2014

Citrus Celebration Cake

I wanted to make a cake that was summery looking and fresh tasting, but which didn’t necessarily include soft fruits such as raspberries or strawberries, much as I love them. The obvious choice seemed to be citrus. Now… I think it is well established at this stage that I love lemon cakes, but even I felt that I really didn’t want to bake yet another lemon cake! My problem was that I had a bit of a yearning for something citrus-flavoured and was also in the mood for a spot of cake decorating, but didn’t want to make anything too complicated.

I had oranges and lemons in the fruit bowl and was going to make a ‘St. Clement’s Cake’ but feeling brave I decided that I would also include the flavour of lime.

The flavours of lemon and lime combine well together, as do lemon and orange and can be intermingled successfully. I felt that making a cake where all three flavours were included together in the batter would result in a cake that was confusing on the taste buds, so I opted to create three distinct layers, each devoted to one of the chosen citrus fruits.

The cake batter was based on the one that I use when making a classic Victoria Sponge Cake, but I added the finely grated zest of one of the fruits to each individual layer. I then sandwiched each of the cooled cake layers together with some buttercream icing.

This was a relatively easy cake to make and the respective flavours came together well, yet remained distinct from each other, sop in that sense I was delighted with the result. In my opinion, the cake also looks very cheery and inviting to eat. In the photographs accompanying this post you will see that I went a little mad with the piping bag and some orange coloured glace icing and that I decided to decorate the cake with ‘squiggles’. This is of course, not necessary, but I will admit that it was fun to do! 


Cake layers:
200g butter, softened
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
200g self-raising flour, sifted

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
Finely grated zest of 2 limes
A drop each of orange, yellow and pale green natural food colourings
100g butter, softened
250g icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon lemon juice


Cake layers:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160c/Gas Mark 4. Using non-stick baking parchment, base-line three 15cm round sandwich tins with removable bases and set aside.
2. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer, beat together until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the eggs, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and fold in with a large metal spoon.
3. Divide the cake batter evenly between three medium-sized bowls. Into one of the bowls of batter mix the finely grated lemon zest and drop of yellow food colouring and then spoon into one of the prepared sandwich tins, spreading it out evenly. Repeat this process using the orange zest and orange food colouring in one of the remaining bowls of batter and the lime zest and green food colouring in the remaining bowl of batter.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the sponges are well risen, beginning to shrink away from the edge of the tin and are a rich golden colour.
5. Remove from oven and let cool for ten minutes and then remove from the tins and place on a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
6. Place all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer, beat together until creamy and a stiff spreading consistency. Set aside, whilst you trim the cooled cakes.
To finish:
7. Using a sharp, straight-edged serrated knife trip the top and bottom of each cake layer so that the coloured sponge is exposed. Take one of the layers and place on a serving plate. Spread a little of the buttercream over and then place another layer on top. Spread a little of the buttercream over this layer and top with the final sponge cake . Use the remaining buttercream to spread on top and around the sides of the assembled cake. I tend to do this in two stages using two thin layers of buttercream, refrigerating the cake for about ten minutes before applying the second and final layer as I find it makes for a smoother finish. Finally, if you fancy, mix up a little sifted icing sugar with a tiny amount of boiling water and a drop of food colouring to make a stiff pipe-able paste. Pipe the glace icing in squiggles over the cake, using a disposable piping bag to create a decorative finish.

Serves 6-8.