Anyone who knows my beau, Mr Peachy (not his real name, obv), will know that one of his favourite stories of 'us' is the tale of how he managed to convince me to make my own Birthday cake without me knowing, last year.
The scene was set, Mr P had arranged a surprise dinner party for me. All I knew, was that we were heading out to dinner, after we had dropped off a carefully baked Victoria Sponge to his 'work colleague'. 10 minutes on the bus later, I walked into a room of 20 friends and family sat waiting patiently at Edin's restaurant, and it became clear that I had slaved over a hot oven for, well, me actually.
This year, I decided to cut out the middle man and pre-empted my other half's love of practical jokes, by claiming that I would make my own cake! And what better way to celebrate in style, than with a beautiful, decadent Neapolitan Birthday Cake!
The original idea was taken from a magazine, 'Making Cakes', but I adapted with my own cake recipe and buttercream icing. I made the pink and white cakes at the same time for ease, but you can make all three cake mixes separately if you prefer, simply halve the ingredients for the pink and white cakes.
For the Pink and White Cakes
280g Caster Sugar
240g Self Raising Flour
80g Soft Salted Butter
2 Large Eggs
240ml Semi Skimmed Milk
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Pinch Salt
3-4 Drops of Natural Red Food Colouring
For the Chocolate Cake
140g Caster Sugar
100g Self Raising Flour
40g Soft Salted Butter
30g Cocoa Powder
120ml Semi Skimmed Milk
1 Pinch Salt
For the Buttercream (All three colours)
1 kg Icing Sugar
240g Soft Salted Butter
75ml Semi Skimmed Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
20g Cocoa Powder
3-4 Drops of Natural Red Food Colouring
Firstly, preheat your oven to 190 c (170 c for fan ovens, gas mark 5). to make your pink and white cake mixes, put your caster sugar, flour, salt and butter into a bowl and mix (using either a mixer or hand whisk) until the mixture has a breadcrumb consistency.
In a separate jug, mix the milk and vanilla extract and add the eggs. Beat until smooth and add most of the milk mixture to the dry and whisk until combined. Add the last little bit of milk mixture and continue to whisk until the batter is smooth and fully combined.
Carefully, pour half of the mixture into a second mixing bowl and slowly add your drops of food colouring until the mixture is your desired colour of pink. I find 3-4 small drops achieve a lovely pastel pink colour.
Keeping both your mixtures separate, pour into 8" prepared round tins and bake for approx. 25 mins, or until the cake is goldening in colour and a knife skewered completely through the middle is completely clean when removed. Place cakes on a wire rack and leave to cool.
Next, follow exactly the same method to make the chocolate cake - adding the cocoa powder in at the beginning, with the dry ingredients.
Once you have baked all three cakes and they are all completely cool, you are ready to make your icing and decorate your cake!
To build your cake, start from the chocolate layer at the bottom. Measure out 250g of icing sugar and 80g of butter and mix together until they have formed a soft, combined mixture, there shouldn't be any big lumps. Slowly pour your cocoa powder in and continue to mix until the icing changes colour. Finally, add 25ml of milk and mix until combined and firm - the icing cannot be runny.
Using the rest of the icing, spread the top of the cake with a palette knife and place your pink cake on top. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes, just to help the iced roses set.
Repeat the icing process with the pink cake - make the mixture in exactly the same way and add your drops of food colouring at the end of the process. add vanilla extract to the milk for a touch of flavour. Remove the cake from the fridge and ice your pink layer in the same way, spreading the remaining mixture with a palette knife on the top and place your white cake layer on top. Place back in the fridge.
The vanilla icing mixture uses 500g of icing sugar, 160g butter and 50ml milk - you need to make more to ensure that the sides and top of the white layer are covered. Once this is made, remove the cake from the fridge and repeat the icing process. To decorate the top, ice in exactly the same way, starting at the edges and working inwards. If you have any gaps, pipe the remaining icing in short bursts to cover up the holes. I would recommend leaving in the fridge for an hour or so until you are ready to serve! Once cut, this cake will last for up to 4 days in an airtight container.
There you have it, my first attempt at a Neapolitan Cake was a success! It was even retweeted on Twitter by the wonderful John Whaite, winner of last year's Great British Bake Off. I've had some amazing feedback and comments - so a big thank you to everyone who tried it or who took the time to tweet me about it!
Why not give it a go yourself? If you have an occasion coming up it makes the perfect centre piece! And don't forget to upload your results to the Facebook page - www.facebook.com/lifeispeachytales
If you are local to the Nottingham area and would like one made for an occasion - please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to hear from you! As ever, I love to hear from people who read the blog and would love your comments!! Have a lovely weekend! E x