One of the most exciting parts of Christmas is opening up a present from a friend or a family member and loving what’s inside. And with my Christmas Present Cake, you are sure to love what’s inside this present; 2 layers of chocolate cake sandwiched with a white chocolate buttercream.
I used a 26.5cm x 21.5cm x 4cm traybake tin for this cake. Once it’s baked, I trim off the rough edges and then measure the length of the remaining cake and divide into 2 rectangles, forming the 2 sponge layers. I fill the cake with a layer of buttercream before doing a crumb coat.
Crumb coats are a process whereby you cover the cake in a thin layer of buttercream to prevent any crumbs from the cake getting into the buttercream which could ruin its appearance. It allows any further layers of buttercream to be smooth and allow fondant to be applied more easily and smoothly. A good tip is to keep a small bowl and kitchen roll on hand to remove any excess frosting from your palette knife.
When handling fondant icing, it’s always important to keep your work surface clean and dusted with icing sugar to prevent it sticking to your surface. Personally, I think that fondant should be a thin layer so I roll out the white fondant ‘wrapping paper’ as thinly as I can.
When I cover the cake, I roll it loosely up on my rolling pin before unrolling back over. This is the easiest and safest way to transfer your fondant and is less risky than moving it with your hands as it could split or fall. Always lift the fondant and move it so that it drapes down the side and the fondant on top is smooth.
By far the hardest part of the fondant work is covering the edges of the present. Unlike a round cake, the fondant doesn’t manipulate easily around the sharp corners of a square cake but the way I got around this was smoothing the fondant on the sides of the cake, using my hands which had icing sugar on them, so that at the corners, the fondant gathered up. Then I got a sharp knife and trimmed off leaving only 0.5cm excess and smoothed it together with my hands. The pizza cutter is also an essential tool.
For the chocolate sponge
110g granulated sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
100g self raising flour
15g cocoa powder
1 tbsp milk
For the white chocolate buttercream
200g icing sugar
60g white chocolate, melted
2 – 3 tsp milk
For the decoration
150g white fondant icing
100g red fondant icing
Preheat the oven to 170˚C. Grease and line a 26.5cm x 21.5cm x 4cm traybake tin with baking parchment, cutting diagonally in at the corners so that the parchment fits better in the tin.
Cream together the margarine and the sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and the eggs one by one, beating well between each addition, scraping down the bowl halfway through. Sift in the cocoa powder and the flour and then using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients until they are incorporated followed by the milk.
Pour the cake batter into the tin and use a spatula to level out the mixture. Bake the cake for 16 – 18 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool fully. Then trim off the edges and divide the cake into 2 rectangles.
Prepare the buttercream by beating together the margarine with the icing sugar, in 2 batches, until it is light and fluffy. Add in the melted white chocolate which has cooled down slightly and fold through until incorporated, adding in some milk if it feels too thick. Chill the buttercream for 30 minutes.
On your cake board, stick down the first layer of cake with a small amount of buttercream. Take about a quarter of the buttercream and spread it onto the first cake layer evenly, allowing some to go over the edge. Place the other sponge on top and take another quarter of the buttercream and spread it on top, and over the edges slightly.
Now do the crumb coat by covering the cake in a thin layer of buttercream. You can see that if this were the visible layer of buttercream, that it has a very dirty and rough look but this will get coated with more buttercream and fondant. Chill the cake and the buttercream for 30 minutes before coating the cake with the remaining buttercream. The cake should be as smooth as possible. Chill again.
For the fondant icing, knead the white fondant icing on a work surface dusted in icing sugar. Roll it out as thinly as possible and larger than your cake board. Roll it up over your rolling pin and then unroll it over the cake (see above for more details). Smooth out the fondant around the cake, using your hands to work the fondant icing. Use a pizza cutter to trim around the base of the present. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect at this stage.
Roll out the red fondant into a long strip and use the pizza cutter to cut out a 1cm wide strip long enough to go around the whole cake. This will cover up the bottom edge of the present. Wrap it around the bottom edge and use a little water to adhere the strip together. Make 2 more strips in the same way to create a cross over the present as in the picture, again using water to stick the fondant down.
Press silver balls firmly and evenly into the fondant cross. Then roll small balls of red fondant to create a spotty wrapping paper effect. Use a sharp paring knife to push the white fondant down slightly, creating a dip for the fondant balls to sit in. Leave the fondant to dry out overnight before serving.
Make sure to also check out the first 8 Days of Christmas. We’re nearing the end of the series and the feedback has been amazing, you’ve all seemed to love my 12 Days!