Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Recipe: Gatsby inspired art deco cake

Great Gatsby inspired art deco cake, as made by EJ
I have been eagerly awaiting the release of Baz Luhrmann's interpretation of Fitzgerald's classic, The Great Gatsby, diligently re-reading the book last summer in anticipation of the film's winter release .... only to wait a few more months for the revised May release. But this has given me time to create a Gatsby-inspired art deco cake, so I won't complain. The Great Gatsby is a book which seems to divide opinion - people are either enthralled by the story, or think nothing of it. For me, both times, it's been a captivating read - a story of the superficial value of status we apply to money, decadence, deception, moral decay, dreams - and love.

Both times, the book has also made me want to drink a mint julep. Despite the hazy build towards the plot's dark climax in that scene, those cocktails sound good! A quick Google search tells me they are bourbon based, muddled with fresh mint  - so post Gatsby-date this Saturday, Owen and I will most definitely be sipping mint juleps.

Aesthetically, the 1920s has to be one of my favourite eras, for the music, costuming and design. Despite the exciting snippets of recognisable story in Baz Luhrmann's movie trailer, it's the beautifully scrolling golden art deco design that sets the mood for me - and this is my inspiration for the Gatsby cake.

This post contains a recipe for the cake and a decoration tutorial - showing how you can create your own re-usable art deco stencil for use with edible shimmer spray. The stencil can be gently cleaned with soapy water, rinsed and dried for re-use.

The cake is made of a chocolate sponge, filled with chocolate buttercream and sliced glace cherries, covered with sugar paste and decorated with a spray stencilled art deco design. An 18cm square cake should give you 24 1in x 2in portions.

For the cake
175g self raising flour
150g caster sugar
100ml rapeseed oil
3 eggs
50g grated dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
3tsp cocoa powder

For the buttercream icing and filling
265g icing sugar
115g butter
2tsp water
1.5tsp vanilla extract
10 finely sliced glace cherries

For the icing
700g white regalice ready to roll icing
200g black regalice ready to roll icing
Gold edible spray paint
Edible glue
Silver sugar balls

You will also need:
An 18cm square cake tin
A pallet knife
A 25cm cake board to present
Some card
A sheet of acetate
A scalpel   
A food safe paintbrush

To make the cake:
Pre-heat the oven to 160C (fan). Line and grease an 18cm square cake tin.

Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, pour in the sugar and gently whisk in. Add the oil, egg yolks, chocolate and cocoa powder and mix. Sift in the flour and gently combine together to form a smooth batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 35 minutes, or until the sponge springs back completely when gently pressed with a finger.

Leave to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the buttercream icing and fill the cake:
Use an electric mixer to whip the butter until it's light and fluffy, gradually sift in the icing sugar, mixing on a slow setting, add the water and vanilla extract a little at a time until you have a good spreadable consistency.

Split the cake into two layers using a cake wire or knife. Spread chocolate buttercream onto the base layer, sprinkle over the chopped glace cherries and place the remaining layer on top. Using a pallet knife, spread a crumb coat of buttercream evenly over the top and sides of the cake, keeping it as smooth as possible.

Chill for 30 - 45 minutes to firm up the crumb coat. Then apply another layer of buttercream. To make the sides as smooth as possible, dip the pallet knife into very hot (just boiled) water, wipe dry, then smooth over the buttercream - the heat on the blade will gently melt the surface of the buttercream allowing the knife to glide smoothly over the surface.

Chill the cake for another hour to firm up the buttercream.

To cover the cake: 
Dust your surface with a tiny amount of cornflour and roll out 3/4 of the white regalice until it's approximately 3mm thick, lift it carefully with your rolling pin and lay it over the top of the cake. Smooth down gently with your hands, removing air pockets and bumps. Trim the edges off at the base of the cake, then gently use an icing smoother to remove any lingering imperfections. Use the edge of a clean pallet knife to tuck the raw trimmed edges underneath the cake for a neat finish.

To cover the board:

Roll out the remaining white regalice until it is large enough to cover the board, lay it over the board and trim off the edges. Use the side of a clean pallet knife to press a diagonally criss-crossed quilted impression into the icing. Carefully position the cake in the centre of the board. Spray the iced board and covered cake with the gold shimmer spray and leave to dry.

To make the art deco template and decorate the cake:

Art deco design, as made by EJ
Draw up an art deco design on a piece of card, you can do this by hand or using a computer. Keep the edges straight and the design symmetrical for best results. Lay the sheet of acetate over the top, place on a cutting mat and carefully cut out the design using a scalpel.

Dust the surface with a tiny amount of cornflour and roll out the black regalice until it's approximately 3mm thick and large enough for the template design.

Lay the template on top of the icing and spray with the gold shimmer
Lay the template flat on top of the icing, spray with the gold shimmer spray and immediately peel the template off to prevent bleeding. 

I forgot to take a photo of the black regalice without the template
on top! But here's the test version against white regalice.

The finished Gatsby-inspired art deco cake
Leave the design to dry, then slice off the excess icing using a sharp knife. Carefully lift it up using your rolling pin and lay it on top of the cake. Use a little edible glue to secure the silver balls around the edges.

Enjoy :)

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