Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Renshaw challenge: Royal baby celebration cake

Royal baby celebration cake - as made by EJ
With Will and Kate's baby due this month there's a lot of excitement brewing across the nation about the arrival of a new royal. So when Renshaw Baking contacted me with a royal baby themed blogger competition I couldn't wait to get involved - you know how much I love a royalty-meets-cake combination.

With a busy schedule on my hands at the moment (hence the lack of blogging action over the last week), I had to work quickly on this brief - so settled on a small single tier cake as a base for my decor-ice creations.

Renshaw is a royal warrant holder for their almond products, so I wanted to make sure I incorporated some marzipan into the flavouring of this recipe. I love a fruit cake as much as the next person, but decided to go for a more modern approach this time - so I've created a rich almond sponge (flavoured with ground almonds), sandwiched together with buttercream (studded with flaked almonds), covered with a layer of marzipan beneath the decor-ice finish. Definitely a cake for almond lovers.

The cake is carved to look like a domed pillow, with a twisted decor-ice braid around the circumference  - I wanted to strike the balance between the themes of royalty and infancy, so chose a colour-way to remind me of depictions of royalty within fairy tales. The cushion cake is finished with cake-toppers shaped as a crown, a baby's shoe and a pacifier - modeled from Renshaw white ready to roll icing and painted gold with copious amounts of lustre dust. If you look closely at the toe of the baby's shoe, there's a little decor-ice lion's head - a child-friendly nod to the lion on the British Monarchy's coat of arms.

Royal baby celebration cake
Please bear in mind when following this tutorial that some stages will take a while - you'll be applying a crumb coat of buttercream to the cake and making cake toppers which will need to be left overnight to dry completely. As this is a fairly small cake, some of the decor-ice work is also very fiddly - so steady fingers, tweezers and a fair amount of patience will be useful to assemble the decorations.

Serves 8

To make the cake:
150g caster sugar
100g self raising flour
100g ground almonds
1.5 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
75ml oil

For the buttercream:
50g butter (room temp.)
250g icing sugar
1/2tsp almond extract
3tsp water
4tsp milk
30g flaked almonds

To decorate:
Renshaw marzipan
250g Renshaw decor-ice in lilac
70g Renshaw decor-ice in orange
250g Renshaw white ready to roll icing
10g Renshaw decor-ice in teddy bear brown
10g Renshaw decor-ice in yellow
Gold lustre dust (and a little vodka to apply)
Gold sugar pearls
Edible glue
A fine-tipped cake decoration pen in black

A food safe paintbrush
A sharp scalpel
A palette knife
An 30mm daisy plunger cutter
An 15mm round petal flower cutter
An 7mm heart plunger cutter
A toothpick (great for tweaking details)

Plunger cutters to create a mini lion face!
Royal baby celebration cake - as made byEJ
To make the cake:
Pre-heat the oven to 130C (fan), line and grease a 16cm round baking tin.

Combine all ingredients in a food mixer, pour the batter into the prepared tin, tap the sides to remove any trapped air bubbles and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove from the oven, leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To carve the cake:

When the cake is completely cool, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before carving - this will make the cake more solid and easier to work with. Using a serrated bread knife, carve the edges of the sponge to create a curve around the circumference.

To make the buttercream and apply the crumb coat:
To make the buttercream combine the butter, icing sugar, almond extract and milk in a food mixture until it's a smooth spreading consistency. Split the buttercream in half between two bowls. Finely chop the sliced almonds and stir these into one half of the buttercream.

Split the cake into two layers using a sharp knife or cake wire and sandwich the layers together using the buttercream (with the chopped almonds). Keep the remaining smooth buttercream to one side.

Return the cake to the fridge for 20 minutes to set the layers in place.

Remove the cake from the fridge and apply a crumb coat of the smooth buttercream using a palette knife. Return the cake to the fridge for 15-20 minutes to set the crumb coat in place. Then apply a second, smooth layer of buttercream over the crumb coat - try to keep it as smooth as possible so that it doesn't show through the rolled icing layers. To keep the top coat of buttercream smooth, heat the pallet knife in a bowl of hot water and wipe dry before smoothing over the final coat - the heat will soften the butter allowing a smoother finish.

Return the cake to the fridge again for 20 minutes to set this coat.

To ice the cake:
Dust the work surface with cornflour and roll out the marzipan until it's approximately 3mm thick with a large enough surface area to cover the cake. Lift it onto the cake using your rolling pin and smooth down from the centre top of the cake around the sides and edges, removing any creases or imperfections as you go. Trim the excess marzipan using a sharp knife and carefully tuck the cut edges under the cake using the side of a palette knife.

Then, repeat this process with the lilac decor-ice - rolling it out to a thickness of approximately 4mm (save the excess decor-ice trimmed from the edge of the cake for the braid). Once the edges are neatly tucked away under the cake, use the edge and length of your pallet knife to carefully indent the decor-ice with an evenly spaced criss-cross across the top and sides of the cake (this creates the cushiony texture). Pop a gold sugar pearl into the join of each criss-crossed diamond.

To make the braid for the edge of the cushion, knead the remaining lilac decor-ice until soft - then roll into a snake approximately 4mm wide. Do the same with the orange decor-ice (each snake will need to be approximately 50cm long to wrap around the entire circumference of the cake). Carefully wrap the lengths around each other to create the twisted braid effect.

To attach to the cake, insert dressmakers pins around the circumference of the cake (to sit just beneath the braid) so that approximately 2cm of pin is sticking out of the edge of the cake. Using a little edible glue, stick the braid around the edge of the cake (so that it is resting on top of the pins) - leave this to set overnight before removing the pins (please count the number of pins you use and be very careful to make sure all of the pins are removed from the cake before serving, they should all be visible as you use them).

Use dress-makers pins to hold the braid in place as it sets

To make the crown:

Crown cake topper
Roll out a little of the white ready to roll icing to a thickness of approximately 2mm and cut a strip 10cm x 1.5cm. Join the ends of the strip together, securing with a little water or edible glue. This will be the base of your crown.

Using the white ready to roll icing, make lots of tiny balls (3mm wide maximum), build these in layers onto the base of the crown to make the peaks - secure each ball in place with a little edible glue or a paintbrush dipped in water. Avoid applying too much moisture.

Leave to set overnight and finish by painting liberally with the lustre dust - wet your paintbrush with a little vodka to brush on as a paint. Leave to dry.

To make the baby shoe:

Golden baby shoe cake topper
Roll out some of the white ready to roll icing until it's approximately 2mm thick and create a template for the shoe using the below diagram as a guide, approximate measurements for each piece are as follows:

sole: 8cm x 4cm width at toe, 3cm width at heel
heel: 7cm along straight edge, 2.5cm height
toe: 8cm x 3cm
strap: 8cm x 1.5cm

Shapes required for the shoe (not to scale)

Wrap the 'front shoe' section around the toe of the base, securing in place with a little edible glue. Repeat this process to attach the back of the shoe to the heel.

Secure the strap over the join between the heel and toe of the shoe on either side with some of the edible glue.

Using the tiny heart cutter, cut enough hearts to cover the length of the strap and attach down with tiny dots of glue.

Leave to set overnight and finish by painting liberally with the lustre dust - wet your paintbrush with a little vodka to brush on as a paint. Leave to dry.

To make the tiny lion face:

Mini lion face!
Roll out the orange decor-ice to approximately 1.5mm thickness and cut one daisy using the plunger cutter.

Repeat this process with the yellow decor-ice and layer it onto the orange one, off-setting the petals slightly - secure in place with a dot of edible glue to create the mane.

Roll out the teddy bear brown decor-ice to the same thickness and use the rounded edge flower cutter to cut one flower. Arrange this on top of the yellow and orange mane - this will be the lion's face.

Returning to the orange decor-ice, cut one heart using the tiny heart cutter and place upside down on the lion's face - centrally align with one of the brown petals so that the lion's chin pokes out from the centre of the tiny heart.

Roll a tiny ball of the teddy bear brown decor-ice (1-2mm) and gently squash onto the tip of the heart to create the lion's nose.

Roll two more minuscule piece of the brown decor-ice into small sausages (2mm x 4mm), press down the centre length of each with the tip of the cocktail stick to indent - and carefully glue these in place as the lion's ears.

Leave the lion's face to set for a few hours before adding eyes and whisker dots with the cake decoration pen.

To make the pacifier:

Pacifier cake topper
Roll out a tear drop shaped piece of white ready to roll icing approximately xxmm x xxmm, slice off the narrow end to create a flat edge (this will form the nipple of the dummy).

Roll out another piece of white ready to roll icing approximately 3mm thick and cut an oval shape approximately 4.5cm wide. Glue the flat edge of the teardrop shape onto the centre of the oval and leave to set.

Icing soother decor-ice parts
To make the handle, roll out a sausage of the white ready to roll icing to a width of approximately 4mm and a length of 5-6cm. Slice either end to create a flat surface, curve the snake and glue both flat edges to the back of the pacifier. Prop up with  some folded kitchen paper and leave to set.

Once set in place, finish by painting liberally with the lustre dust - wet your paintbrush with a little vodka to brush on as a paint. Leave to dry.

To assemble:
Arrange the crown, shoe and pacifier on top of the cake - securing in place with a few dots of edible glue if necessary.

Thank you to Renshaw for sending me some marzipan, white ready to roll and a decor-ice colour pack to help with this project!

Best of luck to Will & Kate for the final days of their pregnancy, I for one can't wait to see hear news of the royal baby's arrival :) 


  1. Hey Emma! Such a superb creation! Love this Royal Baby Cake, excited all over again abt the Royal Baby ! Yay!

  2. This is so brilliantly British, elegant but so cute!

  3. Wonderful cake, very beautifully made. Also, thank you for confirming that I can use Renshaw regal icing for making models. Every time I've tried the models crack and dry out? How can I prevent this? Thanks

    1. Hi - thank you for your lovely comment :). Kneading the sugar paste very well before modelling usually helps, so it's nice & soft and you can roll it into a smooth ball. If my paste is a bit dry I sometimes knead in a little Trex to soften it up a bit, which might also help. Good luck!