The term 'showstopper' is probably most commonly associated with the final challenge set on each episode of the immensely popular TV show, The Great British Bake Off. I use the term in the same sense that these cakes really can take centre stage of any display however the difference is that these cakes do not bring the same amount of fear, or hours of time as those on the Bake Off do.
Both of these cakes were for birthdays and are a couple of the easiest yet most impressive cakes I think I've made.
The first one I'm going to talk about is a chocolate cake decorated with chocolate dipped strawberries and cherries; this was for my friend Annie's 18th birthday and I knew it had to be a special one as she had two exams on her birthday. The recipe I used for this cake is the same I use for the majority of my cakes and can be found here on a previous post - http://icingonthecakes.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/essential-cake-recipes.html - however I changed the quantities to 10Oz and 5 eggs which filled two 8inch cake tins.
Once the cake was baked, I made my favourite ever chocolate icing to fill and cover the whole cake. - http://icingonthecakes.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/the-perfect-chocolate-icing_5.html.
To decorate this cake, all you need is a handful of cherries, some strawberries, gold glitter spray and a bowl of melted chocolate (I used milk and white chocolate but the choice is yours).
Simply dip the strawbs and a few of the cherries in the melted chocolate, spray a few cherries gold and leave a few plain (or whichever combination takes your fancy) and then place on the cake accordingly.
I lay the strawberries on the cake board around the edge of the cake and distributed the cherries on the top in a mismatch kind of fashion.
With a few tweaks and some good arty angles, this cake looked amazing and definitely was a hit at the birthday meal - it's so easy to do and takes very little time.
The next cake I'm going to talk about is one I made this week which was for my mums birthday - which is in fact tomorrow! Annoyingly results day falls on the same day as her birthday so I thought the cake had to be extra special for the fact that her thunder may be stolen - either positively or negatively (we'll have to wait and see). For a while now, I've wanted to decorate a cake using fresh flowers and as summer (if you can ever have a proper summer in England) is drawing to a close, I thought now was a great opportunity to try this out.
The recipe and quantities used are the same as given above for the previous cake and I iced it using a simple buttericing recipe - nothing special, just tinted in gradients of pink to match the flowers.
Once the cake had cooled, I sandwiched together with strawberry jam - victoria sponge is her favourite - and then moved onto the buttercream. I started off by using the plain buttercream (untinted) to create a slight crumb coat for the cake and then completed this by icing a thicker layer of the plain buttercream around the bottom third of the cake.
Using a gel food colouring, I then tinted the remaining buttercream to a light pink colour and layered this on the next third of the cake - it doesn't matter if the colours mix slightly, it adds to the effect of the cake.
Finally, I tinted the remainder of the buttercream to a darker pink colour and used this to ice the top of the cake. Using a palette knife, I then smoothed the edge of the cake which helped to blend the icing and give a smoother gradient - the baby pink got a bit lost so perhaps this could have been a little darker to give more defined colours.
Next it was on to the flowers. I bought these from the supermarket and used a mix of pink roses, gypsophila and pink alstroemeria. Picking off the best buds (I used five of both the roses and alstroemeria) I placed these onto a sheet of baking paper and used gold spray to give the petals of a few of the flowers a slight sparkle.
I then arranged these on top of the cake in no particular fashion and placed stems of gypsophila around the edge of the cake on the cake board.
Not only do you have a beautiful, summery cake, you also end up with left over flowers to make a lovely display with!
This cake really did fit the occasion and obviously the flowers can be substituted with any colour or variety that takes your fancy - perhaps darker reds and oranges would be suited to a more autumnal cake in keeping with the colour of the buttercream.