Spring Lamb Show Stopper Cake
This pretty lamb cake is a fun and simple way to celebrate the springtime in all its glory! What better excuse to get baking? (Or more importantly, what better way to enjoy tea and cake in the garden?) For this cake you will need some basic piping skills. Practice in advance if you have time by loading some buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip nozzle and piping onto a plate. When you are done, scrape the ‘practice icing’ into a bowl, give it a quick beat to make it smooth again and it’s good to go again and again whenever you are ready.
For the cake
4 medium size free-range eggs
200g caster sugar
200g soft baking margarine (or softened butter)
200g self-raising flour
Zest of half a lemon
For the decoration and filling
400g salted butter, softened
550g icing sugar
Seedless raspberry jam
Extra icing sugar for dusting
Ready-to-roll icing coloured according to the following quantities:
Pale green, approximately 250g
And small quantities (no more than 50g each) of the following colours: black, white, light brown and three other colours suitable for flowers, eg: pink, pale pink and blue
Brown gel food colour
Non-toxic glue stick
Length of ribbon/washi tape, 82cm (32 ½inches)
- Turn the oven to 150 degrees Celsius fan (302 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Place the sugar and margarine into the mixing bowl and cream with the hand-held mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs and mix again.
- Put the mixer to one side and, using the silicone-headed spatula, fold in the flour followed by the lemon zest.
- Divide the mixture equally between the two sandwich pans.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, turning the tins halfway through the baking time. The cake will be ready when it is golden brown and springy to the touch. If it doesn’t seem to be ready, bake for a further 5 minutes and check again. (Repeating as necessary.)
- Remove the cakes from the tins, place on a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
- While the cakes are cooling, cover the cake board with pale green ready-to-roll icing by dusting the work surface with icing sugar and rolling the icing very thinly. When the icing seems to be the right size, carefully drape it over the board and polish gently with the fondant smoother, pressing down firmly. Put the board to one side while the icing dries.
- Prepare the buttercream icing by beating the softened butter with the icing sugar until smooth. This can be done with the hand-held mixer (cleaned) or by hand with a silicone-headed spatula in a large mixing bowl.
- When the cakes are cool, examine both and decide which of them has risen into the smoothest, most symmetrical ‘dome’. This cake will become the top layer.
- Using a cake leveller, cut the dome off of the other cake so that it is flat and discard the trimmings. (A cup of tea helps to ‘discard the trimmings’ extra efficiently.)
- Place the trimmed cake on a board or plate and spread a thick layer of buttercream on top.
- Spread a little seedless raspberry jam on the underside of the top cake and place on top of the buttercreamed lower layer so that the dome is uppermost. Then place the cake in the fridge to firm up.
- Take some of the buttercream icing and tint it pale brown by adding a little brown food colour gel at a time, mixing with the silicone headed spatula until you reach the colour you like best.
- Using the mini palette knife, spread the brown buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake. Try to make the icing as smooth as possible but don’t worry if some neat palette knife marks are visible. Return the cake to the fridge for a few more minutes to firm up again.
- Meanwhile, transfer the rest of the uncoloured buttercream to the piping bag fitted with a large open star tip nozzle.
- Remove the cake from the fridge and secure it onto the covered cake board with a dab of buttercream.
- Using the photograph as guide, pipe circular ‘rosettes’ all around the sides of the cake, leaving a space for the lamb’s face in the middle.
- Dust the work surface with icing sugar before working with the coloured ready-to-roll icing.
- Use the mini fondant rolling pin to roll the brown icing fairly thinly and cut out two circles with the circular cutter. Fold each circle in half and pinch at the edges to make ears. Attach to the cake on either side of the face by gently pressing them onto the buttercream.
- Flatten two small balls of black icing to make eyes, and roll tiny sausages of black icing into points to make lashes. Attach to the cake in the same way. Add tiny flecks of white icing to make highlights.
- Roll out pale pink icing and cut a small triangle for the nose, adding two curving finely rolled sausages of black icing to make the mouth below.
- Roll out more pale pink, darker pink and blue icing and use the flower plunger cutters to cut out several flowers in every colour (about 10 flowers for each colour). Keep two flowers to put on the lamb’s head and attach the rest to the baseboard with tiny dabs of water, completely encircling the cake.
- Disguise the silver edge of the cake board by using the glue stick to attach ribbon or washi tape all the way round. (Even though the washi tape is adhesive, it often needs extra glue to stick properly.)
- Store the cake in a large tin, box or under a cake dome at room temperature until it is time to serve it.
Buttercream is much easier to work with when it is soft. Soften in the microwave in a suitable container in 5-second bursts on low power.
Pipe roses by piping a spiral shape starting from the middle and working outwards. Practice makes perfect, so do set aside some time to have a practice if you think it will be helpful.
Ready-to-roll icing needs nothing more than a tiny dab of water to stick – sometimes no water is necessary.
No water is needed to stick the icing to the cake board, just press it onto the board firmly with the fondant smoother.