The Birthday Cake Recipe

30 March 2013

Following my last post about Lily's birthday celebrations, I've had a few requests for the birthday cake recipe.

One such request came from my friend Sarah who now lives with her husband and little boy in California. We go back a long way, first having meet at Art school (Sarah was in the year below me, but we were on the same Fashion Promotion & Illustration degree course). My first job on graduating was working for the then newly relaunched fashion label Biba. I had an 'untitled' creative role that involved all manner of things, including sorting out the promotional imagery for the said season's collection. 

I remember holding a fashion shoot in the hallway of my old house, using Sarah as my model (she was, and still is stunning). At the time, the house (which had previously belonged to my grandparents and still featured much of their decor) had the most amazing metallic blueish/silver wallpaper in the hallway which we used as a backdrop for the shoot. This wallpaper, which I'm pretty sure had been around longer than me, had a certain air of vintage glamour about it thus providing the perfect, if rather unconventional, shoot location. 

The amateurness of it all makes me laugh now: the label has changed ownership over the years and is nowadays sold through House of Fraser. Their glossy advertising campaigns feature celebrity models of the moment such as Daisy Lowe and are shot by serious fashion photographers. How times have changed! 

Mine and Sarah's paths crossed once again, when we both worked for Urban Outfitters during their UK launch. But today, despite our distance, the wonders of social media has allowed us to keep up-to-date with each others life. Sarah is a longtime follower of Buttercup days, so I can only but oblige with the sharing of this recipe. So from Brighton to Santa Monica, here is that recipe for Rose & Almond Cake.

For the sponge:
225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
2 tbsp distilled rose water
2 tsp almond essence
4 medium eggs, beaten
60g plain flour
225g ground almonds
3 tbsp milk

For the lemon butter icing:
150g butter, softened
115g icing sugar, sifted
Juice and zest of a lemon

For the rose icing:
1 tbsp distilled rose water
1 tbsp lemon juice
140g icing sugar, sifted
Rose petals to decorate

Preheat the oven to 200C / GM6. Lightly oil two 18cm-wide Victoria sandwich tins. Line their bases with baking paper.

Beat the butter and sugar, until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the rose water, almond essence and a quarter of the eggs, until throughly combined. Beat in the flour and remaining eggs, then mix in the almonds and milk.

Divide the mixture equally between the two tins. Bake for 20 mins, or until risen and golden. Press the sponge lightly with your fingertip - if done, it should bounce back. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and cool completely.

To make the butter icing, beat together the butter, icing sugar, lemon zest and 2 and a half tbsp of lemon juice. Spread over one of the sponges and top with the other, best side up.

For the icing, stir the rose water and lemon juice into the icing sugar until thick and smooth. Spread over the top of the cake, allowing a little to drizzle down the sides. Finally just before the icing sets scatter with rose petals.

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