I have thought about what my first blog post should be for a while – and in the end I decided to pick one of my favourite cakes that I have decorated in the past. And that led me to this pink drip cake that I made for my mother in law’s birthday a few years ago.
I got asked if I would maybe like to make her birthday cake that year, and of course I did! I had fun planning it all out, baking and decorating it and I was so relieved when it survived the 4 hour car journey without a single mark.
It’s one of my favourite cakes, but also one of the easier ones that I’ve made. Because it doesn’t have a huge amount of fiddly details it’s really good to make if you haven’t decorated that many cakes before but really want to impress. You can decorate the basic drip cake to your heart’s content with buttercream swirls, all kinds of sprinkles and even chocolates or macarons – get creative and people are definitely going to be stunned!
In this post I will be going into detail about the decoration side of things – as a recipe base I used this Chocolate & Raspberry Battenberg Gateau from the BBC Good Food website. I changed it up slightly and omitted the rosewater (not a fan) and spread yummy chocolate ganache between the layers instead of the jam. Now let’s get decorating!
You will need
100g pink fondant
50g white fondant
White sugar pearls
1 batch of Italian meringue buttercream, flavoured and coloured with raspberries and a little pink food colouring
1 batch of chocolate ganache
Mikado or other chocolate sticks
Hundreds and thousands
Different flower cutters
Scalloped round cookie cutters, 10cm and 8cm diameter
Texture mat/stencil (optional)
Black edible marker or food colouring
Piping bag with a small star tip
A few days before you need the cake is the best time to make the ‘Happy Birthday’ sign and the flowers. This will give them enough time to dry and be nice and stable.
For the flowers, roll out the pink fondant to about 2mm thick and use some flower cutters to stamp out flowers in a few different sizes. Put a little dab of water in the middle of each flower and place a white sugar pearl in as a centre. Leave your flowers to dry either on some baking paper or in something rounded to give them a nice shape. I like using empty Toffifee trays for this – they’re perfect for small flowers!
For the ‘Happy Birthday’ sign, roll out the pink and the white fondant to about 3mm thick and cut out two circles using scalloped round cookie cutters, making the pink one slightly bigger than the white one. If you have a texture mat or stencil, you can give the pink circle a pretty pattern like I did. To do that, place the texture mat or stencil on top of the pink fondant before cutting out the circle. Gently roll your rolling pin across to imprint the pattern, pull off the stencil and then cut out the circle.
Using a little bit of water, glue the two circles together and attach some flowers onto the white circle. Carefully insert two cocktail sticks next to each other into the bottom of the sign, so you can stick it into the finished cake later. Leave to dry for a few hours or overnight and then use an edible marker or black food colouring and a brush to write ‘Happy Birthday’ onto the sign.
After fully drying out for a couple of days, the fondant decorations can be stored in an airtight container for a few weeks before using. This means you can make these as far in advance as you need.
To decorate the cake, spread a thin layer of the Italian Meringue Buttercream all around and smooth it out using a palette knife. This is called a crumb coat and should be quite thin as it is only there to bind any cake crumbs so they don’t end up in the outside layer of the buttercream of the finished cake. Put the cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes to let the crumb coat set. Then spread another layer of buttercream all over the cake, setting some buttercream aside for the final decorations. Try to get this layer as smooth and neat as possible. Put it back in the fridge for another 30 minutes or until the outer layer of buttercream is set.
Now the cake is ready for the drip! To get a nice thin drip, the chocolate ganache needs to be runny enough to flow nicely, but not too liquid. If it is too set the drips will be very thick, if it is too runny the ganache will pool at the bottom – if this is what you’re looking for then go for it, I just prefer thin drips that don’t pool too much. You can test how runny your ganache is on a cake scraper or even a plate. To do that, just put your test surface in the fridge for a bit, to replicate the cold cake and then, holding the surface vertically, drip a little of your ganache onto it and see how far down it runs. If it’s still too runny leave it to stand for another 10-20 minutes, if it’s too set then put it in the microwave for just a few seconds and stir. Be very careful with heating it up again, because it can go very runny very quickly!
Once you have your ganache at your desired consistency, pour it onto the centre of the cake and spread it out with a small palette knife. To make it drip down the side, gently nudge it over the edge with the palette knife all around the cake. Leave the ganache to set in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Fit a piping bag with your favourite star nozzle, fill with the remaining pink buttercream and pipe some swirls onto the cake. Different sizes and heights look nice together. Position the ‘Happy Birthday’ sign towards the back of the cake and surround it with some Mikado or other chocolate sticks. Place some of the fondant flowers onto the top and sides of the cake – they should stick to the ganache and buttercream – and finish it off with a good sprinkling of white sugar pearls and hundreds and thousands.