Welcome to a new month! Small signs of hope outside as daffodils are pushing up and catkins are pushing down in the parks and gardens… Large signs of hope in the number of vaccinations achieved so far.
This month of course sees Valentine’s Day on 14th, and I’ve reverted to a favourite, easy design of mine for a cake to celebrate. I first thought about using roll out icing to represent material, both fabric and paper, over 50 years ago, and one of the first I made was a parcel, followed quickly by a bouquet of flowers, wrapped in ‘paper’. I still love both of them, and this month’s little heart-covered present looks pretty cute. I’ve used my red velvet cake mix because not only is it delicious, but the dark pink looks fabulous when the cake is cut. If there’s a proposal in the air, it would be magic to cut a little hole in the cake before icing it and bury a little (well-wrapped in cling film!) ring box inside, being careful to give the prospective fiancée the right slice…
If you have a small, square-shaped cake tin then of course you can bake it in that and split it horizontally and sandwich back together with butter cream. The only square tin I have was far too big for two (and at the moment a party is out of the question, sadly) so I used a rectangular one and cut in half, as you’ll see.
Roll-out icing is one of the easiest kinds to work with, and there’s a good selection of colours in my range, including red and a pretty pink, but of course you could cover the parcel in any colour you fancy. Once you’ve mastered covering it smoothly and adding the ribbon you’ll find it works for every possible kind of occasion. Using food colours to paint patterns onto the ‘paper’, like holly for Christmas or toys for a christening cake, is extremely effective too.
Have a happy February, and I’ll be back in March, when hopefully the outlook will be brightening as much as the mornings will be…
For the cake
- 1 pack Jane Asher Red Velvet Cupcake Mix
- 2 medium eggs
- 45ml water
- 45ml vegetable oil
- 80g softened butter
For the decoration
- 250g white roll-out icing
- 100g pink roll-out icing
- 75g red roll-out icing
You will need a square cake tin roughly 20cm square, or rectangular one roughly 18cm x 35cm, and a tiny heart cutter (or use a small sharp knife to cut the hearts)
Pre-heat the oven to 180C (160C fan, gas mark 4) Grease the cake tin and line the bottom with non-stick paper. Make up the cake mix as directed on the packet and pour into the prepared tin.
Bake the rectangular version for 30-35 minutes (and the square version for 35-40 minutes) until firm to touch and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for a couple of minutes, then turn out and leave on a rack until cooled completely. Meanwhile, make up the butter icing as directed on the packet. Once the cake is cool, cut it in half and trim the edges neatly (or, for the square cake, trim the edges then split horizontally).
Sandwich the two squares together with half the butter icing, then spread a thin coating of the remainder all over the cake.
Put into the fridge for half an hour or more to set – this will prevent crumbs being pulled up as you cover it with the roll-out icing. Dust the work surface with icing sugar to prevent sticking, then roll out the white icing to a size large enough to cover the cake.
Pick up the icing on the pin and unroll it over the cake, smoothing it and easing it over the corners with your hands. Mark the folds of the ‘paper’ with the back of a knife. Measure across the cake both ways, then roll out the pink icing and cut lengths for the ribbon, plus two shorter pieces for the tails of the bow.
Dampen the parcel with a little water where the ribbon will go, then stick in place, pinching the place where they cross with your fingers. For the bow, stick the tails in place first, then add a piece to make the loops of the bow, plus a small piece to cover the centre, shaping and pinching again as you go.
Roll out the red icing thinly, then cut some little hearts, and half hearts to add next to the ribbon, to give the illusion of the pattern continuing underneath. Stick with a little water.