For a quick bake-win, I often revert to an all-time classic; the vanilla sponge. The recipe I use is actually for 12 cupcakes and I just double it to make a 2 layer cake or treble for a 3 layer cake.
For Scarlett’s first birthday, I trebled the recipe to produce a 3 layered Victoria sponge cake with raspberry jam filling and vanilla buttercream icing.
I kept the decoration simple (yet beautiful) and placed two gorgeous hand-decorated Schleich animal figures in the centre alongside a personalised name topper and sprinkled some ‘hundreds and thousands’ around the edges and on the sides of the cake.
We kept Scarlett’s party very low key and just had my family over for a little birthday tea party. (I’ve certainly learnt my lesson from doing too much for my boys’ 1st and 2nd birthdays to know keeping it simple and not doing too much is the best thing at this age!).
Serves 12 cupcakes (double for 2 layer cake, treble for 3 layer cake)
2 large free-range eggs
100g/3½oz caster sugar
100g/3½oz self-raising flour
100g/3½oz unsalted butter (softened)
1 level tsp baking powder
1 level tsp vanilla extract
Raspberry jam for the filling
For the buttercream
Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes (double for a 20cm cake, 2 or 3 layer)
100g/3½oz unsalted butter, softened
200g/7oz icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp milk
1 level tsp vanilla extract
Large mixing bowl
x3 20cm/8in sandwich tins
Method for making a 3 layered cake
1. Preheat the oven to 160C Fan. Grease and line three 20cm/8in sandwich tins: use a piece of baking or silicone paper to rub a little baking spread or butter around the inside of the tins until the sides and base are lightly coated. Line the bottom of the tins with a circle of baking paper.
2. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, flour, baking powder, soft butter and vanilla extract. Mix everything together until well combined. Be careful not to over-mix – as soon as everything is blended you should stop.
3. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins. Use a spatula to remove all of the mixture from the bowl and gently smooth the surface of the cakes.
4. Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open the door while they’re cooking, but after 20 minutes do look through the door to check them.
5. The cakes are done when they’re golden-brown and coming away from the edge of the tins. Press them gently to check – they should be springy to the touch. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool in the tins for 5 minutes. Then run a palette or rounded butter knife around the inside edge of the tin and carefully turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack.
7. To take your cakes out of the tins without leaving a wire rack mark on the top, put the clean tea towel over the tin, put your hand onto the tea towel and turn the tin upside-down. The cake should come out onto your hand and the tea towel – then you can turn it from your hand onto the wire rack. Set aside to cool completely.
8. For the buttercream, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar and one tablespoon of the milk and beat the mixture until creamy and smooth. Add the remaining tablespoon of milk if the buttercream is too thick.
9. To assemble, choose the sponge with the best top, put one cake top-down on to a serving plate and spread with the jam. Then place the second sponge on top and repeat the process. Finally, place the uppermost cake on the top.
10. Once assembled, apply a thin layer of buttercream to the entire cake. I use a cake turntable which makes the process so much easier. Pop in the fridge for 15 minutes to set.
11. Remove from the fridge and apply a second coat (your top coat). Use a cake knife to make the sides and top as smooth as possible.
12. Lastly, decorate the cake with your choice of cake toppers and sprinkles.
Schleich hand decorated animal figures
Personalised name topper
Large confetti balloons
Scarlett’s tutu skirt
Scarlett’s personalised vest