Summer has definitely arrived…… and has suddenly got ridiculously busy! What with juggling work, holiday childcare, domestic chores and a bit of blogging in between….. my time has become mega-squeezed. We are bang in the middle of the annual round of local festivals (last week we had the Whitstable Oyster Festival to enjoy and this weekend, the Regatta) and on top of that Miss GF has a birthday to celebrate next week as well.
Followers of the blog will know that Miss GF has been getting into a bit of baking of her own in recent months and to support her enthusiasm, she has been given a little series on the blog called Miss GF Makes, where she can showcase her achievements.
Although she can be a bit of a free spirit in the kitchen with a tendency to grab a load of random ingredients and mix them together as a sort of scientific baking experiment (mostly surprisingly successful), she is also happy to embrace commercial baking mixes and loves to see how far she can take them.
On our recent visit to the Allergy & Free From Show in London, she got chatting to the lovely people from Wow Cakes and told them about her enjoyment of baking and her Miss GF Makes endeavours. Her enthusiasm was obviously noted, because they asked her to test-run a cake of her choosing……..
For those of you new to Wow Cakes, they are a Lancashire-based company, specialising in gluten free cakes and cake mixes. They have 3 ‘Ultimate’ cake mixes which were being showcased in London : a Chocolate Brownie, Carrot Cake and Sponge mix…… They all tasted fab (we know because we tried them) and I would definitely recommend giving them a go. They had a good crumb, were not over-sweet and seemed like they could all be easily adapted to use different flavourings and additions……. The mixes are also nut free.
Miss GF was given free-reign to decide what mix she wanted and what she wanted to do with it. Her choice was to receive the Ultimate Sponge Mix, which she decided would give her the flexibility to make pretty much any cake she wanted….. She was very excited when it arrived addressed to her and I have to say became quite protective of it.
Having seen Miss GF navigate her way through the straight forward instructions and whip up the sponge with minimal effort, I can confirm that these mixes really are so simple to make, that even a young child could knock up a masterpiece with them. We rest our case……. Miss GF’s cake was beyond expectations and I think (being a very proud Mum), incredibly well thought-out and creative.
Inspired by the Rio Olympics which have started this weekend, Miss GF decided to make a single two-tiered cake with a sponge that was coloured in line with the Brazilian flag….. yellow, green and blue….. Funky and very very bright!
Fortunately, Miss GF has never shown any adverse behavioural reaction to the addition of bright colourings in food, so we had no worries on that front. There was however a down side…… If you use as much dye as we did, expect a rather green side-effect at the other end!
The sponge mix seemed to take on the colour without any negative impact….. but we had to be very careful when folding through, as the batter had become quite thick and gloopy as a result of the xanthan gum in the flour-blend. This is a fairly normal hurdle with xanthan-added GF bakes, but one which we find needs extra care with commercial mixes as you have less choice on the order you add your ingredients and they often instruct to whisk the wet ingredients into the dry. In my own recipes, I rarely do this as it seems to have an adverse affect on xanthan-inclusive batter and can make for an over-firm, less fluffy cake structure….. I prefer to beat or fold in by hand using a spoon.
Either way, the Wow Ultimate Sponge turned out fine. It is light, but quite close in texture, which would make it perfect for birthday cakes that you might want to cut into shapes and sculpt.
Miss GF had already added extra vanilla extract to the sponge and (being quite a lover of vanilla) decided she would also cover the whole thing in vanilla butter icing, to ensure an element of surprise when the cake was cut into, revealing the garish colours. Topped with some icing Olympic Rings, Miss GF then finished off the base and sides with some equally bright, matching M&Ms.
Her piece de resistance was the sugar-work triangles that she made to go round the top of the cake sides……. the idea being to make the cake into an Olympic stadium. Apparently, she had learnt how to do basic sugar work at school (that’s clearly a bit of the curriculum I missed!), so she gave me a lesson as well….. by the incredibly simple method of melting the sugar and drizzling it onto baking paper into shapes…..
I think you’ll agree….. Miss GF has created quite a special Olympic masterpiece! Creative and original for sure and certainly a serious road-test for the Wow Ultimate Sponge Mix, which proved itself to be exceptionally good!
I am sharing with the following linkies :
Love Cake with Jibber Jabber. August’s theme is ‘It’s a Mystery’. There are a couple of mysteries in this cake….. How did I miss that Miss GF had learnt sugar-work in school? and of course there is mystery within….. When you cut through the vanilla frosting, you reveal one crazy crazy sponge!
Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma
Cook Blog Share with Hijacked by Twins
#TheFoodCalendar with Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen….. Celebrating the Rio Olympics
Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse
Olympic Cake – made with Wow Ultimate Sponge Mix
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (for extra vanillariness)
black, red, blue, yellow and green ready to roll icing
some bright ‘Olympic’ coloured M&M’s (or alternative bright sweets)
approx 250g caster sugar (for the basic simple sugar work)
- Heat your oven to the temperature as instructed on the cake mix and base line 2 x 7 inch/ 18 cm non-stick round baking tins.
- Follow the instructions to make the sponge batter. We added an extra hit of vanilla extract for a flavour boost.
- Before the batter is put into the cake tins, divide into 3 equal amounts and add blue and/or yellow food colouring to make each batter yellow, blue or green.
- Dollop large spoonfuls of each batter randomly into the cake tins, being careful not to stir or mix together.
- Once the batter is all in the tins, use the back of a spoon to ease it into any gaps and evenly distribute and level in the tins, being very careful not to mix the colours together.
- Bake the sponge according to your packet instructions.
- When ready, remove from the oven and turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Make up your butter icing whilst you are waiting for the cake to cool, by beating your softened butter with icing sugar, vanilla extract and a little milk (we always use almond or coconut milk) as in this recipe.
- When the sponge is cold, sandwich together with a layer of butter icing and then completely cover the outsides with the remaining icing (reserving a small amount for sticking decorations to the cake later) and smooth with a palette knife or icing smoother.
- Make the olympic rings from the ready to roll icing (making sure they are small enough to fit the top of the cake). Miss GF used a thin acrylic rolling pin as a mould to get good circles.
- Whilst your circles are still soft, use a sharp knife to cut out small pieces and set together on non-stick baking paper as if they were linked. We looked at the required link pattern for Olympic rings on the internet and then painstakingly replicated the pattern. Leave to harden for a couple of hours.
- When the ring arrangement is firm enough to handle, carefully ease it onto the top of the cake using a palette knife (you may need to adjust it slightly when it is in place).
- Decorate the base and sides of the cake with M&M’s/sweets, carefully sticking them with a little of the remaining butter icing if required.
- To make the simple sugar work : Miss GF simply placed the caster sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and gently heated, stirring frequently, until it began to dissolve.
- When the sugar starts to dissolve, increase the frequency of stirring until you have clear, liquid sugar. Turn the heat right down and keep a close eye to ensure it doesn’t burn at all.
- Place a large sheet of non-stick baking paper on a flat, heat-proof work surface and using a spoon (Miss GF just used the silicone spoon she had used to stir), drizzle the liquid toffee into triangle shapes, wiggling the flow across the centre to join the sides together with patterns.
- Leave to go cold and hard (this only takes a few minutes).
- Use the sugar triangles to decorate round the top of the cake.
- Sprinkle a little edible glitter to finish.