Friday 14 October 2011

Rainbow Celebration Cake

A rainbow cake makes a great treat for a loved one, not many people would expect to find a rainbow cake inside the icing, and I found it made a lovely surprise. I am interested in trying various different flavourings, and also possibly making patterns within the cake, and will keep you all posted if I do. Here's how to make the basic one, it does take quite some time, so be prepared.

  • Preheat your oven to gas mark 4, and grease two 7 inch cake tins.
  • Take 14 oz Stork, or any softened butter, and 14 oz caster sugar. Cream together until smooth and pale.
  • In a separate bowl crack 7 large eggs, make sure there are no bits of shell, whisk, and add gradually to the sugar and butter mix, beating in well. 
  • Gradually fold in 14 oz. self raising flour. 
  • Take a separate bowl and take some of your mix. I don't have a scientifically accurate way of making sure all your individual cakes are the same size, I just took a table spoon, and my wooden spoon and picked up a large dollop of mix, and did this three times for each cake. Of course you can just weigh out the mixture if you want to be more accurate. Add some food colouring and fold in until the whole mix is evenly coloured. Spread this coloured mix into one of the cake tins. Repeat in a separate bowl for your second colour. Put both coloured cakes in the oven for about 15-20 mins.
  • I was always taught to get the cake in the oven as soon as possible after adding the eggs so I found it quite unsettling having to leave so much mix waiting while the first few baked, but as I'm sure not many people have six cake tins of the same size, and an oven big enough to bake them all in one go, I didn't have much choice. Cover your mixing bowl of mixture with cling film while you wait for them to cook. 
  • Once the first of the cakes are done, leave them to cool, remove them from the tins, and repeat until all the cakes have been baked.
  • Once they are all cool, make some buttercream icing by creaming softened butter and icing sugar together.
  • To construct the cake, first decide what order you want the colours in. Take the base cake, cover the top with a thin layer of buttercream (I tried to keep the filling quite thin as there are so many layers, I didn't want the overriding taste to be buttercream rather than cake!). On the next cake cover the bottom with raspberry jam and place on top of the bottom layer. Continue until all layers have been added.
  • I had to then wrap cling film around the outside of the cake as it was quite a tower so it didn't all slide off before the buttercream set a bit. Even if you have a large enough fridge to put the cake in it's probably worth wrapping it up to ensure it keeps its shape.
  • In the meantime, sprinkle some icing sugar on your work surface and roll out your icing. When ready, unwrap the cake, cover the outside with a thin layer of buttercream so the icing sticks. and cover.
    It's up to you how you decorate it. I went for icing flowers (roll out the various colours, cut out the shapes of petals, and construct on the cake), but the options are endless.

    Here's a photo of the other side of mine, in case you wanted to do flowers as well and wanted some ideas.

Monday 3 October 2011

Shining for Cancer Research UK

On Saturday night I took part in a night-time walking marathon organised by Cancer Research UK, and it was quite an experience, so I thought I would share it with you all. It started at the o2 and already there was a huge queue to get in when we arrived. Everyone had decorated themselves with luminous tutus, glow sticks, glow in the dark paint, light-up bunny ears, and many other variations. There was a great atmosphere; everyone seemed really excited and pumped to get going. After we had done our warm-up we headed to the start line. It took quite a while to get going as there were about 10,000 of us taking part!

I found it very moving to be a part of. Many members of my family have battled cancer, some survived, others, sadly, didn’t. As with all Cancer Research events I have taken part in, they give you a back sign on which to write why you are taking part, and it’s very emotional, and motivating to read others’ reasons. Many take part in memory of a loved one, in support of those battling it, or as a survivor. It really hit home just how many people are affected by this one disease, and how many people care enough to go the extra mile to try and beat it.

I was immensely grateful to all the members of public we passed that cheered us on, it gave us the boost we needed to keep going, especially near the end where a lot of people (and I include myself in this) looked about ready to burst into tears from the effort. I know some of those cheering us on felt somewhat disgruntled that we didn’t all wave and cheer back, as we had been at the beginning, but by about mile twenty we were all so exhausted, I managed to muster a smile for them but that was about it. I know a lot of people think it’s ‘only walking’ but it was one of the toughest things I have ever done, and I know a lot of other participants felt the same.

By the time we crossed the finish line we were too exhausted to really enjoy it, and just wanted to sit down. As we sat/lay there waiting for the tube to start running it was lovely seeing many more people crossing the finish line, such a great achievement. I feel quite a bond to all the others who shared the experience, even though I will never see most of them again. It was quite surreal seeing all these people who we’d just marched around London with hobbling around the o2 in pain, or lying wrapping in foil blankets on the floor. A peculiar sight had anyone stumbled upon us I’m sure.

Finally, I just want to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers who were there handing out drinks at the pit stops, cheering us on, and pointing us in the right direction. They must have been tired and bored, but continued in high spirits to help keep us going. You are all wonderful people. Also, to Cancer Research for organising such an event, and for providing for us so well.

It was an amazing experience in so many ways, highly emotional, and unbelievably tough, both physically, and mentally. I’m glad I did it, but, as the stiffness and soreness in all my limbs continues I’m not sure I shall be in such a hurry to repeat the exercise!