Sometimes, you want to make a special cake that everyone wants to be the first to taste. This is one of those cakes. I’ve made it for my daughter’s birthday party and as a dessert cake for a friend’s wedding and it’s gone down a storm on both occasions. The sponge and the Italian meringue icing is flavoured with maple syrup which gives it a lovely smoky richness; you could decorate it with chopped walnuts or pecans but the edible gold leaf makes it extra-special. Gold candles for a birthday version would look brilliant too.
- 225g softened unsalted butter
- 225 light muscovado sugar
- grated rind of an orange
- 4 large eggs
- 100ml maple syrup
- 350g self-raising flour
- 2 level tsps baking powder
- 1/2 level tsp ground ginger
- 50g chopped pecans or walnuts
- Edible gold leaf for decoration
- 2 large egg whites
- 125ml maple syrup
- 125g golden caster sugar
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C.
- Grease a 1.75 litre ring mould baking tin and dust thoroughly with a little flour to prevent sticking.
- Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Gradually add the eggs and then fold in the flour, baking powder, ginger, maple syrup and orange rind. Stir in the nuts.
- Spoon the mixture into the tin and tap it to level the surface. Bake for about 40 minutes until well risen and golden and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin and then turn it out onto a cooling rack. Don’t be tempted to turn it out too early or half the cake will stay in the tin! It’s not the end of the world if a little does stick to the tin though as you’ll be icing it.
- To make the icing, add everything except the vanilla essence in to a metal or glass bowl that fits over a saucepan to create a double boiler. Fill the saucepan with enough water to cover the base but not to touch the bowl. Bring the water to the boil, set the bowl of ingredients over the water and, using a hand-held whisk, beat the mixture vigorously for 5-7 minutes. Take the bowl off the saucepan and beat in the vanilla extract.
- Place the cake onto a serving plate or stand.
- Cut out 4 strips of baking parchment about 8cm wide and arrange in a square along each edge of your cake plate or stand. Ice the sides and top of the cake with the meringue icing. Give it a swirly rather than a smooth effect and then dot the top with the gold leaf. Whip the pieces of baking parchment away to reveal an icing-free serving plate.
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