Eat this Food are back today with a super sweet recipe for the prettiest birthday cake I think I’ve ever seen… Seriously, how photogenic is it!? Don’t be fooled, it tastes even better than it looks! – Lucy
Milk and Honey birthday cake – recipe by Pat Breen, photo by Sean Fennessy, graphics by Jess Lillico.
Melbourne could be called a land of milk and honey. That’s not a reference to the 1984 John and Yoko album of the same name. I’m talking about the welcoming character of this place, and the notion of Melbourne as a culinary capital and place of food abundance. And substance!
There’s no doubt it’s becoming easier to seek out interesting and unique products, produced by excited suppliers who have a real connection with what they sell. A connection that often transcends the dollar and cent value.
Products like the honey hailing from Rooftop Honey, which is made by a group of committed enthusiasts that use old fashioned methods, resulting in runny honey that tastes AMAZING. And milk from Jonesy’s, whose happier cow/happier farmer philosophy allow them to produce superior dairy products. These are just some of the small food enterprises in Melbourne at the moment taking an everyday commodity and turning it into something much more significant. And it is these two seemingly ordinary products that have inspired today’s recipe!
Then of course there is the six-layered cake itself! This cake is based around the Latino super dairy soaked cake, Tres Leches. A real classic! It needs a little bit of attention in preparation, so save it for a special occasion. Don’t be put off by the layers though, it’s much easier than it looks. Just give it some time; bake at your leisure and enjoy it!
Milk and Honey birthday cake – recipe by Pat Breen, photo by Sean Fennessy.
For the cake:
335 g cake flour
9 egg whites
4 egg yolks
250 g caster sugar
1 generous dollop of pure vanilla
1 ½ tbsp baking powder
A generous pinch of cinnamon
A generous pinch of salt
¾ cup of buttermilk
For the milky soak:
1 cup full cream milk
1 tbsp milk powder
2 tbsp condensed milk
For the frosting:
2 generous tbsp of honey
100 g vegetable shortening
110 g cream cheese
230 g unsalted butter
2 tbsp glucose
200 g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of baking powder
In order to achieve the layers in this cake, it’s essential to bake two sheets of cake which will require you to bake two separate batches. You will end up with a LOT of off cuts, they are for experimenting with, or freezing for a rainy day – believe me when defrosted these cakey remnants become the perfect unexpected snack. You will also require two cake rings, one with a diameter of 125mm, and another 205mm. In addition to these you WILL need acetate plastic film, available from art supply shops. Feel free to go down your own path with different shaped cake rings too, square shapes would look really neat, as a suggestion.
Before preparing the cake batter, line a 17 cm by 12 cm lamington tray with baking paper, and preheat the oven to 180C.
Begin by sifting the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Separate the eggs. Using a stand alone mixer on high speed, with a beater attachment, whip the egg whites into stiff peaks. Rain in the sugar at the end of this process and you should have a glossy stark white meringue. Using a paddle attachment, mix on low speed incorporating the egg yolks, one at a time. Keep the mixer on low and add ⅓ of the remaining dry ingredients. Alternate with ⅓ of the buttermilk until everything is well incorporated. Try not to over-mix, you want to keep the volume of the egg whites without knocking too much air out of it.
Take this cake batter and pour into the lamington tin, smoothing the top with a spatula. Let it sit for 5 minutes on a flat surface, as you want the cake to rise as evenly as possible.
Pop it in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the top has turned a lovely golden colour, and the middle springs back when poked. The cake should have risen slightly too. If all is looking good, remove from the oven and let cool for just a few minutes. Grab a fork and prick the cake all over. Mix together the ingredients of the milky soak, and pour on top of the cake. Allow to cool for another 5 minutes.
Now comes the fun part – grab the cake ring and cut out two large circles and two smaller ones. Put the cake circles in a safe place while you mix another batter, and bake another tray.
Once you have baked and cut out another tray of cake, gather your circles together and put your cake rings on some baking paper, atop of a flat wooden chopping board, or anything else that’s flat and will be okay to go into the freezer. Using the acetate, line each cake ring on the inside. The acetate will need to be high enough to support three layers of cake with frosting, which will probably be about a cm or two thick in between each layer.
For the frosting, start by creaming the butter and cream cheese together in a stand alone mixer with paddle attachment. While this is happening, melt the vegetable shortening in a pot on the stove or in the microwave.
Once the cream cheese and butter are light and voluptuous, add the melted shortening a little at a time, mixing on a medium to high speed. Turn the mixer down to low and stream in the glucose and vanilla. Crank the mixer back up for another 2-3 minutes. Finally add the sugar and baking powder and mix on low speed until completely incorporated. Flick the mixer back up again to high, until the frosting is smooth and white.
Layer your cake by slotting in the first cake circle, followed by a layer of frosting. Repeat until you have three layers of cake, and three layers of frosting. Do the same with the smaller cake ring.
Put everything into the freezer for 12 hours so that the cake can properly set. Once you have done this, pop the cake ring off, and carefully unwrap the acetate. Viola! Your cake will be ready, and stable enough for you to stack the small one on top of the bigger one. Let the whole thing thaw in the fridge for an hour or two before serving.
For more inspired recipes from this talented trio, head to the Eat This Food blog!