Recipe from Birthday Cakes by Fiona Cairns (Rizzoli, 2012) “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn’t. Any contrary-wise, what it is it wouldn’t be, and what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” Alice in Wonderland
FOR THE CAKES
- 30 purple paper cupcake cups
- 1 x All-in-One Lemon Cake batter (see below)
- juice of 1 lemon
- 5 tablespoons superfine sugar
TO ICE AND DECORATE
- 4½ cups (scant) confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus more if needed
- 7 to 8 tablespoons lemon juice
- grape violet food color paste
- 14 ounces white rolled fondant
- yellow food color paste
- large circle cutter
- very small circle cutter, or piping tip
- 2¼-ounce bag white royal icing, no. 1 tip
- ¾-ounce bag black royal icing, no. 1 tip
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To bake the cupcakes, line cupcake pans with the paper cups, divide the batter among them and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and spring back to the touch. (You may need to bake in two batches.) Meanwhile, make the syrup by mixing the lemon juice and sugar in a bowl. As soon as the cakes come from the oven, prick holes all over with a toothpick and douse each with a little syrup.
When ready to frost, place the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and very gradually add enough lemon juice to make a pourable consistency. Stir in the violet food color, a little at a time, as these colors are strong. If the frosting has become too runny, thicken with a little more confectioners’ sugar; it should coat the back of a spoon. Pour onto the cakes and let dry.
To make the Cheshire cat face, divide the rolled fondant in half. Seal half of it in a plastic bag. Color 3½ ounces yellow and the remaining 3½ ounces the same purple as the glacé icing on the cakes. Keep all the colors sealed in separate plastic bags when not in use. To make the mouths, roll out the white fondant to about ⅛" thick and use the edge of the circle cutter to cut out 30 crescent shapes (each about 2" long).
To make the eyes, roll out the yellow fondant to about ⅛" thick and use the end of a piping tip to make 60 eyes. Roll out the purple icing to about ⅛" thick and cut out 60 triangles for the ears about ¾" long, scoring a line in the center of each. Roll 30 tiny purple balls for the noses.
Using the white royal icing, stick all the eyes, ears, noses, and mouths onto the cakes. Pipe on teeth with white royal icing, and whiskers and pupils with black royal icing.
All-In-One Lemon Cake
FOR THE MERINGUES
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
FOR THE LEMON CAKE
1⅛ cups (2¼ sticks) unsalted butter, softened, diced, plus more for the pans
1¾ cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
finely grated zest of 2 large lemons and juice of 1
1¼ cups unrefined superfine sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
FOR THE SYRUP
juice of 1 lemon
5 tablespoons superfine sugar
TO FILL AND DECORATE
1¼ cups crème fraîche (low-fat if preferred) or mascarpone
1¼ cups good lemon curd, preferably homemade
1 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
A true citrus hit, laced with a lemon syrup and with a creamy lemon curd filling. Of course, you can always omit the meringue for a simpler, equally delicious cake.
To make the meringues, preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Place the egg whites and confectioners’ sugar in a scrupulously clean and dry metal or glass bowl and, using an electric handheld whisk, whisk until they form soft, shiny, marshmallowy peaks. This will take 8 to 10 minutes. Drop tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared sheet to make eight or nine meringues, and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. They are ready when they are crisp on the outside and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. They can be stored for a few days in an airtight tin.
Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8" round cake pans and line the bases with baking parchment. For this batter, I use an electric mixer and beater attachment, but do use a food processor, or a bowl and an electric whisk, if you prefer.
Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl, then add the lemon zest, sugar, butter, and eggs. Beat together and lastly add the lemon juice. Do not overmix.
Divide the batter between the two pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer emerges clean. Meanwhile make the syrup by mixing the juice and sugar in a bowl. As soon as the cakes come from the oven, prick them all over with a toothpick and spoon over the syrup. Let cool in the pans on a wire rack. When cold, remove the papers. Trim each cake level, and split in half horizontally.
Mix the crème fraîche lightly with the lemon curd, so that it is marbled, not completely blended.