A nest of very finely spun sugar on top of a cake is a real showstopper. Once mastered, it is a relatively quick, easy and inexpensive way to decorate a cake. However, it needs a little patience and it is essential to follow the instructions very carefully. Caramelised sugar reaches a temperature higher than boiling water and, if not treated with respect, can be very dangerous. Don’t try to do this with young children around! The spun sugar should keep for a few hours in a dry place. Keep it out of a steamy kitchen and away from all moisture; damp weather won’t help at all.
Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds (or extract) for about five minutes in an electric mixer. Add the eggs gradually, with
To ice the cake, place one cake on to your board or cake stand and spread the top with a layer of the buttercream. Place the other half on top, flat side up. Spread the remaining buttercream all over the top and sides and smooth with a palette knife.
Have to hand a small bowl of cold water, a large bowl of cold water, and baking parchment laid over a rolling pin.
Place the sugar and
When you boil the caramel hard, it will go through various stages. The caramel will turn to a beautiful light golden colour. Test it by dropping a small piece into the small bowl of cold water. If it forms a ball, snaps and crackles, it is ready.
Remove from the heat and plunge the pan into the large bowl of water to stop it cooking. Hold the sawn-off whisk (or the 2 forks back to back), dip into the caramel and flick backwards and forwards over the rolling pin. The caramel strands will dry very quickly. Loosely gather up and mould the strands to suit the top of the cake.
When ready to serve the cake, take the spun sugar and cup loosely in your hands. Press ever so gently to form a ball and place on top.
A quite stunning cake for any age!
Fill the pan with water and boil until all the caramel has dissolved. Then clean the pan as usual.