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I have a date with Spring.

What a perfect weather last weekend to celebrate Father’s Day here in Australia and the first day of Spring definitely didn’t disappoint. Coincidentally it was also our friend Big Dave’s 50th Birthday last weekend and we decided to keep it a small celebration for his big day, so we hired a house boat and spent a relaxing weekend cruising down Hawkesbury River. I am sure you already knew that if you have been following my instagram stream.

And if you have been following my facebook page, then you would’ve also known that I have just revamped and launched my own Billy Law website last week. Go and check it out if you like, but the best part is – I have also set up a forum on the website called “Have You Eaten?” Baking Club where we will share recipes, baking tips, and most importantly, we will also host monthly Bake Off challenge where I would like you to join in the fun!

When I set myself a challenge to bake a cake for my friend’s birthday, I knew that this recipe would be a great one for this month Bake Off challenge. One stone, two birds, perfect. Here it is, our September’s bake off challenge is Ombre Cake.

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An Ombre Cake is basically a cake cleverly constructed with many cake layers in one single colour gradient. Sometimes the gradient effect can be carry out from the cake layers inside to the icing on the outside. So for this month challenge, I would like you to create your own ombre cake however you like. You do not have to copy my style of icing and decoration, show us your creativity, make a pink one, use fondant to cover the cake instead of icing, the possibilities are endless.

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For the cake itself is pretty straight forward, it is just normal butter cake with added food colouring in different quantity on different layers to create that gradient effect. Same for the icing, it is just buttercream icing with food colouring. I have seen this petal icing technique on various blogs and usually the icing smear is around the circumference of the cake. But instead of doing that, I decided to smear the icing upward so that it gives me the ocean ripple effect that ties in with my cake decoration of my friend and his dog padding on a boat perfectly.

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If you are planning to make an ombre cake, please do consider to join our Baking Club monthly bake off challenge and share your creation with us! And for those who already joined, I can’t wait to see your beautiful ombre cake! Let the bake off begin!

Ombre Cake

Serves 8-10

For the cake
200g self raising flour
150g all-purpose plain flour
a pinch of salt
300g caster sugar
200g unsalted butter, softened
4 medium eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract/paste
200ml milk
Food colouring paste (colour of your choice)

Icing for the inside
500g icing sugar, sifted
250g salted butter
2 tablespoon milk

Icing for decoration
500g icing sugar, sifted
250g salted butter
2 tablespoon milk
Food colouring paste (colour of your choice)

Method

1. Best to bake the cake a day prior icing. Preheat oven at 180C (350F). Grease and line 4 x 20cm cake tins with baking paper. Don’t worry if you just have one cake tin, you just have to bake each layer separately. Sift both flour and salt into a mixing bowl.

2. Beat butter and sugar in a food mixer on high speed until pale and light. Turn the speed down to low and add eggs one at a time, beaten well after each addition. Add vanilla extract and mix well. Alternately add flour and milk into the mixture. Beat until smooth and lumps free.

3. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions. Add a tiny small dab of food colouring to each bowl and fold it into the mixture. Then gradually add more colouring to each bowl from a dab to almost half a teaspoon until you get an even gradient of colour among the four mixtures.

4. Pour batter into cake tins, bake each layer for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre and comes out clean. If you are baking two cakes at the same time, swap the baking trays half way through baking. Once done, let cakes cool in tins for 5 minutes, then tip out and onto wire racks to cool completely before icing.

5. To make the buttercream icing, beat butter with a food mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, turn the speed down to low, one tablespoon at a time, add icing sugar slowly, beaten well after each addition. Add milk and beat until well combined.

6. Prepare cake for icing, trim the tops and sides to make sure all layers are same size, level and flat. Start from the cake layer with the darkest colour, put a big dollop of icing on top then spread it with a palette knife evenly to make sure the whole top is covered and level. Place the second darkest colour on top, and repeat with more icing, cake, icing and finally the lightest colour cake on top. Now ice the whole cake and make sure the sides and top are smooth with icing. Transfer the cake to refrigerator and let it set for at least 2 hours.

7. When you are ready to decorate the cake, make another batch of icing as Step 5. Divide the icing into 3 or 4 equal portions (totally up to you), add different amount of food colouring to each portion, from a tiny bit to half a teaspoon and mix well to create an even gradient of colour among the four icings. Transfer each icing into different piping bags with a 1A round piping tip.

8. Alternate among colours, pipe a dollop of icing of each colour in one straight line on the cake vertically, or around the cake. Then use a cake palette knife, dab the tip of the knife at half way point of the icing, (if you are doing vertically line) smear sideway (horizontally) to create a teardrop shape. (If you are doing around the cake, smear the icing upward to create a teardrop shape). Then pipe more icing, overlapping the previous teardrop icing, about 1/3 from the tail end. Then repeat the process until the whole cake is iced.

9. Decorate however you like.