I recently started working with a brilliant local charity called Free Cakes for Kids Hackney.
It matches up willing volunteer bakers (like myself) with children who are in difficult situations who otherwise wouldn’t get a birthday cake.
Requests for cakes are sent out every couple of weeks and for this one I was told the cake needed to be for a six-year old boy who supported Arsenal.
Having an Arsenal-obsessed fiancee meant I had some spare Arsenal logos at the flat so decided to go for a simple football-shaped cake design. These are made from rice paper (I bought them on Amazon) and you just need to cut the logos out with scissors and they can stick onto a cake with a little bit of water or buttercream.
The cake underneath is a Victoria sponge and the entire thing was relatively easy to do and ideal for any football-loving children (or adults).
For the sponge:
250g self raising flour
250g soft unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
4 large free range eggs
2tsp vanilla essence
50ml whole milk
100g (or three big tablespoons) of raspberry jam
For the icing:
200g soft unsalted butter
500g icing sugar
250g white fondant icing
250g black fondant icing
Green food dye
How to make…
Line three 7inch cake tins with baking paper and set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
Beat together the butter and sugar until you have a thick, whipped mixture (around 3 minutes with an electric beater, five without. Add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla essence (don’t panic if the mixture looks a bit curdled.
Sieve the flour into the mixture and carry on stirring until everything is combined. Slowly pour in the milk and a small pinch of salt until the mixture is smooth with no lumps.
Pour into the three cake tins evenly and bake for 20 minutes, or until the sponge springs back to your touch.
Set aside and leave to cool completely. Then make your buttercream by beating the butter, sugar and milk together until they’ve combined into a thick whipped consistency. You need the icing to be thick enough so it will stay in place on the cake – feel free to add more icing if it looks too runny.
Start to layer the cakes, adding jam to the middle with a rim of buttercream. Once you have all three stacked.
Next (this is a bit fiddly), hold the cakes in one hand and slowly cut a slanted rim (which will be the curve of the cake) from around the top layer.
Then cover the outside of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream util you’ve covered all the cake mixture. This is the crumb coating and it’s designed to keep all the crumbs in place. Once you’ve covered the outer layer with buttercream put the whole thing into the fridge for at least one hour.
When you’ve got about 10 minutes to go, measure out the shape of a pentagon onto baking paper. As you can see from my cake I didn’t do this and only realised afterwards I had a hexacon (which isn’t technically correct).
Kneed the black icing for a few minutes in your hands and then roll out to the size of a £1 coin. Use a sharp knife to cut out eight pentagon shapes and then set aside.
Wash your hands (and the surface) and get the while fondant out and knead for a few minutes before rolling out into a large round circle of a £1cm thickness. This needs to be big enough to sit over your cake. Get your cake out of the fridge and place the fondant over the top. Use your hands to smooth the cake out and fit the icing to it, and then with a sharp knife cut off any excess (keep this for later).
This bit can take quite a bit of time to make the cake smooth (I actually use a professional cake smoother but you can do it with your hands).
Next stick the black pentagons onto the football, using water as glue. Try and place them evenly apart and on the while spaces in between you can place the football logos (stick on with a little bit of buttercream or water).
Finally, use the left over fondant icing strands you cut off the cake and add a little bit of green food dye to them before mixing the two together. Then take small pieces of the green icing and stick to the cake boards to make the pitch.