Ombre is something I would once only consider doing on my hair with blonde highlights on the end to create the look of dunking my whole heat into a paint tin.
However, it’s now moved into the realms of cake making and my first attempt at icing with it was on a large, dense carrot and cinnamon cake I made for a housewarming present for a friend of mine.
I am by non means an artist and found it relatively easy so if you’re also a newbie to this icing style, don’t be afraid.
The best way to to it is by having a lot of icing. The more you have the easier it will be to correct mistakes and start again.
Before you even unload the icing sugar, decide what colours you are going to use and get everything out ready. Organisation and a good spatula will help you above anything else.
The recipe for the cake is here (which I’ve also done several times in a loaf version) and the full ombre instructions will be up on the blog separately soon.
250g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarb of soda
100g caster sugar
75g light brown sugar
350g grated carrots
150ml vegetable oil
2 tsps cinnamon
2 tsps ground spice
100g chopped walnut halves
200g full fat cream cheese
500g icing sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Your chosen colours of food icing
50g walnut halves
How to make…
Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
Line two baking tins of 8-9inches around the sides and the bottom with baking paper and a smear of butter (or a loaf tin).
Blend together the oil and sugars until everything is mixed in. Add the eggs one at a time and then the buttermilk.
Sieve all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl (or into the bowl with the wet stuff in) and then mix again until everything is combined. This takes around a minute with an electric mixer and twice without.
Fold in the carrots (don’t blend or you’ll liquidise them), the walnuts and sultanas and then divide between the two tins.
Bash each tin a few times on your kitchen counter to get rid of the air bubbles and then pop both tins into the oven on the same level.
Cook for 40 minutes until a sharp knife inserted into the middle comes away clean. Then remove from the oven and wait until the cakes are completely cold before starting the icing.
Now, when it comes to the icing it’s really up to you. You can either just stick with the buttercream and cream cheese version which looks like a traditional carrot cake or you can go for the rainbow-coloured version.
I decided to use ombre colours on this occasion as it was for a special occasion but usually I would opt for the vanilla-coloured option.
Either way you need to make the icing in the same way. Blend the butter and sugar first until light and fluffy – five minutes on an electric mixer and 7-8 by hand (depending on your upper arm strength). Add in the cream cheese and cinnamon and mix again until everything is smooth and nicely combined.
Plop on top of the first half of the cake and then lay the second half on top and cover the top with the rest of the icing. A heated spatula (run it under the hot water tap) will help you to make it look smooth and beautiful.
Sprinkle on top the chopped walnuts and petals to complete the look.
To make the ombre colouring in brief (a full post is on its way), once you’ve got your finished icing, divide it into three separate bowls and colour each.
A spinning cake stand is useful for doing this part as to create the look you need to effectively pile on each colour, in layers around the cake. It won’t look pretty at first as you are simply piling on the icing as if you were plastering a wall and you should end up with three layers around the outsides, and on top.
I’ve only used two colours in this picture below because the cake is only two layers and isn’t high enough but depending on the height, you could have three or four different colours.
Next take a hot spatula and run it around the outside of the cake. It will smooth the edges and blend the colours together so they start to run into each other. This creates the ombre colour effect and the longer you spend with the spatula, the better the overall effect.
It’s not about making it look perfect, it’s about making sure the colours work together, and you’ve got a smooth edge on the icing – which can only be achieved with a hot metal spatula.
A full post with pics and a video will be up on the site first so this is just the brief version to experiment with.