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Recipe: Stylist's 200th issue cake

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Swapping mixing desks for mixing bowls, BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne turns Food Editor to bake us a birthday cake

It speaks volumes that the kitchen appliance I’m most familiar with is a microwave. Or maybe the cork screw. At least it was until I took part in a Comic Relief challenge this March, cooking solidly at home for two weeks (my husband was sponsored to endure it and not die). At one point I made a chocolate cake that tasted like a shoe. It genuinely looked like a road accident so I put a sad face of raspberries on top. But with friends like Lisa Faulkner sending me easy recipes to try – quiches, pies, nana cakes – I improved and now I love it. The indie world is quite ‘bakey’. The 6 Music Breakfast Show even held a competition to mark the end of Breaking Bad called ‘Baking Bad’. I successfully made chocolate brownies. Saying that, I’m nervous about icing my Confetti Cake – it’s a precise art. But I always feel better with glitter and heels on so, sprinkles in hand, let’s hope the same applies.

When I interviewed Jamie Oliver recently I used it as a sneaky way to get advice. He said making the same thing on repeat helps you perfect a recipe. Now, after several attempts, I make a cracking banana loaf. Unfortunately The Primrose Bakery Confetti Cake isn’t something I’ve practised so here goes, this could go either way people! Here’s how to do it…

Ingredients

Cake mix (makes one 3-layer 20cm cake)

  • 315g self-raising flour
  • 35g cornflour
  • 1 ½ tsps baking powder
  • 335g golden caster sugar
  • 6 large free range eggs
  • 335g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 5 tbsps milk
  • 1½ tsps good quality vanilla extract
  • ¾ tsp red food colouring
  • 1 ½ tbsps hundreds and thousands

Pink vanilla buttercream icing:

  • 230g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 120ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 2 tsps quality vanilla extract
  • 1kg icing sugar, sifted
  • food colouring and sprinkles

Method

step 1: Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Then put the flour, cornflour, baking powder and sugar in a mixer and combine. I’ve never used one before – usually I use this guy and this guy [flexes arm muscles].

Step 2: Add the eggs, butter, milk and vanilla extract then pulse but don’t over-mix. If you accidentally drop in egg shell, get another bit of shell to scoop it out as they’re magnetic. I love that tip. Works every time.

Step 3: Divide the batter between three identical bowls. Weigh them to ensure you end up with three equal-sized sponge layers. Trust me, baking is like chemistry; as long as you follow the recipe it will be all right.

Step 4: Add ½ tbsp sprinkles to each bowl. People have mega fetishes for the stuff. Then, for different shades of sponge, add ¼ tsp red food colouring to one bowl, ½ tsp to another and beat. Leave the third uncoloured.

Step 5: Pour the batter into three greased and lined 20cm sandwich tins and put in the pre-heated oven. If all three won’t go on the middle shelf, rotate them while baking. I have to wash up now or I’ll get stressed.

Step 6: Bake for 20-25 minutes. Test whether they’re done by skewering each cake; when it comes out clear, they’re cooked. Once removed, leave them in their tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Step 7: For the icing, beat the butter, milk, vanilla and half the icing sugar for a couple of minutes until it’s a smooth, creamy consistency. Add the rest plus food colouring to reach the desired shade and mix.

Step 8: When the cakes are cool, remove the greased paper and put the first layer of sponge on a plate. Spread with 1 cm of buttercream. add a second layer of sponge and repeat to make a three-tier cake tower.

Step 9: Finally, cover the sides and top of the cake with buttercream, spreading evenly with a spatula. Decorate with more sprinkles – hell, go crazy – then stand back and admire your work. Good job team.

Primrose Bakery Celebrations (£20, Square Peg) is out now

When Lauren appeared on our Issue 35 (June 2010) cover she was six months pregnant and off to Glastonbury for the BBC. When we met again in 2012, the mum of two was still spinning several radio, TV and national paper-shaped plates. How she managed to find time to bake us a cake we have no idea. #Stylist200

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