This heart-shaped cake from baker Jane Brocket would make a fitting dessert for Valentine's Day or a wedding. (Get married on Valentine's Day and you have ticked both boxes). It makes a perfect wedding cake: it can be dressed up as little or as much as you like with coloured icing, floral decorations and it keeps
well for several days, allowing you to make it in advance.
INGREDIENTS (MAKES ONE CAKE, SERVES 18-20 PEOPLE)
275g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
finely grated zest of 1 lemon (unwaxed
or well washed)
220g caster sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
a small amount of pink or red food
colouring paste (optional)
sugar flowers, sprinkles, sweets, silver
balls, to decorate
FOR THE ICING
200–250g icing sugar
lemon juice or water, to mix
food colouring paste (optional)
You will need
a springform heart-shaped tin, about
24cm wide and 7cm deep, greased
with butter and base lined with
1/ Preheat the oven to 180°C (gas mark 4).
2/ Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl. Add the grated lemon zest and stir to mix.
3/ Put the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. With a wooden spoon or an electric whisk, cream them together until they are pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition.
4/ Add half the flour mix, half the buttermilk, plus the lemon juice and a little food colouring (if using), and fold in gently with a large metal spoon. Add the rest of the flour and buttermilk and continue to fold in until thoroughly and evenly combined, adding more pink or red colouring paste to get the shade you require. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface with the back of the spoon.
5/ Bake in the preheated oven for 50–55 minutes, but check the cake after 30–35 minutes to make sure it is not browning too quickly. If it is, place a double thickness of aluminium foil over the tin. The cake is ready when a metal skewer or sharp knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool. Remove from the tin, and leave to cool completely before icing.
6/ To make the glacé icing: sift 200g icing sugar into a bowl. Add a small amount of liquid and colouring paste (if using). With a knife or spatula, begin mixing, gradually adding more liquid until you have a smooth, not-too-runny icing that drops slowly off the spoon. Add more icing sugar and food colouring if necessary to obtain the required consistency and shade.
7/ To finish the cake, place it on a plate, stand or board and carefully level the surface of the cake by cutting off any excess, domed sponge with a serrated knife. (This is not essential and only needs to be done if you want a flat top to your cake.)
8/ With a palette knife, carefully spread the icing over the top of the cake, pushing it gently towards the edges and allowing it to run over the side if liked.
9/ As soon as you have finished icing the cake and before the icing or buttercream begins to set, decorate as desired.
STORAGE: Buttermilk cake keeps well for 2 days after making and can be made in advance and decorated just before serving. Wrap in foil and store in an airtight tin in a cool place.