Never never land

I have two fictional heroes.  Robin Hood and Peter Pan.  Random?  Perhaps.  So why?  There is something about their spirit of adventure that I love.  Robin Hood lives in the woods, fights amazingly with a bow and arrow (in my opinion, one of the coolest weapons), is totally carefree, and life just looks fun!  Peter Pan, again, completely carefree, can fly, life is full of adventure, and, most importantly, he never has to grow up.

When I turned 10, I remember crying because I didn’t want to become double figures.  I never wanted to grow up (and am not always convinced I still do now!).  One of the things I think I strive for in my life is to be more carefree and to see every day as a fun adventure.  Ok, so I don’t live in a tree house and I can’t fly, but I can make mundane and even daunting tasks into an adventure.  Adventure doesn’t come without a little bit of risk, a portion of the unknown and an element of challenge.

This week, my little baby turned four!  No longer a little baby.  Perhaps I don’t want her to grow up either.  This is something I am going to have to manage, so I decided I needed to find some way of providing myself a focus (or an adventure) so that the overall stress of a birthday party (especially in the wonderful, predictable summer we have in Britain) was not heightened by my own anxieties and wishes to remain a kid forever and never grow up.  My focus, distraction, adventure (whatever you want to call it) this year was the cake!  Back in January, Poppi said to me: “Mummy, for my fourth birthday I would like a rainbow, unicorn, smarties cake”.  Challenge on.  Challenge accepted.  Not only did this provide a great opportunity to stretch myself and an adventurous challenge (extended by the fact that we spent the Friday evening before the Sunday party in hospital again), but the cake itself was so beautifully fantastical it captured that essence of make-believe that I love!

So here it is:

Rainbow Unicorn Smarties Cake

First of all, you will need to make the sponges.  I have to admit (and I’m SO glad I did), I made these in advance and froze them.  You would never have known.  I just used a very basic sponge recipe that I learned when I was a kid – 6, 6, 6, 3.  What???  Basically, 6oz butter, 6oz sugar, 6oz flour, ad 3 eggs.  Sorry, that’s super imperial, so in 21st Century speak:

Whisk together 170g butter and 170g sugar until lighter in colour and all combined.

Add the 3 eggs one at a time and whisk to combine.

Sieve in 170g self-raising flour and fold in with a spatula (I also add about ½ tsp baking powder).

Divide into two and add an entire tube of Dr Oetker food colour gel.  This will make it really vibrant. 

Place each colour in a separate, lined and greased 6”/15 cm tin and cook for 25-30 minutes at 180°C.

I repeated this process 3 times to make the 5 layers, each with a different colour.  Obviously, this makes 6 cakes, so one spare to eat, give to a friend, or go for a really tall unicorn!

When all the cakes are cool, it’s time to level them and crumb coat.  I used a swiss meringue buttercream (I got the recipe from Pinterest) which was lovely to work with.

Once the crumb coat was on, it was time to make the horn, ears, and eyes.  Again thank goodness for Pinterest!  They were actually a lot more straight forward than I thought.  These needed to dry out for most of the day before painting them in edible gold paint.

When the crumb coat was set, it is time to do the final ice.  I’m not a perfect icer, but I did my best!

And then the real fun begins.  By putting stripes of food colouring down the inside of the piping bag you get this amazing rainbow effect.  Job done.

So, that was my little adventure for the week.  Second star to the right and straight on till morning.  See you there.

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