This buttercream stripe effect is really easy to do, but so effective and really customisable to whatever theme you are baking for. Britt Box (shewhobakes.co.uk) shows you how...
I find this effect looks best on deep or double-height cakes, but with thin enough stripes it would also look great on a single-tiered cake. I’ve used two 18cm (7in) round vanilla cakes stacked on top of one another for this project. I find a Madeira recipe is sturdy enough to stack the cake in this way without needing dowels, plus it stands up to the several coats of buttercream!
For the Madeira cake
(Double if making a double-height cake) • 200g (7oz) caster sugar • 200g (7oz) unsalted butter/Stork • 4 free-range eggs • 200g (7oz) self-raising flour • 50g (1¾oz) plain flour • 1 tsp vanilla
1 Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 2½. Cream together the butter/Stork and caster sugar. Add the eggs and mix well.
2 Add the self-raising flour and plain flour and mix again.
3 Finally, add the vanilla and mix for 2-4 minutes.
4 Either pour the single mixture into a lined 18cm (7in) tin, or divide into two 18cm (7in) tins if you have doubled the recipe.
5 Bake for 1 hour 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool upside down on greaseproof paper.
6 Once cooled, double wrap well in clingfilm until you’re ready to use. I always bake my cakes the day before I’m going to split into them and decorate them to allow them to firm up slightly.
For the buttercream
To create this cake design, you’re going to need more buttercream than usual – to fill the cake, to crumb-coat the cake (spread onto the outside to keep air out), plus the additional buttercream to create the striped design. To split, fill and create two layers of crumb-coat on a double-height 18cm (7in) round cake you will need:
• 500g (1lb 1oz) unsalted butter • 1kg (2lb 2oz) icing sugar • 2 tsp flavouring of your choice (I used vanilla)
1 Cream the butter until it is soft. Slowly add the icing sugar until combined, then add the vanilla and mix well.
2 Transfer to a bowl and cover with clingfilm until you are ready to use it.
Create and decorate
To create a pattern of two colour stripes on a double-height 18cm (7in) round cake, you will need an additional:
• 300g (10½oz) unsalted butter • 600g (1lb 4oz) icing sugar • 1 tsp flavouring of your choice • gel food colours of your choice (I used Sugarflair Ice Blue and Pink)
1 Follow the method as before, then colour as desired. You may need to adjust this recipe accordingly if you are using a single layer/bigger cake or adding more stripes.
2 For the striped buttercream, you can use whatever colours or flavours you like. I have chosen pink and blue as I really like how they look together. I highly recommend using a gel food colouring as opposed to a water-based food colouring – you won’t get such a vivid colour and you’ll have to use so much colour that it may cause the buttercream to split and it needs to be nice and firm for this.
3 Once you have all of your buttercream made and ready, level the tops of your cakes using a cake leveller. Then, flip the cakes upside down (I always use the bottom of the cake as the top) and split them twice to make 2 layers of filling and 3 layers of cake.
4 Set your first cake layer onto a cake board, then alternate with layers of buttercream, spreading it on evenly with a palette knife. Top with a cake slice, then add more buttercream and continue until you have 6 layers of cake and 5 layers of buttercream. Pop this in the fridge to firm up for 10 minutes. If the buttercream is a little stiff, dip the palette knife in a glass of hot water.
5 To crumb-coat the cake, spoon a couple of tablespoons of buttercream on top of the cake and, using the palette knife, smooth it down over the top and the sides. Use a large side scraper to take off any excess. Leave this to chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Once chilled, repeat the process with a second layer of crumb-coat, but make this thinner than the first. This is simply to go over any bits you may have missed and smooth out any rough edges. Chill in the fridge again for a further 10 minutes.
6 Meanwhile, prepare the buttercream stripe colours by spooning them into piping bags. You can use plain round nozzles for this, but I also find just cutting off the end of the piping bag does the trick just as well (with less washing up!).
7 Take the cake out of the fridge and put it on a spinning turntable, if you have one. Then, pipe lines of alternating colours around the cake, starting from the bottom until you reach the top edge. Don’t do the top of the cake just yet. Don’t worry about doing one long line of buttercream either, if you need to stop and carry on, that’s absolutely fine.
8 Then, using a large side scraper, gently press into the cake and spin the turntable, taking off a little excess buttercream and smoothing down the lines. Repeat until you are happy with the finish. You may need to add additional blobs of buttercream where colour has overlapped or where there are any missing bits. Smooth again.
9 Once the sides are finished, pipe alternating circles of colour until you reach the middle. Use a palette knife to smooth this down the same way, while spinning the turntable. If you don’t have a turntable you can just keep turning the cake board on the work surface, but I do find having one really helps with this.
10 Use a palette knife to smooth any rough sections down, then decorate as desired. I’ve used matching colour sprinkles around the base of the cake as well as on top. Once finished, leave to set in a cool, dry room. Once set, this cake will last 4-5 days if stored in a cool place. I don’t recommend storing it in the fridge as this can dry the sponge out. Once cut, make sure it’s wrapped well and it will last 3-4 days.
You can also add a chocolate drip or drizzle, top with fruit or modelled animals, or match colours to any event. There’s so much you can do with this design, so have fun with it!