Alright amblers? It’s been a busy time lately over at UB HQ; I’ve been experimenting with boozy cakes, making spectacular birthday creations and planning some spicy future endeavours. I have however found some time to catch up on my new favourite blog ‘Comme Un Lait Fraise’ by Fanny Zanotti. Zanotti is a French pastry chef working at the esteemed Chiltern Firehouse in London. Her blog is packed full of professional tips and recipes but is also a personal account of her life in London and the beautiful imagery and illustration make it a delight to read.
My top tips this month are all about naked cakes. Naked and semi-naked cakes are becoming increasingly more popular, especially for wedding cakes. They may seem simple enough, but because they’re so stripped back there’s little room for error.
To start off, you want to use a sponge recipe that you know is reliable and durable; it needs to be structurally sound, as you can’t rely on buttercream to cover any sins and a crumbly cake will make life way more difficult than it needs to be.
Next, you need to get your buttercream the right consistency. It needs to be quite soft and spreadable to get good coverage on the outside without being patchy. If it’s too firm, you won’t get a smooth effect around the outside and it’ll most likely just fall off. You can, however, use a firmer buttercream between the layers to give the cake more stability.
Once the layers are assembled I normally pipe a little of the softer buttercream around where each layer meets and use a scraper to spread it evenly around the cake. At this point, it’s personal preference as to how naked you want the cake to look.
It’s worth noting that, as the buttercream works as a seal, a naked or semi-naked cake will become stale much quicker than a regular cake. If I’m making one for an event I will tend to err on the side of caution and use a little more buttercream for coverage to make it last longer.
I’ve also managed to find some time this month to stop by Jaunty Goat’s new all-vegan venture on Northgate Street. I love the bright open space and the convenient tables for one by the window, perfect for that solo morning coffee. I thought the clean colour palette and the sheer amount of greenery in there really sang of the plant-based menu and set the scene and I appreciated the selection of alternative milk for your coffee.
I selected the hand brew of the day, as recommended by our delightful and knowledgeable waitress (there’s a reason they’ve won awards for their customer service), which was served at the table through a drip filter. It was light, fruity and full-bodied like a good Beaujolais and very easy to drink. Highly recommended for those looking for an easy-on-the-pallette coffee. I paired this with one of their carrot muffins. I was immediately drawn to the rustic style of the muffin with banana chips and pumpkin seeds decorating the top. It had a lot of flavour and was packed full of nuts, which I loved, however, I did find it a little dry. This could easily be improved with a little more oil in the mix or even some orange juice soaked into the carrot for an extra burst of flavour. In my opinion, there is a little room for improvement, but I’ll definitely be back for more in the future.
As summer feels as if it’s fast approaching, I’ll soon be making plans for some brighter, less wintery bakes. Watch this space for some chilli creations and hopefully a bit of sunshine!