Birthday Cake: Recipe & Piping Tutorial


It was my sister-in-laws birthday party last weekend (a significant one) We were having a family celebration and I made the cake (my area of speciality!!)


I made a buttermilk vanilla cake: this is a Nigella Lawson recipe, and I have used it often: it is sweet, but not too much so, and can hold the weight of icing where many sponges would falter and sink. I was sure I had blogged this recipe before, but I cannot find it, so here it is:

 Nigella Lawson’s Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

 250g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

200ml buttermilk (or 75g yogurt mixed with 125ml semi-skinned milk) 

1teaspoon vanilla essence

125g softened butter, plus extra for greasing

200g caster sugar

3 large free-range eggs


 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Paper and butter your cake tins.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate and salt together. 

Mix the buttermilk (or yogurt mixture) and vanilla in a jug.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a little of the flour with the last one. Gradually add the rest of the flour with the buttermilk, one after the other, until thoroughly mixed.

Pour into the tins and bake for about 30 minutes or until well risen and pale golden brown. Let sit for ten minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.



IMG_3529I made double this recipe, and made three cakes, in 22cm tins.

The icing was a combination of fondant/sugarpaste icing and vanilla frosting. The fondant roses I made the week before: I bought some coloured fondant and dyed plain white icing to get the colours I wanted. The roses are very simple: a quick search on YouTube will delight you with many techniques. The simpler the better: I made a cone of icing, then rolled a small ball which I flattened between two pieces of cling film, to make the thin petal. Then I wrapped these loosely around the cone to create the flower.


The frosting technique I saw on Pinterest a while ago: so super simple and so effective! I made up the frosting as per my instructions here.

Lightly cover the cake in a “crumb coat” which is a thin layer of frosting. Then, fill the piping bag, and pipe a line of blobs vertically down the side of the cake. Mine were approximately 2cm in diameter, and I fit six in a line. When you pipe the blobs of icing, spread it with the back of a knife or spatula. Then pipe the next line, spreading the frosting again. There will be a “seam” where the icing meets, mine wasn’t obvious, I was just careful to blend the icing when I came back around.

I rolled out blue fondant, cut a circle of this and placed it on the top of the cake, piped icing around the edges of this, and a circle of soft icing on the blue to hold the roses. Then arranged the roses in a wreath formation. Grace sprinkled some yellow sparkling sugar and we were done!