She talked about melting ingredients and things like the humidity of Queensland making it impossible to get the macaron's shine on, and how butter bursting from between the layers of croissant pastry dough while rolling was not uncommon.
If you know about Queensland, It happens to have at least 6 months of summer weather, and it's quite a tropical climate. Think hot and sticky. It's great holiday weather, but when it comes to baking, it can definitely mean struggle street.
So when my long time friend asked me to make a cake for his soon to be wife and his engagement party, I had flashbacks of oozing rolled fondant, sticky figurines and chocolate panels that melted in on cakes, sliding layers and butter cream icing that just wouldn't hold and all such nightmares. But my mouth said yes. Every time I make a fancy cake I swear I'm never going to do it again. The time and stress that goes into it, plus the unsatisfying results, which I like to blame on the weather, are part of this swearing.
So I was determined to think up a cake that could not melt, would not melt, and was simple, elegant and fancy enough to be an engagement cake--one that was doable with little people present and swinging from my legs.
It ended up being a two tier cake, the sides lined in sugar crusted savoiardi sponge fingers and tied with ribbon, topped with a gorgeous array of salmon coloured roses and green ferns (that did all the hard decorating work for me.)
2x 20cm round cake tins
2x 15cm cm round cake tins
3 cake mixes
A good quantity of thick butter icing (I used about 1 kg of icing sugar)
3-4 packets mini savoiardi fingers or sponge fingers (I bought 4 and used 3 but they do break easily so its good to have spares)
1.5 metres ribbon
2 dozen roses
small green florist island
a small flat dish
According to the instructions of your recipe or cake mix box, bake two 20cm cakes using two of the cake mixes. Divide the third cake mix evenly between the two smaller cake tins and bake.
When all the cakes have cooled and are ready for assembly, arrange the first of the 20cm cake on a cake board or cake stand. Lather the top with icing and proceed to place the second 20cm cake on top of this. Lather this layer with icing also. Continue with the remaining smaller cakes, ensuring that they are positioned directly in the centre of the larger cakes. Ice the top of the final layer. Ice the sides of the bottom layer of the cake, and carefully stick the savoiardi fingers neatly around the edges. Ice the second layer and repeat this process. The sponge fingers should hold together by themselves with the help of the icing, but you can tie both layers with ribbon for a pretty effect, and to ensure their stability.
On the day of serving, take the small flat dish and fill it with water. This dish should be small enough so that it is hidden by the roses once they are arranged. Cut the florist island to fit inside the dish. Allow the water to soak into the island. Cut the stems of the roses short and arrange over the top and the sides of the island. Hide any tell-tale green foam island popping through the edges with foliage from the rose stems, or some delicate ferns or gyp. Position the bouquet and dish on the top of the cake and refrigerate until serving time if your climate is a hot one. (The roses stay fresher in the refrigerator.)