Katherine Sabbath's Birthday Cake

This vibrant layered vanilla birthday cake is stacked with sweet swiss meringue buttercream and is topped with raspberry and white chocolate bark

Recipe by: Katherine Sabbath


White Vanilla Cake:

Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

Raspberry Chocolate Bark:

Cake Decoration:

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  1. Preheat ovens to 170C.
  2. For the White Vanilla Cake, grease and line the base and sides of 3 x 16cm cake tins. Ensure that the baking paper around the edge of each tin is 5cm higher than the cake tins.
  3. Place the flour and salt into a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on speed 2 to combine. With the mixer running on speed 2, slowly add in the sugar. With the mixer still running, gradually add the cold butter, one knob at a time, then increase mixer speed to speed 3 and continue to beat until fully combined.
  4. Place the milk, vanilla, lemon juice and egg whites into a medium pouring jug and whisk well to combine.
  5. Increase the stand mixer speed 4 and, with the mixer running, slowly add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, then beat until combined, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides and the base of the bowl occasionally.
  6. Pour 550g of the mixture into each of the prepared cake tins. Wrap soaked baking strips around the tins.
  7. Place 2 of the cakes into one of the ovens preheated to 170C, and the remaining cake into the second oven at 170C and bake until a skewer comes out clean when inserted, about 55-60 minutes.
  8. Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Turn the cakes out, face down, onto a wire rack then carefully remove the baking paper. Set aside on the bench to cool until needed.
  9. For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream, half fill a medium saucepan with water, place over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  10. Place the sugar and egg whites into a medium sized glass bowl. Set the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.
  11. Transfer the egg white mixture to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  12. Gradually add the butter to the mixer, one third at a time, ensuring butter is fully incorporated before each addition.
  13. The mixture will appear split, however, continue to whisk until the mixture comes together and becomes light and fluffy with no air bubbles remaining.
  14. Add the vanilla and whisk until fully incorporated.
  15. Take half of the buttercream from the mixer bowl and divide this mixture evenly between 2 bowls. Set aside until needed.
  16. Gradually add the pink gel food colouring to the buttercream remaining in the stand mixer bowl and whisk until the desired pink colour is achieved, about 12-15 drops. Add the raspberry pieces and whisk until combined. Transfer the raspberry buttercream to a piping bag and set aside in a cool spot on the bench until needed.
  17. Gradually add pink colouring to one of the reserved bowls of buttercream and stir until the desired pink colour is achieved, about 8-10 drops. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with an open 11mm circle tip. Gently shake the piping bag to remove air pockets and push the buttercream down to the tip. Set aside on the bench until needed.
  18. Gradually add the white gel food colouring to the remaining bowl of meringue buttercream until the desired white colour is achieved. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with an open 11mm circle tip. Gently shake the piping bag to remove air pockets and push the buttercream down to the tip. Set aside on the bench until needed.
  19. For the Raspberry Chocolate Bark, place a 28cm x 41cm baking tray lined with acetate ready on the bench.
  20. Place the white chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Microwave the chocolate in 30-second bursts, until 2/3 of the chocolate is melted, stirring at each interval. Once 2/3 of the chocolate is melted, remove from the microwave and continue to stir the chocolate until the remaining chocolate is melted. Add the titanium dioxide then use a stick blender to blitz the chocolate until fully combined.
  21. Working quickly, measure out 150g of the melted chocolate into a separate bowl and reserve for later use.
  22. Pour the remaining melted white chocolate into the lined baking tray and use an offset metal spatula so spread the chocolate out thinly in an even layer, about 2mm thick. Gently tap the tray on the bench to help the chocolate level and spread out thinly and evenly over the tray.
  23. Take the reserved 150g of melted chocolate. Add drops of the pink colouring and mix until a desired colour is achieved.
  24. Using a spoon, dollop the pink chocolate randomly on to the white chocolate layer. Use a skewer to swirl the pink chocolate through the white chocolate to create a swirl pattern.
  25. Scatter a few whole freeze dried raspberries on to the chocolate in several clusters, ensuring parts of the swirl pattern are still visible. Gently break up the remaining freeze dried raspberry pieces and scatter in clusters over the chocolate, ensuring parts of the swirl pattern are uncovered and still visible. Give the tray a gentle shake to allow the raspberries to set into the chocolate.
  26. Set tray aside in the fridge to cool completely and set, about 1 hour. Keep in the fridge until needed.
To Assemble
  1. To finish the White Vanilla Cake, once completely cool, carefully transfer the cakes onto a clean board.
  2. Use a sharp, long knife to cut the tops off the cakes and level if required. Use a cake leveller to slice each cake into 2 even layers.
  3. To assemble the Cake, snip the tip of the piping bag of raspberry buttercream to about 3cm wide. Pipe a dollop of the raspberry buttercream on the centre of the cake board set on a turntable.
  4. Place a bottom layer of one of the cakes, base side down, onto the dollop of buttercream on the cake board to secure, ensuring it is centred. Place the stone base plate onto the turntable, ensuring it is centred.
  5. Starting from the outer edge, pipe to cover the base layer with some freeze-dried raspberry buttercream to about 1cm thick. Use a medium offset palette knife to spread out the buttercream an even layer to the edge of the cake. Gently press 12 halves of fresh raspberry, cut side down, into the buttercream layer.
  6. Place the second layer of cake on top and repeat this process until the last cake layer is assembled, ensuring that the final layer is a cake base facing upwards to create a level surface on top.
  7. Use a large offset spatula and a cake scraper, to gently crumb coat the cake completely with one single, thin layer of the remaining raspberry buttercream.
  8. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top of the cake by gently pulling inwards from the outer edges of the cake into the centre.
  9. Place into the blast chiller to firm up slightly, at least 3 minutes.
  10. To finish the Raspberry Chocolate Shards, remove tray from the fridge. Transfer layer of chocolate onto a clean chopping board. Break the chocolate into shards.
  11. To finish icing the cake, remove from blast chiller and return to the cake turntable. Turning the turntable as you go, pipe a strip of the pink buttercream right around the bottom edge of the cake. Working upwards, continue this process, alternating between the pink and white buttercreams to achieve 12-13 stripes. Each stripe should be about 1cm thick, with the top stripe being pink.
  12. Working from the outside edge inwards, fill the top of the cake by piping a layer of pink buttercream. Smooth over the surface using an offset spatula, gently pulling inwards from the outer edges of the cake into the centre.
  13. Take the cake scraper and place the sharp side against the side of the cake, ensuring the base of the scraper is sitting flat on the cake base plate. Slowly turn the cake stand to scrape the side of the cake with the scraper, to blend the lines of white and pink buttercream together and form flat stripes. Scrape excess buttercream off the scraper.
  14. Turning the turntable, scrape the buttercream several more times, all the way around the side of the cake, until the side of the cake is smooth and even. Scrape excess buttercream off the scraper after each scrape of the cake.
  15. Continue this process, filling any gaps with extra buttercream, until a smooth, striped effect is achieved.
  16. Use an offset spatula to smooth and level the top of the cake by gently pulling inwards from the outer edges of the cake into the centre, cleaning the spatula with paper towel to remove excess buttercream after every scrape.
  17. To finish, top with shards of Raspberry Chocolate Bark, gently pressing in to the top of the cake to secure. Place fresh raspberries next to and behind each piece of bark to support the shards. Place the finished cake on the stone base plate on to the white presentation platter.
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