Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 20-25 minutes
Decorating time 30 minutes with an hours chilling time
It helps to place the cakes on a cake drum the same size as the cakes (8” round) as this will enable you to get a neater crumb coat as it gives you something to work against with your palette knife and side scraper. Ideally use a medium crank handled palette knife, and it you have one (not essential) a side scraper really helps to get a nice flat and smooth icing.
For the sponge cakes
300g soft salted butter, at room temp
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
300g golden caster sugar
6 medium free range eggs
300g self-raising flour with 2 tsp baking powder whisked into it
For the buttercream frosting
400g soft unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
800g superfine icing sugar
Food colourings of your choice, a mix of blue and green looks lovely to give a duck egg blue effect, but any pastel spring colours will work.
For the speckling
1tsp cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
Mini eggs to decorate (optional – you can make a shredded nest to sit on top too if you fancy!)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan.
Grease and line 3 x 8” round cake tins on the base and sides (or repeat as needed)
For the sponge
In a stand mixer bowl with a paddle beater attachment or large bowl using a hand whisk, beat the butter, vanilla and sugar on fast speed until really light, pale and creamy. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl down as needed throughout.
Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until combined on a slow speed. Lastly add the flour in increments of 3, beating very slowly until only just mixed. Do not over beat.
Pop a third of the batter mix into each tin (I always weigh mine so they are even) and bake for around 20-25 minutes until the sponges are springy, light golden and cooked in the centre completely.
Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack, remove the paper and allow to cool. While the cakes are cooling make your frosting.
For the frosting
Place the butter and vanilla in your stand mixer bowl with the paddle beater or use a bowl with a hand whisk and beat on high until very creamy and smooth, for a minute or so
Gradually add the icing sugar, about a quarter at a time, beating each addition on slow first so the icing sugar doesn’t puff up everywhere, once combined turn to high speed for a minute or so each time
A good tip to ensure your butter cream is creamy and fluffy - add a tablespoon of just boiled water into the bowl with each addition of the sugar, mix it on slow then turn up to high
Add a little food colouring until you get a lovely pastel shade. Set aside, covering with cling or a damp clean cloth to prevent it crusting over.
To assemble and decorate
Place the bottom layer onto your stand or plate and spread over a layer of frosting.
Top with a second layer of sponge and repeat with a layer of frosting. Make sure it all looks in line and nice and straight.
Place the last layer on top and with a palette knife; generously spread some of the frosting all around the sides of the cake first (this allows you to be able to hold the top of the cake still while you work around the cake. Use a gentle pressure against the side of the cake with the palette knife and use a back and forth spreading motion to spread the coating over the sides.
Once the side is covered, spread a nice even layer over the top of the cake
Once the whole cake is covered, clean the palette knife and go around the cake again to smooth off the excess covering, spreading it until you are happy that it’s nice and neat. If you have a side scraper, use this to give a final sweep around the sides and top of the cake so it’s really flat and sharp. This is a crumb coat, which is a good base to work on to give a neat finish. Pop this into the fridge to chill and firm up for an hour.
For your final layer, repeat the crumb coating process as above, but using a slightly thicker coating. Paddle around the side and over the top until you are happy with the covering. Pop in the fridge for a further 20-30 mins to firm up.
Mix the cocoa and vanilla extract together to make a thick liquid, and using a clean paintbrush or pastry brush, bend back the bristles and ‘flick’ the chocolaty liquid up against the sides and over the top of the cake until you have a lovely speckled pattern. The cake looks lovely just in it’s speckled covering, but for a fun Easter twist create a little nest on the top by crumbling flaked chocolate and adding eggs to the middle or if you fancy, making a nest using shredded wheat it looks really cool. To make mine I used a semi circle silicone mould but you can also use a small bowl, greased and lined with cling.
Press into the moulds and allow to be a little rustic at the top to form nests. Leave to set in the freezer or fridge. Fill with mini eggs, I used both Cadbury and M&M’s mini eggs.