Choosing the perfect cake for your event can be quite daunting, there are so many flavours; Red Velvet, Classic Vanilla, Lemon Madeira, Fruit Cake, Cheese Cake, Chocolate Cake, Carrot Cake, cake, cake, cake! Since we have been baking cakes and shooting them for our website this week, we figured we could lend some advice as to how to choose The Perfect Cake.
Photography: Mrs V
Cakes: Mrs V
Red Velvet Cake:
This cake contains buttermilk, baking soda and vinegar – which, if you went to primary school and ever built a volcano for a science class, you would know causes large amounts of smooth, soft bubbles – the cake’s smooth, velvety texture is a result of this combination. Together with large amounts of red food colouring (nope, no chemical reaction to cause that vivid colour, sorry!) is where the name of the cake comes from. This is a delicious classic, and is usually served with a cream cheese frosting. Ideal for the classic cake lover, who would love some chocolate undertones combined with a soft, fluffy texture.
A variety of recipes exist for this cake, with the only things in common being cheese and sugar. And LOTS of it! This scrumptious cake is thought to have originated in Ancient Greece or Rome, and was used as an offering at temples and to Olympic athletes. In general, cheesecake should have a soft, smooth yet firm texture. The predominant, classic flavour should be sweetened cheese (anything from ricotta to cream cheese and cottage cheese), with a hint of vanilla. Sometimes hints of lemon, orange, berries (or other fruits) or even chocolate is added for that extra special twist! This cake is definitely not recommended to someone who does not think cheese and cake can go together in one sentence.
This delicious cake is featured in our… well… “featured image” and should not be confused with the traditional Portuguese Bolo de Mel cake. Rather, this cake is of English origin, and was often enjoyed with Madeira wine – from there the Portuguese name. In older cook books, this cake is referred to as a “sand cake” or “pound cake” – which is an accurate description of both texture and recipe. The cake is much heavier than sponge cake and the texture is often quite crumbly, with the bits towards the centre being almost sticky and smooth (when pressed together, it forms a dough – not because it isn’t cooked through and through, but rather because it contains “a pound of butter”). It is a lovely golden colour, and can be flavoured with almost anything – of which the most popular is vanilla, lemon, sherry or brandy. The Lemon Madeira can stay fresh for up to two weeks, which makes it an ideal wedding cake. However, if you are a lover of soft, fluffy, super moist cake, then stay away from this one!
If you have heard of Devil’s Food Cake, and you still don’t know what it is, well… this is it! Good-old, traditional chocolate cake. This cake has such an extensive history, also with a variety of recipes – chocolate, cacao and sugar included in all of them. It really needs no introduction or fancy words to describe it, but in my opinion a chocolate cake should be fresh, soft and squishy and really, really moist. Almost to the point where it becomes a dough, dripping with flavour. It is often topped with ganache, caramel, or traditional chocolate-flavoured buttercream icing, and sometimes a cream filling or berry jam. Definitely a smashing hit for any event.
It is believed that this delightful dessert originated from the carrot and pumpkin puddings consumed in the Middle Ages, when sugars and sweeteners were hard to come by. This cake is not favoured by all, I often hear people complain that vegetables and cake should never be mentioned in the same conversation. Yet, if the flavour and texture is just right, and if it is topped with the perfect cream cheese frosting, this too can be a delicious serving of sugar. This cake should have a semi-soft, solid and relatively moist texture (due to the copious amounts of carrots and walnuts), with a hints of vanilla and spicy nutmeg and cinnamon, always in the correct relation to one another. This cake was underestimated for a long time, but is definitely making a comeback at weddings and other special events.
Vanilla sponge cake is a classic at school events – it was often bought by parents in a desperate attempt to feed an entire class in the event of a child’s birthday. Today, this classic cake is somewhat reinvented. The traditional texture was soft, spongy and moderately dry, but not crumbly, with a strong vanilla flavour. Today, so many flavours are added to this cake in order to make it a bit more exciting and memorable, such as coffee, toffee, caramel, berries and fruits. Yet the traditional vanilla and buttercream frosting still remains a favourite in many South African households.
Last, but not least: The Classic Fruit Cake. A favourite at many weddings, and at Christmas, filled with glazed fruits and flavoured with brandy, loved by many… er… who am I kidding? There is only one place where this cake belongs and that, my dear people, is in a bin! Sorry Dad 😉