So if you’ve checked out my post about my daughter’s Dora the explorer 3rd birthday party over here, you’d have noted the crazy colourful birthday cake, as well the Estrella (star shaped) cookies used as part of the Thank-you take-homes. Both of which, I thought, are SO Dora…colourful, vibrant and fun!
Fortunately they are also quite delicious – even if I say so myself. The fact that my cakes normally get polished off real fast at a party, leads me to believe that maybe “I gotz skillz”! Or maybe people were just very… very hungry and desperate for anything to eat. But I prefer the former, so lets not dwell on that, shall we!
It is also my mother’s recipe. And as far as Im concerned, no one bakes better than her. So I can confidently share the recipe with you, knowing it’s a win!
Vanilla cake recipe
-3 large (or 4 small) eggs
-1 cup sugar
-450ml Cake flour
-3 (to 4) rounded teaspoons Baking Powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1. Preheat your oven to 180’c
2. Cream the marg and sugar together. (If marg is too hard, soften it slightly with some heat)
3. Once creamed well, add one egg at a time, and mix in well before the next egg.
4. Mix flour, baking powder and salt, and gently sift in the cake mixtue, batch by batch, and gently fold it into the mixture. Ensure each batch of flour has been completely and smoothly folded into mixture before sifting next batch.
5. Mix in vanilla essence.
6. Add milk bit by bit, gently mixing in between. If mixture is already runny, there is no need to add milk at all. There may be no need to add the entire measurement of milk. Just use what you need.
The batter should have a smooth and soft consistency. Not stiff, and not running – just firm but gently moulds itself to a flattened state, after geing moved.(If that makes sense.)
7. Now for the rainbow effect, you essentially just split the batter up as equally as you can, and colour each batch with the specific colour that you prefer. Now, Im not know for precision in most things. Some things yes, then Im absolutely anal about it, but mostly not. So if you were expecting me to give you exact measurments on the ml’s for batter per layer…errrrr, sorry, wrong blog. I’m more of your slap dash baker variety. I’ll get the job done, deliciously, but probably not in the most recommended and precise way. Im pretty much an OCD sufferer’s nightmare.
But back to the colouring: If you are using liquid food colouring, its safest to add this drop by drop. Because food colouring is pretty much like a tattoo, once its in there, its permanent. Unless you’re willing to whip up another batch – and aint nobody got time for that! So watch yourself, if you know you’re a bit of a heavy hand.
8. Cut wax wrap out to cover the base of your cake tin – I find that this ensures a smoother and flatter finish . (no cake stuck to the pan in the end) and round off with cook ‘n spray (ontop of wax wrap). If you don’t have cook and spray then use a piece of wax wrap to smear a little butter around the sides and base of cake tin, and finish with a dusting of flour. This all ensures an easier removal of cake from tin once it’s cooled from the oven.
9. Pour each colour batch into it’s own tin.
10. Place into the oven for 25 to 35 minutes (depending on your chosen thickness of your colour batch. As a guide, the whole cake, not split up I would put in for 35 to 40 min). Or until you stick a testing stick/knife into and it comes out clean. Just be sure not to open the oven door too often, lest you wish to have your cake flop.
11. Once all layers have been baked in oven wait till they’ve all cooled off, before you star working with them, else you risk breaking them. (They’re firmer and easier to work with once cooled down)
Spread a layer of apricot jam (or any other jam of your choice, but I find apricot works the best as the most neutral of flavours that don’t influence the actual cake’s flavour). Then stack the next layer on. Do so for each layer.
Tip: I warm the knife up in a cup of hot water before I work in the jam. This ensures easier spreading and that jam is less likely to stick to knife whilst you spread. Tip2: Once I start on the jam, I slice it up a bit and mix it around in the tin/container, to get a truly smooth and workable consistency that’s easier to spread, and wont pull at the cake and make it break or crumble as you spread.
Be sure to check that all the layers are aligned as you go on – check from all angles, as it does become tricky to rectify it afterwards, and would be quite visible if you’re going to use fondant icing to cover it.
Once that’s done, you’re set to decorate it anyway you choose to. I chose to cover it in fondant icing, with all the loopy bits to capture the adventurous world of Dora, as explained in this post here. (So I first covered it in “crumb iced” the cake with butter cream icing and let that harden a bit.)
Now as you put all the layers together, you may get worried about how its going to turn out. You may even question yourself like why did I even bother, I wonder if its not too late to order one , Or maybe “ag, she’s only 3, she wont judge you”.. “Im so tired right now, Im not sure that I can care anymore”…and other such thoughts.
So let me tell you now, it may not seem like much right now in the construction phase, but when you cut that first slice, THAT is when the rainbow effect is truly appreciated.
Trust me. I made a bit of a slap dash effort of it, as I was busy in the wee hours of the morning, on a very strained mental tank at the time, and it still turned out well enough for me to avoid the dreaded #epicfail stamp. So dont worry, you got this!
Now, for the Estrella’s.
Whats a Dora party without the Estrella’s? Ask both my daughters, and they’ll tell you, “Nothing!”…and then laugh at you. Or maybe just laugh at you. They’re always laughing at people, so I dunno. Maybe that’s a given. But I digress…the cookies, right!
I think these cuties turned out alright, and they were enjoyed by both small and big guests. They may be a bit thick, and you don’t have to make them that thick. But I normally recommend when making decorative shapes or cookie pops like I did in this instance, its best to keep it thick so as to not fall apart too easily, and for greater ease to work with.
I used an Almond Vanilla cookie for these babies, the same ones I used for Valentines Day. For the recipe, see that post here.
What you will need:
-Cookie dough (bought or the recipe above)
-Fondant icing (in all the colours you’d like for estrellas)
-A five point star cookie cutter
-Edible googly eyes ( I sourced from CAB)
-Edible icing pen (For the smile- in colours that wont disappear onto the fondant you’re using. Black is best. But I used red on most and blue on the red fondant ones.)
To be honest, these are pretty straight forward to make, and are actually exactly like the ones I made for valentines, except I added the sticks to it. So for tips and tricks on that go read that post here.
Once you’ve cut out your fondant stars, its best to decorate them now with the Estrella face before you place them onto the cookie, so as to cut down the risk of breaking your cookie. (Also why thicker cookies are better to work with when decorting.) To glue the googly eyes to the fondant I used an edible glue that I made. (To make edible glue see that post here.) Once your faces are done, you can now carefully cover the cookies with it. Usually fondant just needs a light dusting of water as glue to stick, considering the hardiness I wish to have from a cookie pop, I ensured that the fondant stuck to the cookies by once more using that same edible glue.
If you like, you could get all fancy schmancy add some sparkle to the cookies for a real stellar effect by dusting the fondant once its on, with some edible glitter. I had planned to, but ran outta time – story of my party planning life!!
And that’s it! Fluit fluit, my storie is uit! Pretty easy peasy, eh? I used these Estrella cookies not only as part of the take home gifts for the party guests, but it also served as part of the décor (as part of the party entrance) – see here in the main party post.
If you end up making cakes or cookies using these recipes, I’d love to see how it turned out! Tag me with #milkmemoirs on FB, twitter or Instagram if you do.
Happy baking and tasting! x