Lemon. Passion fruit. Vanilla. Butter, sugar, flour, eggs. You know that it’s going to be a good time. This Rose Quartz cake is my way of dedicating today, Leap Day, to beauty. That sounds a little dramatic. But I think it’s important to dedicate this extra day to something like art, or music, or beautiful cakes, or Pantone’s colours of the year. I want to take this day and force people to enjoy themselves in a totally frivolous, non-serious, life-loving way – because a spare day doesn’t come along that often. It’s one day every four years, to put our calendars back in balance. Wouldn’t it be awesome if everyone could use this day to put their heads back in balance a little bit too?
I’ve just been reminding myself more and more lately of all the beautiful, simple, complex, wonder of the world. The moon for the past few days has been absolutely stunning, coming out really early and beaming brightly against the pastel-smudged sunset sky. I ate a grapefruit for the first time the other day; it was amazing. And isn’t that a small wonder in and of itself? How did I manage to get to 25 years old and never eat a grapefruit? I had nothing against them. I love food. I’ve eaten a witchety grub, but not a grapefruit. It just never came up! It was awesome to be able to taste something I’d never had before.
Cake decorating is kind of like my watercolour art. It’s what I do when I feel like busting out my creative impulses, taking a look at my ‘great design’ pinterest board and making something that just pleases me. These bright pink smudges, and crazy rose-quartz coloured white chocolate bark make me happy. The whole 80’s pastels thing is in vogue at the moment and I absolutely love it, in case you haven’t noticed. I love how with layer cakes, you get to be doubly creative, in both the decoration and the flavours.
This cake is a classic white cake, made with egg whites and milk, making for a dense-crumbed, yet light and buttery cake. The layers are scented with vanilla bean and then soaked with pure passionfruit juice. The buttercream is sharp with lemon and fragrant with more vanilla, and then striated with torn raspberries throughout the filling. The white chocolate bark is fun and tall and covered in sprinkles and glitter and salty pretzels. All in all, this is a frivolous, completely extraneous unnecessary cake. But if you can’t eat unnecessary cake on Leap Day, when can you?
- 225g (8oz) butter, soft
- 2 cups (400g) caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- zest of 1 lemon
- 5 egg whites
- 3 cups (450g) plain flour
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1½ cups (375ml) milk
- 200g (7oz) white chocolate
- food colouring of your choice (pastes, gels or powders work best)
- sprinkles, pretzels, edible glitter, etc
- 400g (14oz) butter, soft
- 800g (28oz) icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 punnet (125g) fresh raspberries
- 4 passion fruit, pulp strained through a sieve to get the juice
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease and line 4x18cm (7inch) cake tins (or use two and wash them between uses).
- Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest on a highe speed until very pale in colour. Continuing to beat, add the egg whites, a little at a time, until completely incorporated.
- Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt, and alternate adding this dry mixture and the milk, to the creamed butter and egg whites, beginning and ending with the flour.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the tins, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and springing back when touched. Remove from the tins and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the bark, line a baking sheet (which fits in your fridge) with baking paper. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl in 30 second bursts in the microwave, and then divide between three bowls. Dye one of the bowls quartz with blue food colour, and another pale rose pink.
- Pour all three bowls of chocolate, randomly, onto the baking sheet, and then smooth out into a large rectangle, swirling the colours together. Sprinkle over pretzels, sprinkles, edible glitter, or whatever you like. Place in the fridge to set.
- To make the butter cream, beat the butter until light and creamy. Add half the sugar and beat again until creamy and light. Finally, add the remaining sugar, vanilla and zest and beat until pale and thick. Finally, beat in the lemon juice, to achieve a thick, but spreadable consistency. If needed, add more lemon juice or some milk.
- Remove ¼ cup of the buttercream and dye pink with food colouring. Place one layer of cake onto a serving plate, and soak with ¼ of the passionfruit juice. Top with enough buttercream to make a 1cm/ ½ inch layer, and spread to the edges. Tear over ¼ of the raspberries and press them in. Repeat with the next two layers, and then finally top with a naked layer of cake. Spread a thin layer of frosting all over the cake, to lock in the crumbs, and place in the fridge to set for at least an hour.
- Finally, coat the entire cake with the remaining frosting, getting it as smooth as you can. Go over and dab tiny swipes of the pink frosting around the edges and top of the cake. Break the bark into large shards and stab them into the top of the cake. Add a few raspberries and serve.
This cake is AMAZING!! So flipping creative girl! And the flavour is wonderful too!
This is gorgeous, lady! Talk about a fun way to celebrate leap year!!
Thank you Kara! It’s an extra day! I felt like I had to do something. xx
This is stunning! I love the photos. Happy Leap DAy!
P.S. Where can I find a witchety grub??
This cake is everythanggggg!!! not only do the flavours make me swoon (passion fruit and raspberry?? my faves!!), this cake is just stunning! love the frosting swirls too xoxo
i love grapefruit as well..so glad you enjoyed it :)
this cake looks so pretty, i would probably not even cut it.
I love the brush strokes of pink!!! That’s so freaking beautiful. I want to eat all of it!!!
Thanks Erica! It was so fun to do. xx
I just passed away.
BAHAHAHA – I don’t know why but the way you phrased this made me laugh for like, 20 minutes. Loved it. xx
I am now going to refer to this as ‘The Unicorn Cake’ because Sarah this is the most beautiful cake ever! I think I’ve found our wedding cake inspiration right here :)
I’m serious – this will be coming to a nuptial near you in 2017!
This is so pretty! I love the way you’ve decorated this! What a great cake.
Thanks Angela! xx
This cake is beautiful! I love how original it is and I’m sure it tastes amazing!
Thanks Kristina! It was super fun to just unleash on a cake. xx
Thanks Kristina! It was super fun to just unleash on a cake. xx
What a fun cake! I love how its decorated!
wow wow. I am SO impressed. what a cool cake!! I needed something like this to celebrate leap day. guess i’ll have to wait another four years… not!
Your text and images are mesmerizing. They accompany a true work of art. All three together evoke an idea, spirit, and sense of play, so that those who can’t experience the heart of the matter, the cake itself, can still be close to the happiness. An ideal. Gratitude to Jessica too for celebrating your work yesterday.
Looking for a little advice. I bought a set of 5 6 inch by 2 inch Wilton cake pans but the edges are slightly sloped. Do you think I should keep them and deal with it, or buy new 6 or 7 inch pans with straight sides? I would just go ahead and buy new ones but I need at least 3 so that I’m not baking off layers one by one and they’re about $10 each, compared to the Wilton set that was only $15 total. I’m just baking cakes a couple times a year for fun and will be making one for my 30th birthday next month.
First of all – congrats on your 30th, that’s super exciting, I am stoked to see your cake. Secondly, if it were me, I would invest in the straight sided pans. There’s nothing wrong with the slopey pans – but you’re just not going to get the nice, evenly iced, perfect looking cakes. Of course, it depends on how much that matters to you. But $30 to buy pans for your 30th birthday cake has a kind of ring to it, doesn’t it? Anyway, of course, it’s up to you! At the end of the day, if it tastes good, who cares? xx
Also, just FYI, you should know that I have 2 cake pans, and I just re-use them. It’s a pain, but I’m a cheapo. xx
I so wanted to make a fun cake for leap deay, but couldn’t ever settle on an idea. You knocked it out of the park though! This cake is so magical. :)
Thanks Beth! xx
This is so cute and futuristic! Very creative :)
Thanks Andrea! xx
I made this cake for a 21st and it was PERFECT!! Everyone loved it and honestly I wished I’d made 2 because everyone wanted seconds. THANK YOU!