Joy, The Cherry Blossom Checkerboard Cake & A Nine Year Blogsoversary!

recipe

Cherry Blossom Checkerboard Cake

Spring has sprung and gorgeous pink cherry blossoms are blooming! This tall round cake is all pretty pink on the outside but holds a surprise inside. Inside is a checkerboard pattern in cherry and vanilla! Her name would of course be Joy!

Every year I wait for spring to arrive like a cat waiting to pounce on a ball of wool. August is like the final hurdle, the Friday morning before the weekend. And I knew that spring was really on its way when we took a drive and Mr NQN pointed out the cherry blossoms that had bloomed. "Stop the car!!" I said in a dramatic fashion and I went off to pick some of the cherry blossoms from the tree. Their aroma was intoxicating and sweet and I knew the next step would be to adorn a cake with the flowers. I have a double reason for loving Spring because September is also the month that I celebrate a blog anniversary. It has been 9 years of writing Not Quite Nigella! Naturally I wanted to celebrate with cake.

Cherry Blossom Checkerboard Cake

I've wanted to make a checkerboard cake for a while now. While you can buy some cutters to do it, you don't really need them. I wanted my checkerboard cake to be a tall tower or pale pink on the outside hiding a centre of pink and white. The idea seems intimidating but I promise that it is straightforward to make. You do need a good solid cake to do this with and one that ideally doesn't shed too many crumbs.

Enter this butter cake. It's one of the easiest cakes to remember if you're ever in a pinch. It's basically 225g or 8 ounces of butter, sugar and self raising flour with 4 eggs and that's it. It's rich, it's firm and it doesn't crumble much at all which makes it pretty damn perfect for this checkerboard cake.

Cherry Blossom Checkerboard Cake

A part of me still can't believe that it has been 9 years since I started this blog. Nine years feels like a really long time and yet it has gone quickly. I am under no delusions, I realise how fortunate I am to be doing something that I love and it's because of you Dear Reader.

Cherry Blossom Checkerboard Cake

Lauren's cookies

Last week was World Gratitude Day (on the 21st September) and I was delighted to meet a Dear Reader Lauren at a Foxtel Lifestyle relaunch to celebrate their last 20 years and rebranding. She gave me a box of the most gorgeous cookies - there was a cake slice and some ice cream cones with brains because she knows I love Halloween (check out her blog here!).

Cherry Blossom Checkerboard Cake

And that night I met more readers and it really hit home the message about gratitude. Appreciate everything because, and as you know these past two weeks have been rough, but things can change quickly. Choose joy and gratitude because that's one thing we can control in life! :)

So tell me Dear Reader, have you seen the cherry blossoms? What are you grateful for? Do you consciously choose joy or practice gratitude or thankfulness?

Watch how to make a checkerboard cake!

Cherry Blossom Checkerboard Cake

An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Makes a tall 10cm/4 inch diameter cake

Preparation time:

Cooking time:

  • 225g/8ozs. butter, softened
  • 225g/8ozs. caster or superfine sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 225g/8ozs. self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Rose pink food colouring
  • Cherry flavouring (Lorann oils)

For buttercream

  • 225g/8ozs. butter, softened
  • 110g/3.5ozs caster or superfine sugar
  • 65ml/2.29ozs. room temperature water
  • Rose pink food colouring
  • Cherry flavouring (Lorann oils)

Step 1 - Grease and line 2 x 10cm/4inch round tins making sure that the parchment on the side goes up an inch above the rim. Preheat oven to 150C/300F.

Step 2 - Cream the butter and sugar on medium high speed for 3 minutes until pale. Add eggs one a time, beating well between additions. Gently fold in the flour.

Step 3 - Take two bowls and divide the batter between them (I weigh them to get them more precise, it helps if you use identical bowls so you can tare your scale). Mix vanilla in one and pink colour and cherry flavour in another. Do not overmix. Spoon the vanilla into one tin and the cherry into another. Bake for 1 hour. This batter is thick so if you insert a skewer it will not give you an indication that it is set or not (I learned this the hard way) so the best way to check if it is done is to press down in the centre to check that it is firm. It may need an extra 10 minutes.

Cherry Blossom Checkerboard Cake

Step 4 - Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a rack. Wrap and place in the fridge (this will help reduce the amount of crumbs). You can decorate them the next day (it's better to do this).

Step 5 - Make the buttercream by beating the butter for 3 minutes on a low setting (3 out of 8). Add the sugar and water in two lots and beat for about 7-10 minutes until it is smooth and you can't feel the sugar crystals between fingers. Add in the colour and flavour-be sparing with the pink unless of course you want a hot pink colour.

Cherry Blossom Checkerboard Cake

Step 6 - Slice off the tops of the cold cakes. Then slice each cake into three horizontally (the cakes should be quite high and high enough to slice into three). Take two round cookie cutters, one 6cm and 3cm and cut out holes in the centre of the cake. You should have 18 pieces (6 cakes cut into 3 discs).

Cherry Blossom Checkerboard Cake

Step 7 - Take a little buttercream and one of the large pink circles and spread inside and then insert the vanilla colour and then a pink centre using the buttercream to sandwich them together. Repeat alternating each layer. At the end you should have six cakes with alternating ring colours. Three have vanilla as the largest ring and three have pink cherry as the largest ring.

Cherry Blossom Checkerboard Cake

Step 8 - Spread some buttercream on a cake base or the serving plate. Place one of the cakes and spread on top with some buttercream. Place another cake on top making sure that the outside colour is different from the layer below. Take some buttercream and make a thin crumb coat of frosting on the outside. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cherry Blossom Checkerboard Cake

Step 9 - Add a final buttercream coat. Then decorate with fresh cherry blossoms.