Looking for a cute cake? This alpaca cake is all sorts of sweet and cute! Outside is a golden buttercream but inside is a gorgeously moist orange cake in all shades of the rainbow!
I made this cake for my hairdresser friend Elly. I've mentioned how she and I swap skills. She does my hair and I do her children's birthday cakes. Her youngest Axel was just turning one and she asked me if I had time to make a cake. I was busy but had wanted to make an alpaca cake for the longest time so I made time to do this cake which was actually all done in one afternoon.
The rainbow inside the cake isn't strictly necessary but it is tied to some fond memories of seeing alpacas in Peru. Sure I was in the midst of battling altitude sickness but when I came out of my hotel in Cusco I saw a woman with an alpaca dressed in traditional Andean clothing. They often dress the alpacas in coloured wools to take photos with tourists to earn money. So my alpaca cake (who I've called Axel) has some colourful woollens around it's neck and ears.
The cake itself is vegan although this is more for ease of mixing in colours into the cake as well as the fact that my vegan cake base recipe is really moist so it's good for when you need to bake things a couple of days ahead of time. I promise you won't need to brush this with syrup or jam to keep it moist.
Elly loves buttercream cakes so the outside was done in buttercream rather than fondant. The poor girl apologised several times for the sweltering hot weather - every time she needs a cake its inevitably around 38C because her children's birthdays are during summer. But I think I've got this buttercream cake in summer thing down now that we have air conditioning.
I was thinking about the people that I'm friends with and how we interact nowadays. Say what you want about social media but I love being able to see what everyone is doing and give them a like or a quick message because the last thing I would ever do is call somebody. I mean if my phone rings I'm assuming someone is in hospital or dead.
There are some people that you are closer to that share your sense of humour. And I feel like there are certain categories of people in your circle.
Level 1: People who you will say "Let's have lunch" but you never do. These are acquaintances and distant ones at that.
Level 2: People that you tag in memes. These people share your sense of humour.
Level 3: People you tag on your actual social feed. You like having these people as friends.
Level 4: People who you DM/text constantly. These are the people who get you.
Level 5: People you see in real life. These are your favourite people.
Level 6: People who telephone you. NOBODY except your parents and real estate agents.
For me Level 5 is the smallest category apart from level 1 because seeing someone in real life requires commitment and a genuine connection. But levels 2 to 4 are also very rewarding too. I love it when people tag me because we share a sense of humour because it means they are thinking about me. And maybe they share my love of cake.
So tell me Dear Reader, how do you feel about being tagged? Do you telephone people? And which group is the biggest group for you?
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 30 minutes
- 3 cups cake flour
- 2 cups caster or superfine sugar
- 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 1.5 teaspoons fine salt
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 3/4 cup rice bran oil (or other flavourless oil, not EVOO)
- 4.5 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons orange flavouring
- Food colouring in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet and pink
- 380g butter, softened
- 8 cups golden icing sugar, well sifted (you can also use regular and tint it slightly golden in colour or leave white)
- 2-3 tablespoons milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
You will also need a small ball of white gum paste, edible pink powder, brush, #233 piping tip, piping bag, a white chocolate ball, edible food colourings in black as well as orange, green, red, yellow and blue and edible dried flowers.
The alpaca ears made out of gum paste
Step 1 - First shape the ears by cutting out two triangles of rolled out white gum paste. Make them curl slightly inwards and rest them against chopsticks to keep the curve and dry completely. Brush the centre with edible pink powder.
Step 2 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line 7 x 18cm/7.2inch shallow cake tins. Place the flour, sugar, bicarb and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. In a jug measure the water, vinegar and flavouring and add to the dry mix with a spatula mixing until just combined. Weigh the mixture (subtracting the weight of the bowl) and divide into 7 equal portions in 7 bowls. Tint each bowl a different colour. Bake for 20 minutes or until the centre springs back when touched. Cool completely.
Step 3 - Beat the butter until smooth and white in colour and then add the icing sugar, milk and vanilla and mix on low speed at first. Then beat until fluffy.
Step 4 - Spread some buttercream on a cake base and place a cake layer on the bottom. I started with the darkest colour. Spread with buttercream and repeat until you use all the layers. Spread a thin layer of buttercream around the cake filling in all the gaps. Refrigerate until firm. Then add a thicker layer around the cake and scrape until smooth with a large scraper.
Step 5 - Spoon some buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a #233 piping tip. Pipe the "hair" all around the cake leaving some space for the face. You may need help tilting the cake so that you can get the hair down the sides. I had Mr NQN hold it for me while I piped and then he tried piping as my hands got sore doing it (I think he enjoyed it).
Step 6 - Cut out some grooves in the top of the cake to insert the ears and gently place them in. Place the nose on the face and tint some buttercream with black gel. Draw eyes and the detail on the nose. You can also tint some buttercream to make the colourful decoration around the cake. Use a little buttercream to affix the flowers. Refrigerate if it is hot or keep at room temperature if it is cold where you are.