Friday, 29 April 2011

Love Thy Neighbour - how terribly British. Celebratory Union Jack Cake

I'm not a Royalist  (Kate, it should have been me), I'm a Neighbour-ist.  I always cringe at the phrase 'I'm lucky enough' but I'm going to have to use it.  I'm lucky enough to live between neighbours who I now count amongst my closest friends; we share wine, barbecues, bin duty, heck, even holidays.  They say you can't choose your family; you cant really choose your neighbours either, but if I could have, I'd have chosen mine

So when I was asked if I wanted to attend a street party for Kate and Wills (It should have been me) Wedding, I jumped at the chance; not so much to celebrate the Royal Wedding (It should have been me), but to spend time with my friends, to celebrate being British, to eat cucumber sarnies, drink Pimms and to make a bloody good cake.  And, most importantly, it's my Godson's (and neighbour's!) 2nd birthday - a right party to be had here in Cheshire.

Yesterday morning, I landed from holiday in Cuba at 6am and, after a visit to the shops, I got down to cooking.  I was floating about in the pool in 33 degree sunshine last week, trying to think of a delight for the party that would not include butter cream swirls (fiddly and so terribly American - nothing against Americans, but this is celebrating the English!), was not a cupcake (see previous) and was down right British.  Enter a cake decorated like the Union Jack flag, with lots of cream and fresh fruit.  OK, here I lie.  I used butter cream.  Whilst freshly whipped cream would have been quintessentially British, the kiddies prefer it this way - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.  

Husband enjoying cake
With the Union Jack Flag hanging out of my bedroom window and adorning my lovely vanilla cake, I made my way into the street to celebrate my friends.  Yes, to celebrate Wills and Kate's (It should have been me) nuptials - who doesn't love a good wedding? - but mainly to celebrate the eccentricity of being British, the green and pleasant land of the UK (for a change - a Pound for the person to tell me when St Georges Day is without using Google) and to spend time with my friends.  Who knows, I might make some new ones who can share in bin duty!

And of course, a Big Happy Birthday to a very, very special, gorgeous, smiley two year old boy (who's had a haircut for the occasion, no less!)

I hope you all had a fabulous day, whatever you chose to do, whatever you chose to celebrate.

P.S. It should have been me.

Union Jack Cake

For the cake

  • 280g unsalted butter
  • 280g caster sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 280g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the sugar syrup

  • 5 tbsp water
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the butter cream

  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 250g icing sugar

To decorate 

  • Raspberries and blueberries (about 400-500g each)

1. Preheat the oven to 180 and line the base of a 18" x 12" baking tray with straight sides, about 1" tall.

2. In a mixer, beat the butter and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

3. With the mixer going on a slow setting. add the eggs one at a time, slipping in a tablespoon of flour about half way through to stop the mixture from curdling.

4. Sift in the flour and mix until just combined and then stir in the vanilla.

5. Tip into the tray and spread to cover the base, and bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden and the sponge springy to the touch.

6.  Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup.  Place the water and sugar in a pan and bring to the boil over a low-medium heat.  Remove from the heat an leave to cool before adding the vanilla.

7. While the cake is still warm, prod all over with a skewer and spoon the syrup over the cake.

8. Leave to cool.  Once cool, you can remove from the tin, but it is tricky.  You can't see the tin so I leave it - it's also easier to transport this way.

9.  Make the butter cream by sifting the flour into an electric mixer and mixing with the butter for at least 5 minutes.  Once it is light and fluffy, mix in the vanilla.

10. Spread the butter cream over the cake.  You do not want to see any cake, as this will form the base of your flag.

11.  With a blunt knife, gently draw four lines on your butter cream - right to left, top to bottom and corner to corner on both sides.  on either side of the lines for the vertical and horizontal cross, place a raspberry so you have two lines of fruit going down, two from side to side.

12.  Place one row of raspberries on the lines making the corner to corner crosses. 
(if you want to true Union Jack representation, place the raspberries below the line on the right hand side and above the line on the left hand side).

13. Finally, will between the red lines with blueberries.  This will create the blue background and the butter cream will create the while outline on the red crosses.
(Again, if you want a true representation, be sure the keep more white space below the red diagonal lines on the right hand side and above them on the left.  If you are unsure, have a look at a Union Jack flag here to see what I mean).

I know it's not a competition, but....



  1. wow! your cake looks awesome. great work! :)

  2. Thanks cakewhiz, was great fun making it :-)

  3. brilliant cakes - I now wish I had made one - I just went the chocolate biscuit cake - if only you had made one of those to impress Wills it might have been you - they are his favourites - ha ha ha

  4. Hmmmm - chocolate biscuit cake or beautiful Kate - I'd have gone for the cake every time ;-)