Alphabet/ number ‘cakes’ have been a recent Instagram craze throughout 2018. They look beautiful and are the perfect celebration showstopper. However, they are not ‘cakes’ but more a reconstructed fruit tart- I made mine using 2 almond & vanilla pastry tart bases, sandwiched with a mascarpone vanilla cream filling and topped with fresh fruit, macarons and other goodies. I have done the letter A today for my friend’s birthday, but you can do any number/ letter/ initials. You could even make shapes such as a heart for valentine’s day or a ring shape for an engagement gift- the principal is still the same. I have decorated this cake with pretty pink treats but you can use whatever you want- to personalise the cake even further. I have overdone the quantity of pastry and cream, as you may be making 2 letters, or 2 numbers- today I used the spare mixture to make some small individual tarts.
For the pastry:
- 300g plain flour
- 75g ground almonds
- 75g icing sugar
- 200g cold butter, cut into cubes (I left mine out the fridge a few hours before baking, so it is soft to cut but still firm)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cream filling:
- 500g mascarpone
- 500ml double cream
- 200g icing sugar
- 3 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Macaroons- I used the M&S range
- Fresh flowers
- Fresh fruit (I used strawberries- some cut into cubes & some halved (with stalks still on for colour contrast), blackberries and cherries)
- Toffee popcorn
- Mini marshmallows (Tesco)
- Coconut flavoured mini meringues (M&S)
- Pick ‘n’ Mix (white chocolate jazzies)
- Mini fudge chunks (Waitrose)
- Small coloured sugar balls
- Edible silver glitter
- Use a food processor and put in the plain flour, ground almonds, icing sugar, butter and pinch of salt.
- Blend until crumbs are formed.
- Then whisk the egg and vanilla in a separate bowl.
- Pour this into the food processor and blend until a dough is formed.
- Empty the dough onto some cling film, wrap up and refrigerate for an hour until chilled.
- Meanwhile, make the letter template for the base. I just typed in the letter ‘A’ into google, then zoomed in onto the picture until I got the size I wanted. I then traced around the letter with a piece of paper on the screen. Mine was larger than an A4 piece of paper, so I used 2 pieces of paper and stuck them together. I then cut out the shape on the paper.
- Preheat oven to 180C/375F.
- Once out of the fridge, split the dough into 2.
- Get 2 baking trays and line with baking parchment. Roll out the dough until slightly larger than your letter/ number.
- Put into the fridge for 30 minutes to set.
- Then get your letter/ number and cut around the edges with a sharp knife to form 2 letters/ numbers.
- I had a few bits of pastry left over so lined some tart cases to make extra.
- Put into the oven for 10-13 minutes or until golden around the edges. Leave to cool. Important: the pastry is very soft once just out of the oven, so do not attempt to move the letter/ number or it can break. Keep it on the tray until cooled, when it will harden up.
- To make the cream, beat the mascarpone and icing sugar, until smooth.
- Add the vanilla extract and double cream and beat until stiff peaks and firm. I put this in the fridge for about 15 minutes to firm up.
- Transfer this to a piping bag. To do this, I use a ziplock bag. I used a circular piping nozzle and put it into a corner of a ziplock bag, then snipped off the end. If you do not have a piping nozzle, just snip off the end of the ziplock bag. To fill the bag, put it into a tall glass, fold the bag edges around the glass, then fill. Then invert the edges back over.
- When decorating the cake, I decorate it within the cake box I am giving the cake in, as it can be quite difficult to transfer the cake later. I got my cake boxes from amazon- link here.
- Once the cake has completely cooled, pipe drops of cream around the first base. Pipe in 2 lines, to fill the space.
- Then carefully place the other letter/ number on top, to align.
- Pipe more cream on the surface of this, in the same pattern as before.
- Decorate the cake.
- If serving later, keep in the fridge as this contains dairy products.