In 1995, Gary Chapman released The Five Love Languages. In the book he describes the five ways that we express and experience love: gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch.
Gary says that the list is exhaustive and that everyone falls into at least one of the love languages. But that isn’t quite true for me. My love language is cake baking. It’s probably the equivalent of gift giving – except that gifts usually don’t take two hours to bake, have caramel filling and cream cheese icing. And it’s maybe a little bit acts of service, but at the end of the day you get a cake (it’s not like I’m helping you file your taxes or move house).
And the wonderful thing about baking a cake is that it’s so seldom done anymore. People think it’s hard work and messy. So they just resort to picking up a cake from the shops or ordering one from a bakery. But by baking your own, you’re going to save money and get more cake for your buck.
This cake cost just under R100 to bake – all in! You would battle to find a cake as delicious and pretty as this one for less.
This is my go-to party cake recipe (I have adapted it from this recipe). You might think “Who has time to make a multi-coloured, four layer, bunting topped monster of cake!?” You do, my friend. Trust me – it really is so much easier to make than you think.
I made it in pink for my sister’s birthday picnic and blue for a colleague’s baby shower. I have used pictures of the blue cake in the recipe below to show you how to colour your batter.
Caramel ombré party cake (Serves up to 16 people)
- 560 grams cake flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 340 grams butter (softened)
- 450 grams white sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 6 egg whites
- 330ml milk
- Food colouring
- 1 can caramel treat or 360 grams dulce de leche
- Ingredients for your favourite icing recipe
- Preheat your oven to 180°C. Cut circles of baking paper to fit the bottom of two 9 inch round pans. Grease the pans with butter.
- Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.
- Using an electric mixer, beat together the softened butter and the sugar. It should become a light, fluffy paste and most of the sugar should dissolve. Mix in the vanilla extract.
- Beat in two egg whites at a time, until well combined.
- Alternate mixing in a third of the sifted flour mixture with a third of the milk. Scrape down the bowl to make sure that everything is mixed together well.
- Divide the batter equally into four bowls.
- This is the fun bit! Take your first bowl of batter (this will be your bottom layer) and start adding the food colouring. Keep adding food colouring until you are happy with the colour. Do the same with the next three bowls of batter, reducing the amount you add as you go. To check if you’re happy with the colours, smear a little bit of batter from each bowl on a plate or tissue.
- Fill the buttered and lined pans with the batter and bake for 13-17 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Keep an eye on them, as they will bake quickly. You might need to rotate the pans half way through the baking time if your oven doesn’t cook evenly – like mine!
- Take the cakes out of the oven and let them cool slightly before removing them from the pans and peeling off the baking paper.
- Wash and dry the pans. Cut new baking paper and butter the pans before baking the rest of the batter.
- Leave the layers to cool completely.
Now you can assemble and decorate your ombré cake!
I like filling the cake with caramel treat. Place the first (and darkest) layer of cake on a serving dish. Gently spread a layer of caramel on the top. Continue until all the layers are in place – making sure not to put caramel treat on top of the last layer.
Make your favourite icing – such as butter cream icing, cream cheese icing or sour cream icing. Ice your cake and store it somewhere safe (away from the cat!) until it’s time to celebrate. I like to make a paper bunting topper to decorate it but you can always use candles.
We celebrated my sister’s birthday at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in Roodeport. You have to take a little drive to get there but it is so beautiful. It costs R35 to get in (R25 if you’re a student still slogging away at your degree).