Great Book Larder Bake Off: Layer Cake

Like every other food blogger and foodie friend I know, I watched The Great British Bake Off,  (or Baking Show, as it’s known in the US) this winter. I’m not a big reality cooking competition enthusiast, and the optimism and teamwork of the show were exactly what I needed. A friend told me about Book Larder‘s new event “The Great Book Larder Bake Off,” a dessert competition at Seattle’s only cookbook store. While I missed the inaugural event (cookies) this winter, I decided to try my luck at the spring contest for layer cakes.

Great Book Larder Bake Off Watercolor Layer Cake | I'll Make It Myself! 4
Description detailed in post. Image of a three-layer cake frosted in watercolor-inspired turquoise ombre, on a glass plate, with edible violas (flowers) on top and in background.

Unlike the GBBO, we didn’t have to bake onsite, just to bring our cakes and then cut out about 1/3 of them for the tasters, who purchased tickets to the event.

I made Maida Heatter‘s “White Pepper and Ginger Lemon Cake” again, making two batches so I could have three layers (and a spare). Instead of the Super Mario design my friend had requested for his birthday, I decided to go for something elegant and subtle: a turquoise watercolor-style citrus buttercream frosting (from SprinkleBakes) and edible violas from our balcony herb garden.

Great Book Larder Bake Off Watercolor Layer Cake | I'll Make It Myself! 3

The frosting technique is very simple: you do a crumb layer in your lightest color (white, for this cake), then divide and dye the rest of the icing into the colors you want to blend.
For this cake, I mixed blue and green gel food dye for the turquoise bottom section and plain green for the middle section. The top is plain white. Then all you have to do is spread semi-even layers of each around the cake and blend with an offset spatula as you go. This is great if you don’t have a lot of piping equipment (or skill, in my case). I added some edible violas on the top and the sides. If you’re a visual learner, check out this tutorial from Sweet Styles CA.

Great Book Larder Bake Off Watercolor Layer Cake | I'll Make It Myself! 1

If I could redo this cake, I would have cut each layer in two to get more frosting in there and alternate the frosting with lemon curd or marmalade. There’s always room for improvement.

Great Book Larder Bake Off Watercolor Layer Cake | I'll Make It Myself! 2

The event itself was very crowded, so I, being shy and also maybe a ghost, kind of hid in the corner by my cake most of the time to avoid getting stepped on or elbowed. All the bakers and staff were very nice and so talented. The top three cakes were a passionfruit white chocolate cake, a coconut lemon cake, and a checkerboard strawberry chocolate cake; Book Larder posted about them here.

And here’s one of my photos:


There were 17 cakes total, and in this photo, I have 6 of them: from top left to bottom right:

1. Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake (prior to cutting) with a fondant campfire and dried pepper on a “spit”
2. White Chocolate Passionfruit Cake (prior to cutting): the bottom tier is turquoise and frosted like scales; the top layer is white with orange flowers.
3. Frango Delicioso (chocolate with mango and raspberries)
4. Chocolate-covered strawberry cake (the cake is cut open to reveal alternating strawberry and chocolate pieces, like a checkerboard)
5. Lavender-chocolate cake with ombre lavender frosting
6. Chocolate espresso mocha cake, with coffee bean decorations

Looking forward to the summer edition!


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