Today, I bare my soul. I show you my baby, my sweetheart, my precious.
It's my facecake.
What is a facecake, I hear you ask? It's many things, but a serious cake it is not. Don't get me wrong, a facecake can be delicious. But it's not the kind of cake you'd serve up at a wedding. That said, I did bake this one for a manager, Jane, at work, but she does have an exceptionally good sense of humour.
A facecake is silly and at times slightly creepy - you try offering the birthday boy a slice of his own eye and tell me it's not just a little bit weird. But it can be hilarious and if the person you've chosen to bake for has a slightly playful sense of humour, you won't go wrong.
Be warned: you will be asked many, many questions about how you made this creation. And it does take a while to explain. They'll ask about the trim (pate à cigarette) and they'll ask about the filling (a rich buttercream). But most of all, they'll ask about the photo. It's not a bad thing: it's actually wonderful to see people so interested in the food they're eating, even if it is a bit of a novelty. This does take while to come together, but it's not too complex to create. It's equal parts refined technique and Tackyfest3000 design.
This is a two part post. The recipe is pretty extensive and given I'm an inherently lazy person, I like to space these things out. Aside from that, I would normally whip up this baby over a couple of nights. The pate à cigarette freezes well, so you could do this a month in advance if you're
So go on, have a bash. Bake this for your nearest and dearest. Use a crazy photo on top: extreme close-up works wonders for upping the creep-factor.
Pate à cigarette
200g icing sugar
200g egg white
200g plain flour
pink and yellow food colouring
170g caster sugar
To make the pate à cigarette, beat the butter and sugar in a mixer until pale and creamy. Add the egg white and mix to combine. Keep scraping down the sides of the bowl regularly. Add the flour and mix until smooth.
Remove one third of the mixture from the bowl. Add the pink food colouring to the smaller bowl and the yellow to the larger. Mix each to incorporate the colour evenly. Fill a piping bag with the pink mix.
Pipe the mix in dots onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper (or a silicone baking sheet). Try to keep the dots fairly small and not too tall. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until firm. Spread the yellow mix over the pink dots in a thin layer. Freeze until the sponge is prepared.
To make the sponge, preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius. Beat the eggs and sugar in a mixer on high until pale and fluffy (around 10 minutes). Sift together the flours and gently fold into the eggs until no trace of flour remains. You will use around 1/3 of this mix to make the pate à cigarette and the rest will be used to make the layers for the cake.
Remove the pate à cigarette from the freezer and spread over a thin layer of the sponge mix. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden.
For the remaining sponge. Grease and line a 22cm x 27cm tin. Fill with the sponge mix and bake for 30 minutes or until it comes away from the sides. Remove from the tin and place on a rack to cool.
Next stop: Buttercream filling!