Linden Font

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Manly cake and the pâte à cigarette

Pate a cigarette

So we've been here before. Remember Facecake? Whatever pâte à cigarette loses in its gross-sounding name, it makes up for with its amazing decorative versatility. Forget an ashtray full of butts. It's a sweet trim in whichever colour you prefer.

What does pâte à cigarette translate to, I hear you ask? Well, pâte means paste. That chicken liver pate doesn't quite have the same ring to it when you have to call it paste, now, does it? The nearest translation I can get for this term is cigarette biscuit, which, to be honest, leaves me no closer to a sexier rationale for the name.

So the manly cake needs a manly trim. JacDav spilled a few juicy tidbits about her main man: he's an Engineer and he's into quality ingredients. Engineer means straight lines (sorry for my ignorance here Engineers of the world). The colours would deliver the simplicity I was after: black and white.

I've not done a stencil for a trim before, but I figured, how hard could it be? It's just straight lines, after all. Ummm, yeah. It took effin' ages. But it was fun to learn and the stencil's complete now - its totally reusable.

To make the stencil, you'll need a large sheet of transparency film. I measured out lines 1cm apart. I then cut every second strip. Words are really hard to describe the process here, so just check out the photos. Emma's brain empty of nouns and verbs.

Pate a cigarette
Pate a cigarette

You could easily make a stencil for other shapes: letters, hearts, squiggles, houses with square windows and smoke coming out the chimney: anything. I find simple is best and repetition is key: you will need to join strips of pâte à cigarette around the edge, so anything too fussy will be hard to connect. There's a method to the straight-lined madness. But check out google images to see some crazy creations other people have knocked up for their cakes.

You want some tips for a knock-out trim for your cake? If you have sharp lines in your design, spend 5 minutes making sure the lines are neat. Make sure the paste is rock solid before you add your second colour - it will move if there's any give in it at all. And think about your filling - you don't want a bright green trim if your filling is pink and blue. Google some complementary colours and work out what suits best. Unless, of course, gore is your thing. Then maybe think about fangs as a trim?

Spend a bit of time on your trim. It's the first thing people see, and the last thing they'll remember. The birthday boy loved it, so that's all that counts. But if you can wow the guests with a little bit of extra effort, it's worth it, even if only to indulge the show-off in us all.


200g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
200g egg white
200g plain flour
black food colouring

Mix butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg whites and mix slowly until the egg white is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure easy mixing.  Add the flour and mix to a smooth paste.

Divide the paste in two and add black food colouring to one bowl. Mix thoroughly and add more colouring to ensure a dark, even colour.

Take your stencil and spread a thin layer of white paste over the bottom. Flip over and press down on a paper lined baking sheet, making sure the lines are dead straight. Pop in the freezer for 5 minutes to freeze in place.

Spread the black paste over the stencil and, using a straight edge, spread thinly to ensure an even layer. Carefully remove the stencil. Pop back in the freezer for around 30 minutes to harden.

Pate a cigarette
Pate a cigarette

Remove from the freezer and neaten any ragged edges quickly. Spread with the white paste thinly and evenly over the black paste and pop back in the freezer for a further 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Mix the 5 eggs and sugar on high in an electric mixer until pale and doubled in volume. Add the sifted cornflour and flour and mix lightly until the flour is incorporated.

Spread the sponge mixture over the black and white paste and bake for 20 minutes, or until the sponge is just set.

Turn onto a baking rack to cool. Trim the edges of the pâte à cigarette. Measure the sides of your cake tin. Cut long strips of the pâte à cigarette approximately 3cm shorter than the height of the tin. Ensure you have enough to go around the sides of the tin.

Pate a cigarette
Image courtesy of Jacquie Davenport

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