This week’s Llama cake is from the ultra-cute new book by Angela Romeo and Annie Rigg – Magical Animal Cakes.
With 45 different cakes and bakes, it has something for every little animal lover’s birthday including all the time-old favorites as well as trendy new requests like sloths, narwhals and unicorns.
This Llama cake tutorial has been dubbed the “No Drama Llama”. Wearing star-shaped shades and blue on the inside, he’s cool both inside and out!
Llama Cake Tutorial: Vanilla Cake Recipe (Serves 40)
You will need:
- 2-litre/2-quart/8-cup round Pyrex bowl, greased with sunflower oil and base-lined with a 10-cm/4-inch disc of baking parchment
- 3 x 18-cm/7-inch cake pans, greased and lined with baking parchment
This is the most basic vanilla cake mixture, which can be adapted to introduce different ﬂavors, such as chocolate. It is used in many of the recipes in this book as it makes a good base for cakes that need to be cut up and re-assembled, and it tends to be liked by most of the family, young and old.
For best results use an electric freestanding mixer, but a hand-held electric whisk will do just ﬁne. Before you start baking make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature, the oven is preheated with the oven shelf in the correct position and the relevant cake pans have been prepared. The oven temperatures given throughout the book are for a conventional oven; if you are using a fan oven, adjust the temperature according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Llama Cake Tutorial: Ingredients
- 475 g (3 sticks plus 9 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 475 g (2 1/2 cups) caster/superfine sugar
- 8 large eggs, beaten
- 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 475 g (3 2/3 cups) plain/all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 6–7 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.
Cream the butter and sugar in an electric freestanding mixer or with a hand-held electric whisk until pale, light and ﬂuffy, about 2–3 minutes. Very gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula from time to time. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Sift together the ﬂour and baking powder and add to the cake mixture in two batches, mixing until smooth. Add the milk and mix until smooth. At this stage you can tint the cake mixture if you wish with blue gel or paste food coloring.
Pour 450 g/1 lb of the cake mixture into the Pyrex bowl and cook in a microwave on high at 800W for 5–6 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Carefully remove from the microwave and turn out onto a wire rack to cool. If necessary, trim the base of the dome to make it level. Divide the remaining mix between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 30–35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.
Llama Cake Tutorial: Vanilla Buttercream
Buttercream is a dream to pipe and the easiest coating for cakes of any shape. You will need:
- 700 g/6 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1.4kg/10 cups icing/confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- pure vanilla extract (optional)
Cream the butter in an electric freestanding mixer or in a large bowl with a hand-held electric whisk until really soft. Gradually beat in the icing/confectioners’ sugar until pale and smooth. Add a few drops of vanilla extract, if using.
Llama Cake Tutorial: Decoration
You will need:
- icing/confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- 60 g/2 oz. white flower modeling paste
- 35 g/1 1/4 oz. pink flower modeling paste
- 100 g/31/2 oz. white fondant icing
- 30 g/1 oz. light blue flower modeling paste
- 30 g/1 oz. dark blue flower modeling paste
- black writing icing pen
- 8 x 5-cm/3 1/4 x 2-inch leaf pastry/cookie cutter
- 6 x 3.5-cm/2 1/2 x 1 1/2-inch leaf pastry/cookie cutter
- 14-cm/5 1/2-inch round pastry/cookie cutter
- 6-cm/2 1/2-inch star pastry/cookie cutter
- 4.5-cm/1 3/4-inch star
- pastry/cookie cutter
- large pastry/piping bag, fitted with a large star nozzle/tip, or make your own
Start by trimming the tops of the cakes if necessary to make them level. Sandwich together the cakes – domed cake on top – using 450 g/1 lb of the buttercream. Place on a serving plate and crumb-coat using 450 g/1 lb of the buttercream. (See our Note on Crumb-Coating below for instructions on how to do this.) Chill for 15 minutes.
First, the ears. Dust a surface and roll out the white and the pink modelling paste to 2 mm/1/16 inch thick. Use the larger leaf cutter to cut out two pieces of white icing. Use the smaller leaf cutter to cut out two pieces of pink icing (reserve the white and pink trimmings). Brush one side of each pink leaf-shape with water and stick one to each of the white leaf-shapes. Pinch at the base of each to create the ear shape. Leave to set for at least 2 hours.
For the face, dust a surface and roll out the white fondant icing to 3 mm/1/8 inch thick. Use the round cutter to make a circle. Brush one side with a little water and stick horizontally to the cake just below the dome shape. Use the reserved pink ﬂower modeling paste to mould a small nose. Brush one side with a little water and stick into position.
For the sunglasses, dust a surface and roll out the light blue modelling paste to 2 mm/1/16 inch thick. Cut out two star shapes using the larger star cutter (reserve the trimmings). Repeat with the dark blue modeling paste using the smaller star cutter. Brush one side of the smaller stars with water and stick to the larger stars. Brush the backs with water and stick to the white icing face. Roll a pea-sized piece of the light blue modeling paste into a sausage shape. Brush one side with a little water and position as the glasses’ bridge. Roll out the reserved white modeling paste to 2 mm/1/16 inch thick. Cut out two small triangles, brush one side of each with a little water and stick to sunglasses to create a ‘shiny highlight’.
Fill the pastry/piping bag with the remaining buttercream and pipe stars around the white face, covering up the seam. Continue to coat the whole head, draw the buttercream slightly outwards and upwards to create a ﬂ oppy fringe just above the face. Finally, put the ears into position and use the black writing icing pen to draw on the mouth.
A Note on Crumb Coating
A spoonful of icing spread onto the middle of your cake board will stop your cake from moving around. When crumb-coating it’s best to apply the buttercream little and often, this will help to give an even distribution and prevent dragging crumbs around the cake. Use the tip of a dinner knife to apply icing to the sides and top of your stacked cake, slightly spreading a little more buttercream into any gaps or recesses, if necessary.
Smooth the top with a palette knife/metal spatula. At this stage, the sides do not need to be completely smooth. When the cake is covered, take the palette knife/metal spatula or a cake scraper and hold vertically at a 45° angle against the cake. Sweep around the cake with a little pressure to remove the excess icing. Scrape this icing into a separate bowl (as it may have crumbs in) and continue to remove the excess buttercream. If there are any gaps or holes, ﬁll with a little buttercream and smooth again with the palette knife/metal spatula or cake scraper.
After ﬁnishing the sides, you will have little peaks at the top edge of your cake. Use the palette knife/metal spatula, held horizontally, to draw these peaks into the center of the cake, using gentle but sturdy sweeping motions. Chill the cake for 15 minutes.
Extracted from Magical Animal Cakes: 45 Bakes for Unicorns, Sloths, Llamas and Other Cute Critters by Angela Romeo & Annie Rigg. Photography by Clare Winfield. © Ryland Peters & Small, 2020.