How To Make A Beautiful Iceland Inspired Cake
This week’s Iceland Inspired Cake is super special. Not only was it my Dad’s birthday but he agreed to share it with my sister who came home to visit from Canada. Because she’s so far away she never gets one of my birthday cakes and it’s been bugging me for a while. This seemed like the perfect time to combine two of my favourite people in one giant celebration.
I immediately knew the design inspiration would be Iceland. She lived there for a few years after college and I know she’d go back in a heartbeat if she could. I visited a few years ago myself and on her recommendation, took a trip to the village of Vik. I instantly fell in love. There’s a beach with black sand and these crazy dramatic grey waves and this beautiful little white church with a red roof on the hill overlooking the whole perfect scene. It’s seriously magical. If I could afford it, I’d be so tempted to pack a bag and move there immediately. Since that doesn’t look like it’s happening anytime soon, I picked Vik for this week’s cake, grey waves, black sand, topped with a gingerbread church. My edible homage to both mine and my sister’s favourite place on earth.
Honestly, I reckon I’d move anywhere in Iceland if I could make a living. It has magic in the air, in the light, in the atmosphere, it makes my spine tingle. And from above? Reykjavik looks like a giant patchwork quilt of a million colours. It’s pure joy in a city.
I had the design wrapped up pretty quickly so of course there had to be another challenge… my sister does not eat buttercream. Or cream cheese frosting, Or whipped cream. What the heck was I gonna put inside this cake? After a little brainstorm I realised I could fill the entire thing with homemade caramel and chocolate ganache. And let me tell you, it’s an absolute delight! I used dark chocolate, the slight bitterness balanced out the sweetness in the caramel and together, was bleeding marvellous! As usual, a challenge turned out to be a great lesson. You’d think I’d have learned by now.
Before I gush anymore about Iceland or caramel I should probably get on to how to make it eh?
2 cakes (you can find my recipe here)
½ batch gingerbread (recipe here)
170g dark chocolate
300ml double cream
1 can condensed milk
500g black fondant
100g white fondant
100g blue fondant
100g red fondant
2 egg whites (pasteurised)
500g icing sugar
Create a template from parchment paper for the gingerbread church.
Roll out the gingerbread dough roughly to the thickness of a £1 coin and place onto a lined baking tray. Put the parchment templates on top of the dough and cut around with a sharp knife, remove the excess. Repeat for all the building blocks of the church. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 10-12 minutes. When baked, remove from the oven and use the parchment templates to cut around the cookies again, they expand in the oven slightly, so this step cleans up the edges making it easier to assemble later. Leave to firm up on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Bake two sponge cakes in 6-inch, round pans at 180C for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. When cool, cut each into 2 layers, wrap in cling film and move to the freezer.
Fill a heat-proof bowl with condensed milk and cover with cling film. Place over a pan of boiling water and leave for 1-2 hours until it turns into caramel sauce. Fill a second bowl with the chocolate (broken into small pieces) and heat the cream in a pan until just before boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and mix until it’s fully melted. Leave this cool. When cool, gently whisk the chocolate ganache until it becomes the right consistency for spreading.
With an electric whisk, whisk 2 egg whites until fluffy but not stiff. Gradually add in the icing sugar, continuing to whisk until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag and use this icing to build the church. Construct in 2 separate parts (main building then steeple) and leave to dry for at least an hour before attaching the steeple on top. When completely dry, cover the walls with white icing, leaving the roof tops clear.
Roll out black fondant and cut 6 windows, attach to the sides of the church with a little icing. Using the black fondant, cut 2 circles, one slightly larger for the front windows. Attach these with a little icing. Roll out red fondant and cut small circles for roof tiles and 1 rectangle for the front door. Leave the tiles to dry slightly and then attach to the roofs with a little icing. Start from the top and work down. When fully covered, leave to dry completely. With the blunt edge of a knife, gently indent a vertical line down the centre of the front door. Attach a thin sausage of red fondant horizontally, with a little vodka. Finally, add a little black, fondant ball for a door handle.
Remove the cake from the freezer and layer it with a spreading of chocolate ganache and caramel between each layer. Apply a thin layer of ganache all over the cake, to pick up the crumbs and place in the fridge.
Roll out the remaining black fondant, large enough to cover the cake. Remove the cake from the fridge and coat with a thin layer of ganache. Smooth out the sides and cover in black fondant. Don’t worry too much if it doesn’t reach all the way down to the bottom, we’ll cover this in waves later. Smooth down the black fondant.
Mix equal parts white and black fondant to make a dark grey colour and roll into a long strip, about 30cm. Roll a strip of blue fondant the same length but 3 times as thick and lay them side by side. Roll the two strips together and then fold in half, rolling together again. Repeat this until the fondant is marbled through with blue and grey. Cut off small pieces at a time and shape into a wave, tapering at the end. Attach these to the cake with a little vodka.
When the church is dry, attach to the top of the cake with some white cookie icing and hold in place for a few seconds for it to firm up slightly.
And you’re done! I think you’ve earned a wee cup of tea and a pat on the back after that shift. Or, you could always book a lovely trip to Iceland, I won’t judge.