More than 2,000 beautiful bakes were entered into our recent #CathBakes competition…but there could only be one winner, and we fell in love with Ellie from Oxford’s autumnal showstopper, inspired by her love of the season and our very own seasonal leafy prints.
Ellie and her sister Hollie teamed up to create our winning Star Bake, and were kind enough to share the recipe with us – just the thing to stave off the post-Bake Off blues! Why not have a go at making your own Autumn Cake? Just be sure to share some snaps with us on social media. Ready, Set, Bake!
375g/13oz butter, softened
375g/13oz unrefined caster sugar
6 large free range eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
375g/13oz self-raising flour
2-3 tbsp milk
Few drops each of yellow, orange and red food colouring
1kg pack of royal icing
Butter icing ingredients
80g/10oz butter, softened
560g/20oz icing sugar
2-4 tbsp milk
Ginger biscuit ingredients
350g/12oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
175g/6oz light soft brown sugar
1 free range egg
4 tbsp golden syrup
To make the cake
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Grease and line the base of three 18cm/7in cake tins with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, and stir in the vanilla extract.
Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon, adding a little extra milk if necessary if it is too thick.
Divide the mixture equally between three mixing bowls. Then add the red, yellow and orange food colouring separately to the three bowls and mix well to get an even colour.
Spoon the cake mixtures into the three cake tins and gently spread out with a spatula.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Remove the cakes from the oven and set aside for five minutes, then remove from the tins and peel off the paper. Place onto a wire rack to cool completely.
You may want to carefully slice a little off the top of each cake so that they will form flat, even layers (this also means you can eat the offcuts, yum!)
To make the icing
Beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add half the icing sugar and beat until smooth. (This is best done with an electric mixer.)
Add the remaining icing sugar and one tablespoon of the milk and beat the mixture until creamy and smooth. Beat in the remaining milk if necessary to loosen the mixture a bit.
To make the ginger biscuits
Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir the sugar into the mixture.
Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in
clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Roll the dough out to a thickness of 0.5cm on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out biscuit shapes. (We used fox, squirrel, rabbit and bear cutters to sit with our autumnal theme.)
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the biscuits are light golden brown. Leave on the tray to cool for 10 minutes then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Once the biscuits have cooled use the best ones to arrange around the iced cake. (We used five or six.)
The rest of the biscuits are for you to munch on! We also blitzed up a few in the food possessor and sprinkled the crumbs around the cake.
To assemble and decorate the cake
Once the cakes are cool, spread the butter icing on top of each one, and stack one on top of the other. Then cover the sides of the cake with the remaining icing.
Roll out half of the royal icing to a thickness of about 1-2cm, then carefully lay it over the cake (it’s also easier to transport the icing using the rolling pin.) Smooth down and trim for a neat finish.
Take two golf ball-sized chunks of royal icing and colour each with a few drops of red and orange food colouring (this is quite tricky and messy – be prepared to have reddish-tinged hands!) We also added a little bit of blue to make the colouring more leafy and autumn-like.
Using leaf cutters of different shapes and sizes, cut out leaf decorations. Stick these on the cake using a little bit of jam.
Finally, arrange the ginger biscuits and biscuit crumbs around the edge of the cake. Serve up to friends and family and enjoy!