PREP 20 mins
BAKING approx. 30 mins
CHILLING 2 hours
MAKES 1 x 13 cm (5 in) three-layer cake
SERVES approx. 14
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Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F), prepare three 13 cm (5 in) cake tins with cooking spray and line them with baking paper.
Put your pistachios in a blender and blend until fine, making sure you don’t overblend them and get nut butter. Put them through a sieve to remove any persistent chunky nuts—you can blend these again (and sieve again), or keep them for decorating (or just stick those nuts in yo’ mouth).
Place all the dry ingredients, including the ground pistachios, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low to combine. Chop your butter into cubes, add it to the dry ingredients and mix on low until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. I love this technique so much—it just feels like life is more simple this way.
In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients (not the strawberries, obviously) until combined. Add two-thirds of the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix on medium-high until thick and fluffy. Add the remaining wet ingredients and mix well until combined, thick and fluffy. You can’t beat this too much, so really beat the shit out of it to get that thick but fluffy consistency.
Scoop mixture evenly into the prepared tins (use your scales to get them all the same; see my tips on page 25). Finely chop your frozen strawberries and distribute evenly among the tins. Bake for about 30 mins, until the cakes are golden brown and a skewer poked into them comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for 5–10 mins, then turn out onto cooling racks.
Wrap your cooled cakes in plastic wrap and chill them for 2 hours (or overnight), to make them easier to trim and ice. Ice your cake with buttercream.
The sky is the limit in terms of decorating this cake. You may want to leave it simply finished with sharp-as-shit buttercream and top it with leftover chopped pistachios and freeze-dried strawberries, or you could get a li’l bit fancy up in the hiz-ouse like I have with this cute-as-F kitty cat design.
For the simple decoration, use 1 recipe Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream or Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream, with 1 recipe Strawberry Compote as your filling, plus the leftover chopped pistachios and freeze-dried strawberries.
If you have chosen to be extra like me, here are some easy tips for the kitty cake. Ice your cake with Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and once you have your sharp-as-shit buttercream put the cake back in the fridge while you prep the decorations.
You will need modelling chocolate for the ears, fresh flowers, florists’ tape, edible paint, a small food-safe paintbrush, a small amount of buttercream in a piping bag with a small piping tip (I used top #22), and a selection of sprinkles.
Knead your modelling chocolate until it is soft and resembles playdough consistency. Roll it out to about 5 mm (¼ in) thick, then cut into even triangles in proportion to the cake. Curve these so that they aren’t completely flat.
Choose the flowers you want and trim the stems so that you have at least 5–7 cm (2–3 in) of stem. Wrap the ends of each stem in florists’ tape to seal the cut end and protect the cake against contamination.
Take the cake out of the fridge and use the edible paint to paint a cute-as-F cat face on the front of the cake.
Pipe small dollops of buttercream where you want the ears to go, then place the moulded ears on top. Use edible paint to colour inside the ears if you wish. Pipe swirls of buttercream around the ears and add a few random dollops. Position your flowers around the ears, pushing the stems into the cake. I like to add more on one side than the other—personal aesthetics. Finally, add a few sprinkles around the ears and the top of the cake.