The Nutcracker and The Four Realms Cake
430 g 15 oz plain (all-purpose) flour
265 g (91/2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
125 g (41/2 oz/1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
375 ml (12½ fl oz/11/2 cups) full-cream (whole) milk
125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt (or sour cream)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
4 tbsp cocoa powder
4 drops orange food gel
4 tbsp activated charcoal powder or 5 drops black food gel
4 drops pink food gel
4 drops yellow food gel
10 drops blue food gel
4 drops white food gel
3 batches Swiss meringue buttercream
5 drops green food gel
5 drops blue food gel
5 drops purple food gel + 4 drops pink food gel
The land of Sweets decorations
For this realm you can use your favourite leftover Halloween candy.
The Land Of Snowflakes decorations
150g white chocolate, melted
The Land Of Flowers decorations
4 cups Swiss meringue buttercream taken from the 3 batches of Swiss meringue buttercream
5 drops pink food gel
5 drops pink food gel + 4 drops purple food gel
5 drops yellow food gel
5 drops leaf green food gel
Fourth Realm decorations
100g yellow candy melts
100g orange candy melts
100g black candy melts
The Land Of Snowflakes decorations
To make the land of snowflakes decorations, add your melted white chocolate to a piping bag fitted with a Wilton #4 piping tip. Lay out a piece of baking paper on your workbench and pipe out the snowflakes. Begin by piping a two lines crossing each other. Pipe v shapes on each end of the cross and then pipe another cross inside the large cross. Pipe about 20 of these. Some large (1 inch), some small ½ inch). Allow to set.
The Land Of Flowers decorations
To prepare the flowers, split the frosting into 4 mixing bowls. Colour one pink, one purple (pink and purple food gel), one yellow and the 4th bowl green. Mix until well combined.
Add the green frosting to a small leaf tip. Add the pink frosting to a Cake Craft #103 petal tip. Add the yellow to a Loyal #61 curved petal tip. You’ll also use the petal tip for the purple frosting.
In the video I did a two tone effect for the pink and purple frosting by adding purple or pink frosting to one side of the piping bag and white frosting to the other half of the frosting bag. You don’t have to do this, although it does give your flowers a more realistic look.
To pipe the flowers you’ll need a flower nail. These can be bought from cake decorating stores or online. They’ll make piping your flowers much easier. To use the flower nail add a small dab of frosting to the top of the nail and place a small square of baking paper over it. Now you’re ready to pipe your flowers. The best thing to do is experiment with different looks or techniques. To pipe flowers using the petal tip pipe, hold the tip flat sided to the baking paper and pipe small ‘u’ shapes as you slowly spin the flower nail. Pipe them overlapping each other. Add some small tiny spikes in the middle of your flowers using the yellow frosting. I used a Wilton #4 round tip for those.
For the yellow flowers I simple piped holding the piping bag on a slight angle and piped from the baking paper up about 1cm to create petals. I started with the inside petals and made my way out.
When you’re piping your flowers just be mindful not to make them too big. No bigger than a few cm in width.
Once you’ve piped about 30 flowers place them onto a baking tray and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours. I placed mine in there overnight. It was a warm day when I was handing them so I only took out a couple of the petals from the fridge at a time.
The Fourth Realm
For the fourth realm shards simply add each seperate coloured melted candy melts to a piece of baking paper. Use a small offset spatula to flatten it out to a couple mm thick. Once spread out, allow to set at room temp. Do that for all four chocolate colours.
Use a large knife dipped in boiling water and dried to carefully cut out the shards. Aim to get them different sizes and different shapes.
To prepare the frosting for the entire cake, add peppermint extract to the frosting and mix until well combined. You’ll be using 3 batches of frosting for this cake. You’ll be making 1 batch of frosting at a time. Most home mixing bowls or stand mixes can only make 1 batch at a time. If you have a large stand mixer you can make 2 batches at a time.
Please note: to make the 6 layered cake in this recipe, you’ll need to make 2 batches of vanilla cake. All other recipes and measurements are enough to put the cake together and decorate it.
Preheat a fan-forced oven to 140C (280F) or 160C (320F) for a conventional oven. Spray three 8” cake tins with oil spray and line the bottom with baking paper. Set aside
Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixing bowl and mix together using a hand mixer until well combined.
Next add the softened butter and mix on low speed until mixture reaches a crumbly sand like texture.
Add the eggs, milk, oil, Greek yogurt and vanilla extract. Mix on low speed until no dry ingredients are showing. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds. It’s at this point that you can add any additional flavourings or coloured gels to the batter.
Split the batter into 6 mixing bowls. Colour one black using the cocoa powder and charcoal powder. Colour one orange, one pink and one yellow. You’re going to make two shades of blue batter. Use 7 drops in one bowl and 3 drops of blue food gel and the white food gel in the light shade of blue. Mix all of these until well combined. Add each one to a piping bag.
Pipe squiggles of black and orange into one cake tin, squiggles of pink and yellow into another cake tin and squiggles of both blues into the third cake tin.
Fill three 8” cake tins with batter. I find using an ice cream scoop to help me do this makes it easy to distribute the batter evenly so that everything bakes at the same time.
Bake for 50-60 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If the pick comes out with wet batter, bake for a further 10 min at a time until fully baked. Allow the cakes to cool to room temperature inside the cake tins and then chill them in the fridge overnight. Chilling your cakes overnight makes them easier to trim and decorate. So I bake my cakes the day before I decorate them.
To trim your chilled cakes, use a cake leveller or large serrated knife to carefully trim the crust off the top of each cake before you trim each cake in half. You’ll end up with 6 layers of cake.
To crumb coat your cake, add a dab of peppermint frosting onto an 8” cake board or flat serving plate. Use a small offset spatula to spread the frosting around before adding the first cake layer. In this case it will be the black and orange cake. Gently press down the centre of the cake layer to make sure it’s stuck to the frosting underneath.
Add frosting to a piping bag and frost a ring around the top of the second orange and black cake layer. Fill the centre with more frosting. Use your small offset spatula to smoothen out the frosting before you add the next layer of cake. Repeat with the remaining layers. The next layers will be the blue cake followed by the pink and yellow cakes.
Add more frosting around and top and sides of the cake. Use the small spatula to smoothen out the top and sides of the cake, taking care to fill in any gaps in between each layer of cake.
Use a cake scraper (otherwise known as a bench scraper) to smoothen out the frosting on the sides and top. Get it as neat as you can. This should just be a neat, thin layer of frosting which is aimed at trapping any cake crumbs so that random bits of cake crumbs don’t show up on the final layer of frosting. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.
While your cake is chilling prepare the final layer of frosting by adding the pink and purple food gel to about 3 cups of frosting to make the purple frosting, blue food gel to another 2.5 cups of frosting to make the blue frosting and green food gel to another 2.5 cups of frosting to make the green frosting. Mix those in separate mixing bowls until well combined. Add to piping bags and snip the end off. Begin by piping two rings of the purple frosting at the bottom of the cake. Then pipe two rings of green frosting and finish with two rings of blue frosting. Add purple frosting to the top.
Spread the purple frosting on the top of the cake using a small offset spatula. Don’t worry about getting it perfect, we’re coming back to smoothen it out.
Use a cake scraper to smoothen out the sides of the cake. Scrape off the excess frosting from the scraper each time you go around the cake to make sure it stays nice and neat.
Once you’ve got the sides looking neat, scrape off the excess frosting from the top.
The next bit it fun, cos everything you’ve made finally comes together. Add the shards on the purple frosting at the bottom of the cake. Carefully add the flowers to the green layer.
Pipe some green buttercream leaves next to the flowers using the Wilton #104 leaf tip and add the white chocolate snowflakes to the blue frosting. Finish by adding the candy to the top of the cake!
STORAGE: store in an airtight container for up to 3 days (refrigerated and thawed 1 hour before serving).
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR CAKE TIN: For this recipe you’ll need at least one 8” cake tin but preferably three 8” cake tins. To prepare the tin, spray with oil spray. To prepare the baking paper use a pen to trace around the bottom of the cake tin on to the baking paper. Use scissors to cut slightly inside the circle you traced. Place the traced side down onto the baking tin with oil spray.
HAND MIXER: Can be made using a hand mixer (always mix on lowest speed) or a hand whisk. Take care not to over mix the batter.
OVEN TEMPERATURE: Each oven is different. Some are old, some are new. Some ovens can be hotter on the inside than the temp you set your oven at. If you find your cupcakes, cakes or macarons are browning or cracking, turn the oven temp down 10C. A handy trick is to get an oven thermometer which sits inside the oven and will give you an accurate temperature reading. They’re inexpensive and can be purchased online or at your local kitchen supply store. And always bake in the centre rack of the oven for best results!
BUTTER: Make sure the butter is very soft for the cake mixture. There’s two ways to do this. Microwave for 5 seconds at a time flipping the butter on each side until very soft (not melted). If you don’t have a microwave run a large bowl over hot water. Dry the bowl and place over the butter for 1 min. The heat from the bowl will create a warm enough environment to soften the butter.
BAKING TIME: This cake will typically bake on a lower temp and for a little longer than regular cake recipes. I find a low temperate and a slow bake results in flatter tops and caramelisation so that if the cake is coloured it doesn’t change colour and brown. After 50 minutes, stick a skewer into the centre of the cake, if it comes out with wet batter, bake for another 10 minutes until the skewer comes out with crumbs or completely clean.
Large mixing bowls
Magic Whisk for wet ingredients
Stand mixer (or hand mixer)
8” cake tin
Ice cream scoop (optional)
Revolving cake stand