Last summer we (Mr MT and our two daughters that is) were invited to our brother in-law John’s 50th birthday party. As I am a bit cake obsessed I offered to make John’s birthday cake as our gift to him. His wife suggested I make something to do with tennis as John is a tennis coach and is mad on the game, so to make a tennis racket was a no brainer! Jane his wife sent me a shot of the racket he plays with and then the fun began. The cake had to be a little bit thicker than a regular racket (obviously) so there would be enough cake in the design to eat. I started by making a paper template of the racket from paper so I could fit the whole design out of one rectangular cake. It’s a Madeira cake with raspberry jam and butter cream filling.
How to make a tennis racket cake:
This recipe will make a 9 inch round or square cake. Heat the oven to Gas mark 4 / 350.F/ 180.C
To make the tennis racket cake I used three times this recipe.
6oz/ 150g butter (at room temperature)
7oz / 200g caster sugar
1 tea spoon vanilla essence
8oz /225 g plain flour
1 1/2 teasp of baking powder
3 tbsp hot water
1. Line and grease a 9 inch tin and set aside. Allow the oven to heat up to the correct temperature – Gas mark 4 / 350.F / 180.C.
Start by blending the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy. You can make this cake by mixing by hand but it will feel like you are running a marathon with all the physical exertion needed!
2. Add the vanilla essence.
3. Add the eggs one at a time. To stop the mixture from curdling add a spoon of the flour as you add each egg.
4. Once all the eggs have been combined, sieve the rest of the flour with the baking powder and continue to mix. Ensure all the ingredients have been blended to a smooth consistency then add the hot water-slowly- till it is completely combined.
5.Pour the cake mix into the tin and pop it in the oven for 55 minutes.
6.Once you have removed the cake from the oven leave it to cool for 10-20 minutes then turn it out onto a cooling rack. Never leave the cake in the tin to cool completely as it will ‘sweat’ and go soggy rather than stay moist.
7. To test if the cake is ready lightly press the top of the cake. If the surface springs back straight away it’s ready. If it slowly comes back it needs more time. Another way to test if a deep cake is ready and cooked right through is to put a knife into the centre of the cake then pull it out. If it comes out clean then the cake is ready. If the knife is gloopy it probably needs another 20 minutes or so. If it’s only a little ‘wet’ give it another 10 minutes baking.
Remember that if you increase the size of the cake tin and ingredients then you need to increase the baking time. When I make a large 12 inch cake (round or square) I triple the ingredients and the cake always takes over 1 hour 45 minutes to be baked to perfection
Ingredients for the filling
250g / 9 oz Butter (at room temperature)
400g/ 14 oz icing sugar
Mix the two together until light and fluffy. If it’s too thick to spread on the cake add a drop of milk at the same time to loosen it up.
To make the cake
I cut each cake in half through the centre then add the butter cream and jam to the middle. Heat the jam a little to make it easier to spread. I then cut the basic shape out using the template and patch together any extra pieces like the handle. Use butter cream as‘glue’. Remove the parts that dip in on the top like where the strings are and at the top of the handle.
Cover the whole cake with a thin layer of butter cream then place a large rolled out piece of the dark blue sugar paste (which is available pre-coloured from cake shops or in white from supermarkets) over the cake and smooth it flat with your hands. Keep rubbing till it’s really smooth.
Next cut out a green insert for behind the strings. Keep it as neat as possible when positioning. I cover the cake board in green icing too so the racket looks like it’s sitting on grass.
Add the detailing on the top of the racket and cut a long thin strip to create a handle strap spiralling around the end.
Use cutters to make the wording on the side of the racket and stick them onto the side of the cake with a damp sponge or paint brush(used just for food)
Icing the strings last of all. Use a thin nozzle on a piping bag with royal icing sugar to create the lines. Mark regular intervals around the cake before starting the strings to make sure that they are even.
To make the ball
I used more cake cut into different size circles. I then ‘stuck’ them together with butter cream and shaped them into a smooth ball with a bread knife.
Cover the ball shape with a thin layer of butter cream then cover with a pale yellowy green icing. Roll out a long thin strip to wrap around the ball for the details.
Use a small amount of royal icing to secure the cake and ball into position so it doesn’t slip around.
Once everything is in place write your message on the cake board.
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