Spiced apple cake with cider buttercream

The Birthday Cake Book
Laura Edwards

Take this cool wigwam cake along to the festival, or chill out in the garden instead. Perfect for any festival goer’s birthday celebration. If you want to make this as a ‘normal’ cake, decrease all quantities by one-third and bake in two 15 cm cake tins.

For the cake


Quantity Ingredient
unsalted butter, for the tins
420g self-raising flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
450g eating apples, peeled, cored and quite finely diced
120g sultanas
3/4 lemon, juiced
270g caster sugar
300ml sunflower oil
120g light muscovado sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
335ml whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the cider buttercream

Quantity Ingredient
160g unsalted butter, softened
200g icing sugar
4 tablespoons cider
or 1-2 tablespoons calvados/apple brandy

To decorate

Quantity Ingredient
300g black sugarpaste
icing sugar, to dust
1kg white sugarpaste
red food colour paste
caramel-ivory food colour paste
egg yellow food colour paste
edible glue
matchmaker chocolates
bunting, made from a strip of 3 mm black ribbon and tiny triangles of paper

Special equipment

Quantity Ingredient
20 cm round cake board
‘v’ cutter
7 cm circle cutter


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan 160°C. Butter three 15 cm, 7.5 cm deep, round cake tins and line the bases with baking parchment. If you only have two 15 cm round tins, then make the full amount of cake batter, divide by three and leave one-third in a bowl. Bake it as soon as a tin becomes free.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger and cinnamon and set aside. Next, toss the apples and sultanas with the lemon juice and 60 g of the caster sugar.
  3. In an electric mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand-held electric whisk, beat together the oil, the remaining caster sugar, the muscovado sugar and eggs until light and thick; this should take three to five minutes on a high speed. On a lower speed, add the flour mixture alternating with the milk and vanilla, beating after each addition until smooth. Do not over-mix. Lastly, gently fold in the apples and sultanas.
  4. Divide the cake batter between the tins and bake the cakes for 50–55 minutes, or until a skewer emerges clean. Let cool in the tins for five minutes, then turn out, remove the papers and cool on a wire rack.
  5. In an electric mixer, beat the butter until really pale and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and beat for a further five minutes. Beat in the cider or Calvados very slowly – only a few drops at a time – to avoid splitting the buttercream.
  6. To decorate, place a cake on the round board, sticking it on with buttercream. Layer the three cakes with half the buttercream and place one on top of the other. Chill for an hour to make it easier to cut. Stick a skewer through the centre of the cake, right down to the board, and use it as a guide while you cut the cake into a cone shape. When you are happy with the shape, spread the remaining buttercream all over the cake.
  7. Make the doorway by rolling out the black sugarpaste on a work surface dusted with icing sugar to a 6 mm thick triangle, measuring 15 x 15 x 13 cm. Place at the base of the cake. Re-roll the clean offcuts and cut out 20 black ‘V’s (about 2 mm thick).
  8. Take about 50 g of the white sugarpaste and roll it out 2 mm thick. Cut 18 white circles (I used the end of a piping nozzle). Colour another 100 g of the sugarpaste red. Colour the remaining sugarpaste using the caramel-ivory and a touch of the egg yellow to make a warm taupe. Make a small cone of 30 g taupe sugarpaste to form the top of the wigwam. Next, roll out the taupe sugarpaste to cover the wigwam. It is easiest to do this by dividing it into two; dust the work surface with icing sugar and roll out half the sugarpaste to 6–7 mm thick and 25 x 22 cm. Starting by the doorway, fold the sugarpaste around the cake, smoothing with your hands and easing to the edge of the board, as you need to cover it completely. Don’t worry if the edge is slightly rough as you can place a strip of red icing over it later on. Cut the sugarpaste to shape and re-use any clean offcuts.
  9. Roll out a second rectangle, again starting at the doorway, and ease around, pressing gently on to the cake, cutting off the excess and joining the sugarpaste at the back.
  10. Make two strips of red icing, both about 2.5 x 25 cm, and attach to the base of the wigwam using edible glue. Make another red band the same width and attach it to the top. Cut out four red circles the same size as the white circles. Finish by rolling the taupe sugarpaste 5 mm thick and cutting out a 7 cm circle. Attach four red circles. Stick to the top of the wigwam. Attach the white circles and black ‘V’s on to the cake and stick five Matchmakers into the top. Break the other two Matchmakers to form a little fire. Drape over the bunting.
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