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Naked Caramel Vanilla Drip Cake

This week I married my long-time love and now have Starr status. (This will explain my sign-off name change.) Blithely ignoring well-meaning friends' and family's advice, I chose to cater and decorate the event myself, a mammoth task that wouldn't have been possible without the help of my hardworking mother, and amazingly creative, super-organised sister-in-love. I intend sharing a number of winning, wedding dishes in the weeks and months ahead, but was so thrilled with our fun-filled wedding cake, that I'm sharing the secret to producing this here. (It most certainly isn't only for weddings and would fit right in at a birthday party or whenever cake is called for.) Naked cakes are now all the range - meaning frosting is lighter and allows hints of the cake beneath to show through - while the super popular drip technique continues to make a style statement. Achieving this showstopping look is remarkably easy, and hugely satisfying, and can easily be adapted to use boxed cake mixes and ready-to-use frosting. Go naked at your next social event and get everyone talking!

200 grams soft butter/margarine 3 1/4 cups flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 1/4 cups sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla 4 eggs 1 1/4 cups milk/soya milk Vanilla frosting (recipe in notes) Lotus spread * This is the most outstanding vanilla cake and is well worth making. CAKE 1: Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and beat butter with an electric mixer till light and fluffy. 2: Add vanilla, and then add the 4 eggs one at a time, beating after every addition. 4: Add flour and milk alternatively in 3 or 4 batches and beat till smooth after every addition. 5: Divide batter equally between 3 greased and floured 9 inch pans - these are small pans - and bake at 180 C for approximately 30 minutes till lightly golden. (SEE NOTES) 6: Allow to cool completely then remove from tins and slice domed tops off cakes to level them. Place in freezer for at least a couple of hours as frozen cakes are far easier to decorate. TO DECORATE 1: Place one layer of cake on a plate or stand, spoon on 1/3 cup frosting and spread to cover, then top with a second layer of cake. Repeat to make a 3-layer cake sandwiched together with lots of frosting. 2: Spoon a generous amount of frosting onto the top of cake and spread over the top and down sides to cover well. Remember you don't have to cover completely if you want a 'naked cake' looking and it's perfectly OK for cake to show through in places. 3: Place open jar of Lotus spread in the microwave for 30 to 40 seconds till liquid, then gradually pour over the top of the cake, gently directing with a knife to make it drip down the sides as per my cake above. 4: Place in refrigerator to set - melted Lotus will firm up completely to make a wonderful caramel-dripped shell - then decorate with fresh flowers or fresh cherries or cookies/chocolate etc. COOK'S NOTES: Make your own vanilla frosting by beating 200 grams room temperature butter/margarine with approximately 4 cups of powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons of cream/non-dairy milk, 2 teaspoons of vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Beat on low speed till creamy adding more powdered sugar if it's too thin or more cream if too thick. This cake is absolutely delicious but you can save time by using a cake mix and ready-made frosting and, when you add the Lotus drip topping, it will deliver the same wow effect. Find the required 9 inch disposable pans at Big Deal or make just 1 or 2 layers of a larger cake and increase cooking time. You can't go wrong and producing the naked, dripped effect is hugely satisfying.

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