Fancy a cake making challenge? To mark Titanic Belfast’s fifth birthday, Great British Bake Off Finalist, Andrew Smyth has engineered a bespoke birthday cake for the occasion, and we’ve got the recipe!

Andrew, who is originally from Northern Ireland, the birthplace of the RMS Titanic, expertly designed this awesome cake.

The bottom layer has taken inspiration from what first-class passenger would have experienced on board. The luxurious genoise sponge incorporates the flavours of fresh strawberries, grapes and pink roses.

Whereas the top layer, shaped like Titanic’s funnel, takes a more modern twist as a chocolate madeira cake with a Bailey’s Cream filling, reflecting Titanic’s Northern Irish roots and celebrates the success of Titanic Belfast today.

Ingredients

For the 3 genoise sponges for the bottom tier (do in separate batches if too large)

  • 465g caster sugar
  • 15 medium eggs
  • 465g plain flour
  • 95g melted unsalted butter

For the Strawberry and Red Grape Jam

  • 340g red grapes, halved
  • 290g strawberries, cut into slices
  • 300g jam sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp lime juice

For the rose buttercream

  • 700g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2.1kg icing sugar
  • 4 tbsp soured cream
  • A little semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 tsp rose water

For the 3 chocolate madeira sponges for the top tier (do in separate batches if too large)

  • 788g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 788g caster sugar
  • 16 large eggs
  • 740g self-raising flour
  • 197g cocoa powder
  • 4 ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 395g melted plain chocolate (recommend Cadbury Bourneville)

For the Baileys buttercream

  • 180g butter, at room temperature
  • 550g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp soured cream
  • 2 tbsp baileys Irish cream liquor (plus a bit extra if required for texture)
  • A few drops brown gel food colouring

For the Biscuit Ticket

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g golden icing sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 200g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 medium egg
  • ½ heaped tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 200g Royal Icing Sugar
  • Around 35ml Lemon Juice (~ 1 lemon)
  • Gold/Yellow food colouring
  • Black food colouring

For decoration

  • A large 15-16” diameter round cake board, preferable a blue colour
  • Handful dried rose petals
  • Fresh strawberries and red grapes to lay around the board for photos
  • White fondant (for the number 5 on top tier)
  • Black fondant (for top part of chimney tier)
  • Light brown fondant (for bottom part of chimney tier)
  • Rust-coloured fondant (for Titanic stencil on base cake board in style of Titanic Belfast sign)

Method

For the 3 genoise sponges for the bottom tier (do in separate batches if too large)

Preheat the oven to fan 165 C and grease and line 3 10” diameter cake tins.
Recommend this stage is done separately for each sponge: On a large bowl over a pot of simmering water, whisk the eggs and sugar together until lukewarm. Remove from the heat and keep whisking for 5-7 minutes until trebled in volume and thick ribbons fall from the beaters when removed from the batter.

Gently sift in the flour in small amounts and fold gently to incorporate, ensuring no flour pockets get stuck at the bottom. Pour the melted butter around the rim of the bowl and quickly fold in to incorporate.

Gently pour the mixture evenly between the lined tins (quantities above are for all 3 cakes) and cook on the middle shelf of the oven for 20-22 minutes until spring to touch and golden brown. Cool completely on a cooling rack and level the top with a knife if necessary once cool.

For the Strawberry and Red Grape Jam

Add the fruit, jam sugar and lime juice to a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring the the boil, stirring regularly. Leave to bubble continuously for 5 minutes then check for consistency.

The jam is at setting point when a small teaspoon of the mix is set on a chilled plate and left for a few minutes and wrinkles when pushed with a finger. If not ready, continue to boil for a few minutes at a time then test again. Set to one side to cool.

For the rose buttercream

Add the soft butter to a large stand mixer with paddle attachment and beat gently until fluffy, usually a few minutes. Sieve in the icing sugar and mix very slowly to start with (to avoid massive clouds) until the icing starts to come together. Scrape down the bowl then mix on a higher speed for 3-4 minutes until it is not grainy and is uniform.

Add the soured cream, rose water and a little milk and gently mix on low speed until combined. Add milk as necessary to achieve a spreadable mix that still holds its shape when piped.

Transfer ⅔ of the mix to a large piping bag with star nozzle and keep the remaining ⅓ to one side and cover with cling film to stop a crust forming.

For the 3 chocolate madeira sponges for the top tier (do in separate batches if too large)

Preheat the oven to fan 140 C and grease and line 3 8” diameter cake tins.
In a large mixer with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (a few minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between each addition. Sieve in the flour and mix until combined.

Add the vanilla and melted dark chocolate and quickly mix to combine before the chocolate sets.

Pour the mix evenly between the lined tins (the quantities above are for all 3 cakes together) and cook on the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hr 20 – 1 hr 30 or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack and level the tops off with a knife once cool.

For the Baileys buttercream

Follow step 1 as for the rose buttercream.

Add the soured cream and baileys and gently mix on low speed until combined. Add baileys as necessary to achieve a spreadable mix that still holds its shape when piped. Beat in a few drops of the food colouring to give a golden brown shade then cover and set aside until use

For the Biscuit Ticket

Line a large baking tray with parchment and pre-heat the oven to Fan 160 C
Mix the flour, sugar and salt together then add the diced butter. Rub together lightly until it resembles breadcrumbs – you can also use a food processor and pulse to get to this stage. Whisk the egg and vanilla extract together then mix into the other ingredients.

Knead until uniform but no more then chill for 30 minutes in the fridge. Roll out to 5 mm thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut out a large 5” by 2 ½ “rectangle. Using a small round cutter, take small semicircles out of the perimeter of the rectangle to resemble and old-style ticket. Use the leftover dough for biscuits in any shape you like. Chill for another 15 minutes in the fridge then bake for 15-17 minutes until lightly golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the royal icing, put the icing sugar into a bowl along with the 35ml of lemon juice and beat with an electric hand mixer until it is thick and glossy. We want it to be pipeable but no slacker than that.

Transfer a quarter of the icing to another bowl and add black gel food colouring until very dark. Transfer to a small piping bag with No 2 small round nozzle and set aside. To the remainder, add some gold gel colouring to the icing or gold lustre to give it a sheen. Transfer a third of this icing to a different small piping bag with No 2 small round nozzle.

Pipe a rectangular border on the inside of the biscuit with the gold icing, leaving a few mm clearance around the outside of the biscuit. Add a little more lemon juice to the rest of the gold icing until it is pourable. “Flood” the inside of the piped perimeter with this icing and use a cocktail stick to push it to the edges. Leave to dry completely before icing “World’s #1 Tourist Attraction” in black icing on the biscuit. Set aside to dry.

For Assembly and Decoration

Put a little of the rose buttercream on the base of the cake board to secure the first cake. Layer the 3 genoise sponges on top of one another, with a thick layer of rose buttercream and the strawberry and grape jam between each layer.

Cover the outside of this entire cake in a crumb coat of buttercream then chill in the fridge for 20 minutes until firm. Pipe white rosettes onto the side of this cake, ensuring the gaps between rosettes are as small as possible.
Use cake dowelling to create a stable base for the 8” cake on top of the 10” cake. Assemble the 8” cakes on an 8” cake board, sandwiching them together with the Baileys buttercream. Cover the lower half of the cake with light brown fondant and the top half and top with black fondant to resemble the Titanic chimney stacks. Set this layer carefully on top of the dowelling in the middle of the 10” cake.

Sprinkle dried rose petals over the exposed top part of the 10” cake (which should be covered with a little rose buttercream). Carefully stick the iced ticket biscuit into the top tier along with setting a “5” cut out of white fondant on top of the cake. Cut out the “TITANIC” script out of rust coloured fondant to resemble the Titanic Belfast sign and set this at the base of the cake on the cake board.