I love the look of these number cakes (also known as cream tarts or alphabet cakes) that are all over Instagram and was thrilled when my sister asked me to make her one for her 21st Birthday.
While they’re a bit fiddly to make and decorate, I was surprised by how quick they are to make; largely as they take so little time to bake in the oven. I also love how customisable they are – you can use any letters or numbers you choose, pick your decoration colour scheme, and change the flavour of the filling to taste. I went with a traditional almond biscuit with a vanilla custard filling and decorated with strawberries and pink and white flowers, meringues and macarons.
Ingredients (makes two A3-sized number cakes, serves approx. 20)
Pâte Sablée (biscuit layers)
– 225g butter, room temperature
– ½ cup icing sugar
– 1 egg
– 2¼ cups flour
– 1 cup almond meal
– 1 teaspoon almond essence
– 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Vanilla Custard Filling
– 6 cups thickened cream
– 3 100g packets Cottee’s Instant Vanilla Pudding mixes
– 1 cup icing sugar
– 3 teaspoons vanilla essence
– Cut out A3 sized numbers (I used a 1 and a 2 stretched to fill an A3 page each in bolded Arial Black font)
– Extra large square silver cake board
– Fresh, pesticide-free flowers
– Sugar flowers
– Strawberries (halved)
- To make the biscuit layers, place all pâte sablée ingredients into a food processor and blitz until combined.
- Remove the dough from the processor and knead gently for 30 seconds until smooth. Halve the dough, press each into a disc shape, cover in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 180ºC.
- Roll one of the pieces of dough between two pieces of baking paper until it’s big enough for your number template (approx. 5-6 mm thick). Carefully cut out the first number from the dough, keeping the excess pieces. Place onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Repeat with the same number and the excess dough (remember that you need two of each number).
- Bake the two biscuits for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely before VERY gently transferring one of the biscuits onto to the silver cake board and setting the other aside.
- Take out the second half of the dough from the refrigerator and repeat steps 4-6 for the second number.
- To make the vanilla filling, whip the cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer until peaks form. Alternately add the pudding mix and the icing sugar while beating, until the filling is combined and very thick.
- Spoon the filling into a piping bag with a medium-sized round nozzle and pipe even dollops in rows on each number (as below)
- Gently sandwich the biscuit pairs on top of the filling and repeat step 9.
- Decorate with flowers, macarons and meringues.
- The biscuits can be made the day ahead and kept in an airtight container, but don’t pipe the filling or assemble the cake until the day of serving.
- If any of your biscuits break, don’t panic, simply ‘glue’ the biscuit back together with some of the vanilla filling prior to piping the filling on top and decorating – no-one will ever know!
- Can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days but the biscuit layers will go soft.
Biscuit recipe adapted from ‘Cream Tart’ recipe on Home Cooking Adventure.com
Vanilla filling recipe adapted from ‘The Best Whipped Cream Frosting’ on Two Sisters Crafting.com