8 is such a cool cake shape to make! Just 2 round cakes with a slice off each end and pushed together. I made a sugar-free and dairy-free vegan chocolate ganache cake and vegan lemon cake and contrasted them with a decadent swiss meringue buttercream for our daughter's birthday. She couldn't resist licking the bowl.

This is a standard way to make swiss meringue buttercream. I've also read a reverse method where you cream the butter then add cooled egg white/sugar meringue. Maybe I'll try that next time.

5 egg whites

1 c granulated sugar

pinch salt

340g cold butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

Take butter out of the fridge and cut into tablespoon-size pieces. The butter can't be too warm and soft or it will melt and make the buttercream liquidy.

Place a large bowl on a double boiler over medium heat. Whisk in egg whites, sugar and salt. Whisk until the mixture reaches 71C. If you don't have a thermometer dip your finger in the mixture and it should feel hot and you shouldn't feel any sugar granules when you rub it between your fingers.

Take off the heat and continue whisking until stiff, glossy peaks form and the bowl should no longer be hot to touch, about 10 minutes.

Whisk in the butter one tablespoon at a time, and the buttercream will slowly become light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla. You can use buttercream straight away or store in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to 2 months.

Place your cake on your serving tray. Place pieces of baking paper around the edges of your cake. Once you've finished icing your cake take these away and your plate will be clean.

Spread a light crumb coat of buttercream over your cake. it doesn't have to be too neat. Place cake in fridge until the icing is firm. Apply second layer of buttercream and decorate as desired. Remove baking paper.