Using a simple syrup in-between filled cake layers makes the finished cake moist. Simple syrup also adds flavour when a liqueur, flavouring extract or fruit juice is added to it. The sweetened syrup can be brushed or drizzled on using a squeeze bottle with a special multi-holed nozzle on the end.
Basic simple syrup
Simple syrup is a mixture of water and sugar and is used in baking to keep finished products, like cakes, quick breads and fruitcakes, from drying out. To make about 355 ml (1 1/2 cups) of simple syrup, take 144 g (1 cup) regular granulated sugar and mix it with 237 ml (1 cup) of water in a small saucepan. Heat it to boiling, then reduce heat and let it simmer slowly for about three minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat source and let the mixture cool completely before using. If making in advance, store the finished simple syrup in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for up to two weeks.
The finished simple syrup can be flavoured with a variety of ingredients depending on the finished cake. Simple syrups flavoured with a fruit purée or fruit juices are nice for cakes with a fruit mousse filling. Liqueurs, such as Grand Marnier, lend a slightly orange flavour, and only a tablespoon or two is needed to flavour a cup of finished simple syrup. Drops of vanilla, almond or raspberry extract are popular choices for chocolate and plain vanilla icing layer cakes.
Simple syrup is applied to cakes in two main ways. The first is using a pastry brush. Dip the end of the brush into the simple syrup and lightly blot the cake layer in an up and down motion. Use light brush strokes to prevent delicate cakes from breaking up underneath the brush. Another way is using a squirt bottle with a special nozzle. These squirt bottles can drizzle small amounts of the sweetened syrup onto the cake by holding it up over the cake layer and squeezing lightly to dispense the simple syrup.
Simple syrup is used to keep cake moist and to add flavour, but it also can be used for other desserts as well. Try serving an herb-infused simple syrup over fresh cut berries for a light dessert or drizzled over a fruit sorbet. Simple syrups are also added to beverages to quickly sweeten a drink without waiting for sugar to dissolve.