May 1, 2013

Don't Underestimate the Amount of Time it Takes to Ice a Cake

My two dearest friends got married this past Saturday. I had been helping them plan this wedding for the past few months. On Friday, they threw a pre-wedding party. A chance for people to mingle, eat good food, and drink way too much champagne. Mr. H and myself, with little self-control, are those two people who drank far too much. This put an interesting twist on the next days events. My 9:00 am hair appointment seemed like far more of a task than it should've been, and although I put on my finest smile the day of the wedding (by 'put-on' I mean literally painted it on with lipstick), I was hurting on the inside. Not the type of hurting you feel when you break up with a partner, in your soul. No, this was literal pain. In my digestive region. 

As the day progressed, I was able to shake off the 'I drank far too much feeling' around 6:00 pm. Just in time to have a few glasses of wine before my toast. At this point in my story, you're probably thinking that I am some sort of wild alcoholic who can't get control of herself. I assure you, this is not the case. I was merely fueling up with liquid courage, getting ready to share my personal and private feelings about two friends whom mean the world to me in front of a group of 75 people. Luckily, I had just enough wine to wash away the jitters, but not so much that people will be talking about me for years as the drunken maid-of-honor who kept rambling on about something or other. All-in-all, it was a total success. I think.



Besides all of the drinking this past weekend, I was somewhat productive, I swear. Thursday night I decided to make a celebratory cake, to show my dearest friends how much I care. I made a trip to the cake store to purchase little cake pans, because in my opinion, tiny cakes are the best. There were only a few minor mishaps during the whole process, which left me with an entire (less attractive) cake for myself.

The cake recipe I used is a good one - the best I've ever made. It always turns out so moist and chocolaty that I have a hard time even considering a different option. I used a chocolate ganache to layer the cake, and a chocolate buttercream frosting for the fancy decorations. I was in a bit of a rush when I iced the cake, underestimating the amount of time it would take to frost and take photos. Next time, I might frost it the night before, that way I can focus on perfecting my decorating techniques, lining up the petals in perfect order, instead of missing half the top row - which is demonstrated in the photo below. I could have left this photo out, leaving you with the impression that I am an expert cake decorator, but what fun would that be. Nevertheless, if you throw a few pretty flowers on your cake, and get your friends drunk enough, everyone will think you are awesome. 


THREE LAYER CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE FILLING AND CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING RECIPE (print)
cake adapted from The Essence Of Chocolateganache adapted from The Kitchn
makes 3 - 6 x 2 inch cakes
notes: I only have 2 cake pans, so I divided the batter into 3. Baked the first two, and the baked the final one last.

GANACHE INGREDIENTS ***make the ganache two hours beforehand
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
16 ounces semi sweet chocolate
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, butter, and sugar, and salt on low heat, until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Stir in the chocolate and vanilla, until the chocolate has melted. Cover and let cool until it has reached a spreadable consistency - 2 hours or more.

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CAKE INGREDIENTS
unsalted butter and flour for pans
2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup whole milk
1 cup boiling water

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Using one of the cake pans, trace and cut two circles from parchment paper. Grease the cake pans with butter and then place the parchment paper circles into the bottom of the pans. Grease the top of the parchment paper with butter, and then sprinkle the bottom and the sides of the pans with flour. Tap any excess flour out. Set the pans to the side.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda with a wire whisk.

Add the slightly beaten eggs and combine.

Add the canola oil and the milk. Stir with a whisk or wooden spoon, for two minutes. Add the boiling water and combine.

Divide the batter into three, and pour into the cake pans. Place into the oven on the middle rack and bake for 30 - 35 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cakes are done. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes. Turn them over, and gently tap them out of their pans. Let them finish cooling on a wire rack. If you want your cakes to be the same height, and perfectly flat on top, you can use a cake leveler.

Once the cakes have cooled completely, take a tbsp of the buttercream frosting, and place a dollop onto the middle of the cake stand or plate - whatever you are going to use to showcase your cake. Cut four 3 inch strips of parchment paper, and make a box around the blob of icing. Lay the first cake layer onto the icing blob, making sure that the parchment paper is separating the cake from directly touching the stand. This will prevent the icing form falling onto the stand, and making a mess.

Spread a layer of the ganache on top of the first cake layer. Repeat with the other two. If your cakes are sliding all over the place, insert a wooden skewer down the middle, and then remove once you are ready to frost with buttercream. Cover the entire cake with ganache, sides and top. Place the cake into the fridge for 15 minutes to allow it to cool and set.

Remove the cake from the fridge. Remove the skewer, and pull away the parchment paper strips from the bottom. Ice the top of the cake into a smooth layer using a spatula. Using an icing tip #12, and a small angled spatula, pipe 6 - 7 small dime size dots in a straight vertical row down the side of the cake. With the angled spatula, smear each dot, horizontally to the right. Place the next row, one inch to the right of the first. Smear the dots to the right. Continue until you have covered the whole cake. Once you have reached the end, it will be hard to connect the petals. You will be left will a seam. Cover the top of the cake with flowers. Remove just before eating the cake. (Do not eat the flowers) 

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BUTTERCREAM INGREDIENTS
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 - 4 tbsp heavy cream

While the cakes are cooling, add the butter to a stand-mixer bowl. With the paddle attachment, cream the butter for a few minutes. With the mixer set to the lowest speed, sift in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Mix until combined. Increase the speed to medium, and add the salt and vanilla. Slowly add in the cream, until your icing is a thick enough consistency to hold its shape when decorating. If it has become to thin, add more sugar, too thick, add more cream. Continue mixing for 3 minutes, until fluffy.  Add he frosting to a piping bas with a #12 tip.

58 comments:

  1. This is so incredibly beautiful! And no, I never do underestimate the time it takes to frost a cake... which is why I stick to cupcakes with a simple smear ;)

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    1. Thanks Tiffany. Cupcakes are much simpler.

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  2. So, so, so, so beautiful! Still trying to pick my jaw up off the ground. I'm a fan of mini cakes too. Use my 6" cake pans like they are going out of style.

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  3. Love this! When I made my birthday cake I tried the scallop icing method but got too impatient and eventually said SCREW IT! and started slathering frosting all over it ;) I admire your patience, woman! Gorgeous cake.

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    1. That is usually the way I proceed, but I was under a bit of pressure.

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  4. haha... truly lovely. i agree, tiny cakes are the best!

    gorgeous photos, and i'm positive your drunk friends thought you were awesome!

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  5. My friend, Chantal, recommended your blog to me and she has impecable taste. Your words and stories are like the chocolate ganache filling*, just such a joy to consume. Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers,
    Sara
    @addalittlelemon

    *cheeseball alert

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  6. LOL.. cute story and you totally came across normal. That would be me too! :) I love the frosting look. And, I have to say frosting is my most abhorred part of cake decorating. I even took a class once to try and get a firm grip on it and sadly, I have to say, no amount of liquid fortification is going to make me like it :)

    On another note, despite the missing synchrony of the top layer, it's a stunning cake and I am sure your friends delightfully dug into it! :)) Congratulations on your friends' weddings!

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  7. this is friggen beautiful. and i love your site design! i must come back again soon...

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  8. Having a couple drinks pre-toast is a must! And way to be so casual about such a BEAUTIFUL cake! Seriously, I'm totally impressed. I bet they loved it!

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    1. definitely a must. Makes things run a little smoother.

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  9. Holy mackerel -- this cake. THIS CAKE. (I figure if I say it louder you'll understand how much I am in love with this cake.) You are so ridiculously talented, lady!

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  10. looks fancy and delicious !

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  11. What a spectacular looking cake -- your friends must have loved it. I love it and it wasn't even for me! I will remember your warning about underestimating the time it takes to ice a cake as I will be using this same technique for one in June.

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    1. Thanks Liz. She did adore it.

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  12. I have BEEN THERE, a little more often than I'd like to admit. Sometimes the booze just flows too easily at ceremonial social functions and the next morning is FILLED with peeps asking, all too knowingly/painfully reminding-ly, "How are YOU feeling?" Oy. But! Good on you for breezing through that speech and for making this stunning cake. Seriously, the prettiest chocolate cake I ever did see.

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  13. That is the most beautiful cake I've ever seen. Amazing.

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  14. What a GORGEOUS cake, Heather! Amazing artistry - both in the cake and photos. Just beautiful!

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  15. I have few of those stories, painful kind, where I would promise the whole day not to touch another glass of wine, ever again! But then a promise made while you are on hangover doesn't really count ;) As for the cake, I am sold! That tiny error you mentioned, un-noticeable. if I wouldn't have read, I wouldn't have known. Trust me!

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    1. I agree. Thanks, I'm glad you hardly noticed.

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  16. Wahoo this cake is gorgeous ! I discover you blog with this recipe and i just want to see more !

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  17. This cake looks amazing. Damn your drunken abilities.

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    1. It's taken years to perfect them.

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  18. Truly a work of art. Just beautiful. LOVE this!

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  19. oh my gosh. that's a stunning cake! truly work of art :)

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  20. This is the most beautiful looking cake! So, so stunning!

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  21. Sharlzie07 May, 2013

    oh wow I want this for my birthday! Simply DIVINE

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    1. I'll cross my fingers for you ;)

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  22. This is so insanely beautiful...

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  23. I am absolutely in love with the way you photograph.

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  24. Is it a cake per wedding? Maybe that would be incentive enough to continue :)

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  25. So beautiful! I love your photography style and the flowers on this cake are beautiful! Also I liked this story. It was quite amusing... :)

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  26. I used your recipe for a birthday cake and it was the best chocolate cake I have ever had. Now they want me to make it for other birthdays as well.. Just wondering how long you have had this cake last before in the fridge?

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    1. That's fantastic. I'm glad everyone enjoyed the cake. It is my favorite chocolate cake recipe.

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  27. That cake is gorgeous! It's such a simple idea and turns out so impressive!

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