Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cherry Chip Cake for a Baby Shower!

My first time doing TWO things: a ruffle cake and ombre icing! When my co-workers started planning a baby shower for a woman I work with, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity for me to try the cherry chip recipe I'd been eyeing and the ruffle icing. It was so much fun! I just love making pretty things, and I thought the ruffles resembled a little tutu dress that a baby girl might wear. Everybody exclaimed how amazing this cake looked and that it seemed so difficult to make, but really it's not! Even strangers on the bus were commenting on it.

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of the inside of the cake or how to make the ruffles. I thought it might be a little odd if I brought my camera along to work and stopped everybody before eating so I could snap a few pictures. Sean has gotten somewhat used to me doing that at home... but I think at work would be a bit of a stretch. There's a really great video tutorial on youtube for how to make the ruffles here. It takes no time at all and can be very forgiving; you don't notice a little blip nearly as much as if you might when looking at a 'smooth' iced cake. Credit goes to Deborah from Taste and Tell for creating such a lovely cherry chip cake recipe from scratch, as there are so few out there! Paired with my favourite vanilla Italian meringue buttercream it makes a stunning cake, visually and in taste!

 Yield: This recipe is made for 2 9-inch pans. However, I ended up using 2 6-inch and the remainder went into 2 3-inch pans.

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup milk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon cherry extract
1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice
1 10-ounce jar maraschino cherries, finely chopped (I used my mini food processor to get them quite small. You want to make sure they're small enough so that they don't sink to the bottom from their weight.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 9-inch pans with shortening and then dust with flour. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites.

In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and butter until very light and fluffy, at least a couple minutes. Beat in the cherry extract and cherry juice. Add in third of the flour mixture, beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the egg-milk mixture, then another third of the flour, beating until each addition is incorporated. Beat in the rest of the milk mixture and then the remaining flour. Beat the mixture for 2 minutes. Fold in the chopped cherries, then divide the mixture between the two pans.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. My cakes took an exceptional amount of time, 40-45 minutes for 6-inch cakes! Now, I do use the Wilton baking strips, which are wrapped around each pan and help the cake to rise levelly (is that a word?), rather than having that dome on the top. They're actually quite brilliant, but I do find that they cause the cake to take a little longer to bake. Anyways, I would take a look at maybe 30-35 minutes and see how it's going, and go from there. Once they're done, transfer the pans to a cooling rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and release the cakes from the pans. Cool completely on the cooling racks.

For instructions on how to make a classic Italian Meringue Buttercream (IMB), see this post. I had to make a double batch, and of course instead of using strawberry puree, add in 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. If you don't want it to be colored at all, use clear extract as opposed to natural.

Also, I have a great piece of information!! In the past I've struggled with coloring the IMB, and upon researching why, I found out that the food coloring has nothing to adhere to, because the icing is basically fat (only sugar and butter and egg whites). So unlike American buttercreams that use icing sugar, some gel food coloring will just sit on the surface. However, I found one post that stated that unfortunately Wilton food gels do not mix in well at all (my experience), and rather brands like Americolor work wonders. This was fantastic because I had just purchased a large bottle of red Americolor gel, which worked out perfectly on the icing. I would highly recommend buying Americolor gels if you're hoping to color IMB or Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing. Yay!

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