Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ombre Bridal Shower Cake

Part III and the final edition to my Bridal Shower series! The main focus of the food spread: the cake!! You may have remembered me mentioning multiple times in previous posts the difficulties I was having with trying to narrow down what to make for a cake. I went through thinking about fondant, to a 3-tier cake, to using different icing techniques for every tier, and to using different icing bases for the different cakes.

What I decided on was a classic Vanilla cake with strawberry filling and Strawberry Italian Meringue Buttercream icing for the bottom tier, and a Chocolate Devil's food cake with Caramel/Butterscotch IMButtercream icing for the top tier. I was torn between using previous recipes I had tried out, or trying something new. I went for completely new recipes, mainly so that I could share the results with you!

Unfortunately, in my opinion, only half of that paid off the way I envisioned. The vanilla cake was dense, making it ideal for a heavy layered cake, but it was also too dry (although that might in part be my fault as I remember vaguely seeing that you should make a simple syrup to help add moisture to the cake after it was done baking, which I omitted due to time constraints... and, well being lazy). I still have yet to find a good flavourful and moist yellow cake recipe, so if anybody knows or has a recipe that they really like, I would love to hear from you! The chocolate cake turned out quite well, although it was a bit crumbly, which made icing a bit more of a challenge. It called for butter rather than oil, which is fine although my favourite chocolate cake recipe involves oil. It wasn't as moist as the recipe that calls for oil, but it had a lovely deep chocolate flavour that was perfect for the chocolate-lovers in the crowd.

The flowers were made with a gumpaste and fondant mixture, and some petal dust to coat, as the pink faded quite dramatically as it dried. A simple dollop of icing held them in place.

Because I was not overly satisfied with the results of the vanilla cake, I'm not going to write the ingredients and directions, but I will post the link. The lovely Heather Baird from Sprinkle Bakes (if you don't know of it, check it out here: Sprinkle Bakes) made a guest post on Etsy.com here. As I didn't want the bottom tier to be overly high, I thought it perfect that the recipe was set in quantities for a 8 inch pan, when I was using a 9 inch pan. However, much to my dismay (and possibly misunderstanding the instructions) the quantities given were enough for 2 layers of cake. Like 2 thin layers. Not layers that are high enough that you can tort them, like the instructions indicated. I pulled the pans out of the often and realized that they had barely risen at all, and with a great sigh I determined that I would be making a second batch of the recipe to yield the 4 layers I had originally been hoping for. For instructions on how to make the strawberry filling and IMButtercream, you can check out my post on Strawberry Cupcakes, although I would use some cornstarch in the strawberry reduction to thicken it up further. Also, I multiplied the icing quantities by 1.5 (x2 wasn't needed as the filling was used between the layers).

The chocolate cake recipe was also taken from Sprinkle Bakes, although Heather souped up that cake to something of incredible imagination. I simplified it quite a bit, and also cut the recipe down to 3/4 as it was filling 6 inch pans. I've put the quantities for a 6 inch cake in brackets.

1 oz. (3/4) fine quality unsweetened baker's chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoon (3/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (3/4) hot coffee (decaf is fine)
2 eggs
2 (1) egg yolks
1/4 (1/5) cup sour cream
1 (3/4) tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/4  cups(shy 1 3/4) flour
1 1/2 cups (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) light brown sugar, packed tight
1 teaspoon (3/4) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (1/4+1/8) salt
16 tablespoons or 2 sticks (12 tbsp or 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch (or 6-inch) cake pans with shortening and line with a circle of parchment paper. Grease paper and flour the pan; tap out excess flour and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the chocolate, cocoa and hot coffee until smooth. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, sour cream, half the chocolate mixture and vanilla until just combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt on low for 30 seconds. Add the softened butter and the remaining chocolate mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

With the mixture off between additions, add the egg mixture in two parts, starting on medium-low speed and gradually increasing to medium. Beat on medium speed for 45 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients. The batter should be fluffy. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and smooth with a spatula. Tap the pans on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. Cake is done when a toothpick comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed in the middle. Let the cakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wired rack. Let cool completely.

For instructions on the Caramel IMButtercream icing, check out my post on Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes. For the cake, I added in 1 additional egg white.

 I apologize for the poor quality of these photos; I had literally seconds to get a snapshot and it wasn't until after everybody had been served.

As you can see, my cake skills aren't perfect. The layers weren't evenly torted, but that's not the end of the world.
Also, I was unhappy with myself for this cake as there wasn't as much filling/icing as I was hoping there would be, which was especially needed with a drier cake. But, you live and learn, right?!

Also, I forgot to mention that when making a tiered-cake, it is important that you use some sort of supports to help keep the structure of the cake intact. I cut 5 wooden BBQ skewers to the height of the bottom cake, and inserted them where the top tier would be sitting. You also need to have a cardboard layer in between the cake tiers, so that there is something firm sitting on top of the skewers.

And, while she might not appreciate this, a picture of the happy bride-to-be!

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