Eggless Rainbow Cake

People who don’t eat eggs still have birthdays to celebrate and in no way should their birthday cakes be any less rich or flavored just for an egg. No, I am not undermining eggs, because I bake with them throughout the year. All I am saying is that baking without them is not a big deal.IMG_20170807_180736
Each basic ingredient (other than sugar) in baking has a specific scientific role. Butter and yolk of egg provide fats and emulsifying properties, flour provides structure, egg white are the natural leavening agents and baking powder and baking soda too are IMG_20170806_162145leavening agents and latter does some balancing act too when you are using something acidic like cocoa powder. If you look at it, you can substitute anything as long as you are not fiddling with the science of baking (which is majorly chemistry).IMG_20170807_181046
Every time I need to bake without eggs, I search hard for promising recipes. This time I was directed to go either the condensed milk route or to completely vegan cakes route. While I have trod the former last time, I didn’t want to go on an uphill route the latter offered since there were no other dietary restrictions. But still I took the vegan cake route and tweaked it a little to get the best eggless vanilla cake.
So, here is the eggless vanilla cake recipe with its chemistry all balanced and that will amaze you with its fluff and flavor. Whether dietary restrictions or lack of eggs, if you want to/have to bake a vanilla cake without eggs, this is your best bet!

Eggless Vanilla Cake:
(Yields one 8 inch round cake; or 2 8 inch sheet cakes. I divided the batter in two pans to get two sheet cakes so that I didn’t have to slice the layers before filling)

• 1 cup full fat milk + 2 tbsp white vinegar
• 110 grams unsalted butter, softened
• scant 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp salt

Bake the cake:
• Preheat oven to 176 °C and grease and line an 8 inches round cake pan.
• Mix milk and vinegar in a cup and let set to curdle.
• Add softened butter to a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer. Then add sugar and vanilla and beat until combined and fluffy – about 2 minutes.
• Sift dry ingredients together and keep aside.
• Mix in the creamed butter sugar mixture alternating with the curdled milk. Blend until well incorporated and no large lumps remain. Mix in colors if using.
• Pour the batter into the pan. Don’t fill the pan more than 3/4th full.
• Bake on a center rack for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The cake will have a very, very slight golden brown color.
• Let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Rich vanilla buttercream:
200 grams unsalted butter
2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
4 cups of icing sugar
3-4 tablespoons of fresh cream

• Sift the icing sugar and reserve. It is always good to use fresh icing sugar.
• Whip the butter till it is light and fluffy, for about 2-3 minute
• Start adding the icing sugar in small batches and keep whipping till it is incorporated. Add essence and whip well once again.
• Start adding the cream, one table spoon at a time, and whip it well before adding further. Once the desired consistency is reached, whip well for a minute or two before frosting the cake.

Assemble:

Get VIBGYOR sequence right with violet at the bottom. Infuse each layer with sugar syrup before slathering with buttercream. Repeat and stack the layers. Do a thin crumb coat with the frosting and decorate as desired.

 

 

 

 

Fondant Cake: Chocolate Cake

I AM NOT a fan of fondant. But, then many others are and I think that is because they don’t know what it is like to work with fondant in a coastal city where temperature never touches below 35 degree C. But that’s beyond the point. The point is that some people DO like fondant and when I was requested to create a car themed fondant cake for a boy’s first birthday party, this is what I could do. The children went bonkers over the cars and cheerfully gobbled the fondant figurines in no time, like they always do. And that’s precisely the reason I agree to do fondant cake time and again even though I assert it every time, I am not a fan of fondant.

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Chocolate Rum Cake

Let us just say hello with the same fervor though we are meeting after more than two months. Let’s not talk about the long absence because it’s such a drag. Instead, let’s talk about a refreshingly moist and rich cake which would raise your spirits in the scorching heat of Indian summer and which is oh-so-needed. A friend in need is a friend indeed. IMG_20170530_170201_HDR_1496296813526

My quest for a “more” scrumptious chocolate cake is never ending. The chocolate cakes I have blogged about are all winners. But whenever there is an occasion for a chocolate cake, I mostly never go back to my own repertoire. It is strange but true. I search for recipes offering something new, a new ingredient, a different way to mix, or a new method to bake or make a cake without baking (other than cheesecakes ). I call it greed.

Coming to this cake, it looks a simpleton, but wins applause much before melting in mouth. Slicing the cake evokes as many ooohs and aaaahs that you can actually take a two minute break to let the hysteria subside, only to brace yourself for more to come.

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The recipe calls for molten chocolate which we have done before, but without any buttermilk, which we have not. To turn things heady it also calls for a deadly decoction of rum and hot coffee which we alternate with flour as we mix the batter. How sexy is that! The batter is quite thin but firms up almost mousse like upon baking and cooling. Since the cake was for my favorite birthday of the year, I drenched it in some more rum before covering it in rum flavored ganache. The seconds were expected but the thirds sent the cake to the blog 🙂

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Chocolate Rum Cake:
Yields one 8 inches round cake

70 grams dark chocolate (I used 62% Cocoa)
1 Cup All purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
A pinch of salt
8 gram espresso coffee powder
½ Cup boiling water
½ cup dark rum
113 grams butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Cup sugar
2 medium eggs
A few tablespoons dark rum

Rum infused chocolate ganache:
200 grams good quality chocolate
180 grams low fat cream
1 tablespoon rum

Bake the Cake:
• Pre heat the oven to 165 °C
• Grease an 8 inches round cake pan and dust with all purpose flour
• Chop the dark chocolate into small chunks and melt in a bain marie without letting the vessel touch the boiling water. Cool and keep aside
• Mix all purpose flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl and keep aside.
• Dissolve coffee in boiling water and cool it. Add ½ cup rum to it and keep aside.
• In a large bowl, beat Butter till creamy. Add sugar and beat till light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla extract and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time and beat for a minute after each addition scraping the base of the bowl.
• Mix in molten and cooled chocolate and mix well.
• Add flour mixture and coffee-rum mix alternately, staring and ending with the liquid.
• Mix the batter well and pour into the pan.
• Bake for about 40 minutes or till tester comes out moist but clean.

Make the ganache:
• Chop the chocolate finely in a medium bowl.
• Heat cream in a heat proof bowl over medium heat just till bubbles appear on the edges.
• Pour the heated cream over the chocolate and cover it to sit for about 5 minutes.
• Add in rum and mix the ganache till its smooth.
• Pour over the cooled cake.

The Rainbow Cake

If none exists there already, this one would be the strongest contender to become Murphy’s law of baking:

“Soon after you place your batter filled pan inside the oven, there will be a power cut specially  if you don’t have a power back up and/or are baking after a long time and/or are doing so for some special occassion.”

And  for some reason it happens with me at an annoying frequency..

Like it happened last Saturday when we, a bunch of four baking enthusiasts, were about to bake Carrot Apple muffins and Chocolate Almond muffins (which we still managed to since we have generous neighbors with a power-back up). And sorry, no muffin pics because they were too delicious to last till the first click. No exaggeration.

But I do have a pic of something that began as a humble goal but soon turned into an highly ambitious affair with multiple power cuts amidst the baking spree. And no, I don’t trouble my neighbors for projects like these.

4 The cake was for my daughter’s seventh birthday and we had a rainbow themed party. She didn’t take long to realize that the only way this cake could be done under the given circumstances was with resilience and a ready plan B, just in case. She learnt an important lesson on her 7th. The cake was just incidental. 3

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The Rainbow Cake:

7 Layers of  this wonder with batter for each one colored with these . The cakes were filled and frosted with 8 times amount of this fluffy buttercream  (you will be left with extra)

Decorate as you desire!

Buche de Noel with Salted Caramel Ganache

For years, every December, I dreamt of baking Buche de Noel as “The Cake” for the last week of festivities but always ended up baking our scrumptious traditional cake. However, this year I told myself that it would either be Buche or Nothing for Christmas. Since a cake-less Christmas is no-Christmas, and I didn’t want to wait for another 365 days to dive deep in the revelry, it was more of an ultimatum to yours truly than anyone else. And as self-flogging works sometimes, this Christmas Buche de Noel finally saw light of the day (or Star of David) in my kitchen.

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Buche de Noel or Yule Log is the cake traditionally  eaten during Christmas and New Year in France. I was very fascinated by the whole concept till I read that it was nothing but a jelly roll decorated like a log and that was a dampener. Who eats a simpleton like jelly roll on a festival like Christmas! But as I soon found out, Buche is as simple (or sophisticated) as you care it to be, and I started searching for all kinds of fillings ranging from mincemeat to eggnog and what not. I eventually settled for the salted caramel ganache, and it proved that my decision making was still intact despite the air heavy with all kind of good liquors.

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Baking this log had an emotional string too since the sister is settled in France now. My heart aches for her on most of the days, especially during festivities. As I whipped the chocolate genoise sponge, filled and frosted it, I imagined being in the same festival bubble with her (which she burst by cooking famous Indian sweet “Gulab Jamuns” instead to mark the occasion and her French family and friends loved them!)

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Food brings people together, bridges the distance and nurtures bonds. It also pushes you to tread unknown territories and surprises you in most amazing ways. I hope it does the same to you in 2017! Bonne Anne and Bon Appetite!

Buche de Noel
(Adapted minimally from here)
Baking a genoise based Buche de Noel comes with a few words of caution which must be paid heed to. The trickiest part is to roll the genoise, which should be done when it is still hot. Make sure to dust the kitchen towel heavily with the icing sugar before you turn the genoise on it, else it will stick to the cake. Though my log didn’t suffer any cracks, but I read that in case yours does, fret not, as they can be easily covered up in the frosting.

Ingredients

Chocolate Genoise:
• 6 egg yolks
• 1/2 cup white sugar
• 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 6 egg whites
• 1/4 cup white sugar
• 1/3  cup melted blueberry jam (for filling the cake during assembly)

Salted Caramel Ganache:
• 75 grams dark chocolate
• 75 grams milk chocolate
• 100 gram sugar
• 200 ml low fat cream
• 2 tablespoon butter
• Generous pinch of fine salt like Fleur de Sel

• Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Line a 10×15 inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper.
• In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until thick and pale, about 9 minutes. Blend in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and salt.
• In large glass bowl, using clean beaters, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, and beat until whites form stiff peaks. Immediately fold the yolk mixture into the whites. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
• Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched.
• Dust a clean dishtowel with confectioners’ sugar. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and turn the warm cake out onto the towel. Remove and discard parchment paper. Starting at the short edge of the cake, roll the cake up with the towel. Cool for 30 minutes.

For salted caramel ganache:
• Break both chocolates in a medium bowl
• Place sugar in a heavy bottom pan and heat over low-medium heat swirling intermittently till sugar turns to caramel.
• Carefully add cream to the caramel as it will splatter a lot and keep mixing till it turns to a homogenous mixture.
• Place a sieve over the broken chocolate and pour caramel mixture through the sieve.
• Add the butter and salt and mix gently till you get a smooth and shiny mixture.

Assembling the Buche:
• Unroll the cake, and spread the jam filling to within 1 inch of the edge. Top with the salted caramel ganache.
• Roll the cake up with the filling inside. Place seam side down onto a serving plate, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
• Pour the remaining ganache and refrigerate the cake for another 30 minutes.
• Make bark pattern using a fork, sprinkle some icing sugar to resemble snow and decorate with marzipan or meringue mushrooms. I cheated and did with fondant, but kids loved them the same.

 

White Chocolate Freezer Cake with a Sticky Brownie Base

I am a stickler for cake baking books. Of course there are books to be grabbed with closed eyes when they are written by Rose Levy Beranbaum or Dorie Greenspan or David Lebovitz. And there are books without any author names on cover and are compilations of a few cake recipes from many sources.  I buy a few of those too keeping my fingers crossed. The reason my baking spree is negligible  when compared to my buying spree is the number of recipes which vie to be tried first until I do “inky-pinky-ponky” and choose one. And last time, this one won.wp_20161206_15_54_02_pro-2Meet White Chocolate Freezer Cake with Sticky Brownie Base. This recipe is from one such book, titled “desserts” from “Easy everyday” series I bought more than four years ago. The cake was love at first sight and the title sounds so sophisticated but surprisingly is quite easy to bake. In fact here, its the fridge and oven that do all the job. But of course you need not tell this as you smile when the cake grabs eyeballs and people complement you on your “hard-work”wp_20161206_15_57_26_pro-2This double delight combines sticky brownie with home made ice cream topping and can be (read: should be) made ahead. The ice-cream topping as per the book should be as thick as the cake but I adjusted the amount for our liking and topped with a thinner ice-cream layer and it was heavenly. You may use any brownie recipe of your choice and pour this home-made ice-cream mixture on top and leave to set. I have tried different nuts for the brownie base but you may throw in whatever you have on hand including roasted peanuts. Customize this cake your way. Either way you are going to love it!wp_20161206_15_56_43_pro-2wp_20161206_16_05_04_pro-2

White Chocolate Freezer Cake with a Sticky Brownie Base
(Adapted from this book)

Yields one 8 inches cake

For the brownie Base
50 g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing the cake tin.
75 g Castor sugar
40 g dark Muscovado sugar
50 g Plain chocolate
2 teaspoons Golden syrup (I used honey)
75 g chopped walnuts (or any nuts of your choice)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
25 g Plain flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
1- 8 inch springform cake tin

For the White Chocolate ice-cream topping
300 g Good quality white Chocolate
300 ml Double Cream (I used one with 25% fat)
400 g Vanilla Custard

To decorate
Cocoa Powder and 50g melted Plain Chocolate

Brownie base:
• Preheat the oven to 180 °C and lightly grease the cake tin.
• In a thick bottom pan set over a low heat mix together the dark chocolate, butter, sugar and golden syrup till it is homogeneously melted.
• Remove from the heat and stir in the walnuts or nuts of choice and leave to cool.
• In a bowl whisk the egg with the vanilla extract and add to the cooled chocolate mixture.
• Sift in the flour and the baking powder and stir to combine the mixture.
• Pour into the cake tin and bake for 15-20 minutes until the outside is crisp and the cake has begun to shrink from the side of the tin but the center is still soft.
• Leave to cool.

White chocolate ice-cream topping
• Break up the white chocolate and place in a bowl over simmering water. Mix gently till the chocolate melts. Take off the heat.
• In another bowl whip the cream until it holds shape. Mix in the vanilla custard and then slowly add the melted chocolate.
• Pour over the cooled brownie base and tilt around to level the topping.
• If you wish to decorate, drop small blobs of melted chocolate and draw a cocktail stick through to make the teardrop shape
• Freeze for a minimum 4 hours or until firm.
• Take it out of the freezer 1/2 hour before you want to serve it but keep refrigerated.
• Dust with Cocoa powder just before you serve it.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Relax. I am taking it easy here. You are welcome to join if you are interested or curious or both. I feel that since I have Swedish Visiting Cake ready here, you would be.wp_20161130_14_25_56_pro-2Yes, this is the season of chocolate filled Yule logs and rum soaked cakes, of grandest cookies and gingerbread houses. And that is the reason you need this cake in December even more. I know it is kind of hard to just feed the cakes with rum and not pinching that tiny bit, or building that gingerbread house to perfection while drooling all the while. So, I say, if you have this cake ready, you wont mind not pinching your fruits cake or gingerbread house. In the month of December, this cake is your savior. Really.wp_20161130_14_33_02_pro-2I have baked this cake many times. Its one of the easiest cakes from one of my most treasured cake book. One without any leavening agent, this cake rather sets than baking , filling your house with the most delicious smell of almonds and vanilla. Bake it for yourself, friends or visitors, its a winner all the way!wp_20161130_14_30_46_pro

Swedish Visiting Cake

1 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling on top)
Grated zest of one lemon
2 eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup flour
1 stick melted butter, cooled
¼ cup sliced almonds (blanched or not)

• In a medium bowl, add the lemon zest to the sugar. Rub the zest and sugar in between your fingers to release the oils, the sugar will become lemon scented.
• Whisk in the eggs one at a time.
• Whisk in the salt and the extracts.
• Change to a spatula and stir in the flour.
• Fold in the butter.
• Stir until combined. Dorie baked hers in an 9-inch cast iron skillet. I don’t have one so I used a regular 9-inch pie pan with removable bottom. You may also bake in an 8 inch cake pan but the cake will be thin , like a sheet cake. Grease the pan.
• Pour the batter into the pan and top with the sliced almonds and a generous sprinkling of sugar.
• Bake in the oven preheated to 176 degree Celsius for 25 to 30 minutes. It will be golden and the edges will have a nice crust.
• Let the cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then take a knife and run it around the edge of the pan.
• This cake can be served warm or at room temperature. It will stay good for up to two days at room temperature or may be 3-4 days under refrigeration. But it won’t last that long. Promise

Apple Sharlotka (Russian apple cake)

A dessert reputed to be a cake-torte-pie-all-in-one needs a grand introduction but then, you should not be biased by the number of steps or the list of ingredients. And you should not be flabbergasted when you don’t find butter/oil/milk/buttermilk/cream listed under the ingredients even after scrutinizing the recipe five times. And lastly when I tell you that you can bake it ahead of time because it only gets better the next day and it just takes a dusting of icing sugar for decoration, I have an inkling that from this word onward, I am talking to myself.

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In case you chose to stay to know more, let me tell you this light and fluffy Russian sponge cake is raised on a heap of thinly sliced apples. The cake per se is mildly sweet and complemented well by the slight tartness of the apple chunks, which also ooze out the right amount of juices to moisten the cake.  The whiff of nutmeg and cinnamon in this cake is the perfect prelude to the up coming festive season. This cake is also the closest you will come to an apple pie on a weeknight sans all that hard work. And if I need one reason to bake this cake again, this would be it.

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Apple Sharlotka (The Russian Apple Cake)
(Yields one 8 or 9 inch cake)

6 large eggs, at room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ spoon nutmeg powder
¼ spoon cinnamon powder
5 large apples (I used green apples)
Powdered sugar to dust the finished cake
• Preheat the oven to 170 °C. Grease an 8 or 9 inch springform cake pan and line with the parchment sheet.
• Peel and cut the apples into small chunks. Squirt the juice of one lemon and toss apple chunks well. Arrange the apple chunks in the springform pan and keep aside.
• Using hand beater beat eggs with the sugar for about 10-12 minutes on medium-high speed till the mixture falls in thick ribbon form. Whisk in vanilla extract.
• Mix flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg powders. Mix it gently into the egg mixture in three increments using spatula without deflating the mixture too much.
• Pour the batter over the arranged apples and let the batter seep in the empty spaces. You may gently move the pan to help the batter spread faster.
• Bake in the pre heated oven for 50-60 minutes till the tester comes out clean. Cool it for about 15 minutes before releasing the cake from pan.
• Once cooled, sprinkle the confectioner’s sugar on top.

Coffee-Chocolate cake with mocha buttercream

I couldn’t help but smirk when ardent chocolate lovers proclaimed that there was nothing called “too much chocolate”. But of course that was before I started stashing all types of chocolates and cocoa in amounts no sane person would approve. But see, my point is, you never know when a great chocolate cake recipe would suddenly pop up from the pages you browse and the next moment you find yourself sprinting to the the kitchen to check whether you have enough chocolate/cocoa to bake right then. And if you are me,  you bless your stash and vow to yourself never to let it be an ounce lighter!wp_20160905_16_51_56_pro-2Coming to the types of chocolate cakes, its a cake lover’s delight to know of the variety available. This also brings forth the point that while most of the chocolate cakes may have similar recipes, it is an obscure ingredient or step that really sets an everyday chocolate cake apart from “this is the best one I have had!” kind . Be it beetroot as in that or coffee as in this one. Just wait till I tell you about ginger and wasabi, no kidding.WP_20160905_16_52_48_Pro2.jpgSo back to this cake. It is not without a reason that this cake is on “top 30 cakes” list of Bon Appetit. It is one of the best chocolate cakes I have baked. Moist, ultra dark and chocolaty with melt in your mouth consistency, it is worthy of the grandest celebrations. The original one had mocha mascarpone frosting but I didn’t have mascarpone on hand. So, I did the next best thing by frosting it with mocha buttercream and a dripping chocolate ganache. The recipe is actually for a layer cake filled with mocha mascarpone heaven but I kept it simple and baked cupcakes with the remaining batter and frosted them with buttercream alone. So if you have a reason to celebrate with a chocolate cake, look no further. You are right at the chocolate cake perfection. wp_20160905_16_13_37_pro-22wp_20160905_16_12_28_pro2wp_20160905_16_48_35_pro2Did I tell you that these days a filled piping bag fitted with a nozzle is my girl’s new drawing tool? Together we have fun at it and her giggles are the most beautiful reward of the whole exercise.

Coffee-Chocolate Cake
(Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2009)

2 cups cake flour
3/4th cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoon baking soda
3/4th tsp salt
3/4th cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups packed golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
4 teaspoons espresso powder dissolved in ¾ cup hot water

• Preheat the oven to 162 °C. Butter 2 8 inch baking pan and dust with flour, tapping out any excess.
• Sift 2 cups cake flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl.
• Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth.
• Add brown sugar and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.
• Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
• Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition.
• Gradually add hot espresso-water mixture, beating just until smooth.
• Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
• Cool cakes in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run small knife around sides of pans to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks and cool completely.

Mocha Buttercream frosting:
(Adapted from here)
• 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 3½ cups confectioner’s sugar
• ½ cup cocoa powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract
• 1 teaspoon espresso dissolved in 2 tablespoon hot water
• 2 tablespoons milk or light cream
• Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn the mixer off.
• Sift 3 cups confectioner’s sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl.
• Turn the mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter.
• Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, espresso and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes.
• If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.

 

 

 

The Wedding Cake

Is there a modest way to declare when you have successfully baked the first wedding cake? I don’t know one yet, but I will try..I BAKED A WEDDING CAKE!!!!!!!!

WP_20160710_16_26_12_Pro (2)-001Baking a wedding cake had been my desire for quite some time. But they are not very popular where I live. So, when my dear friend Anitha requested me to do one for her childhood friends, I didn’t know how to react! To jump with joy or be full of self-doubt as I had never done a wedding cake before. After seven seconds of solemn silence I agreed to take the plunge.

Camera360_2016_7_11_121500The bigger surprise came when I was given a free hand to do the cake, right from choosing the flavors to the decoration. Believe me, it was dilemma overload. Dwindling between vanilla and chocolate, I decided the cake to have both the flavors with a vanilla bottom tier and chocolate middle tier. As for the top tier, I chose Red Velvet Cake because here, it happens to be the current flavor of love.

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I would have loved to do “ wedding cake” chronicle like some most awesome people have done, but my schedule didn’t permit me that. (See, I decided to do the wedding cake right from scratch in two days flat. And since that was insane enough, I resisted from typing away to glory while still slathered in sugar, butter, white chocolate, dark chocolate, cocoa, colors and all that cake jazz!)

(That difference in color of the two cakes is the sunlight. The one with satin was clicked in artificial light.)

Since I do not have step-by-step tutorial, I would love to share with you what I learnt in the cake baking and assembling process. It’s a long write-up so you may skip. For those who still wish to know, shall we start with the cakes I baked and their fillings?

Base layer: Vanilla double layered cake– Each layer 12 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick.

I had at least three recipes to choose from, all with rave reviews. But when you are baking the bottom layer which is going to bear the weight of the cake for close to ten-twelve hours, you do not want to choose a sponge cake no matter how ambrosial it sounds. Instead, you want a wedding worthy cake which should have a rich taste and a firm texture. With those considerations in mind, I turned to my all-time favorite vanilla cake recipe.
Filling: Each cake was leveled, then cut into two layers. The layers were brushed with sweetened vanilla syrup and the lower layer was smeared with a layer of my current favorite white chocolate buttercream. On top of that, I added a layer of mixed berry marmalade heated with a dollop of cream before placing the other layer on top. Steps were repeated for the second cake.

Middle layer: Chocolate double layered cake: Each layer 8 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick.

I decided the middle layer to be a Chocolate cake. There is no dearth of chocolate cake recipes but not every chocolate cake is worth of making it to a wedding cake. But, this one is. Made of butter, brown sugar, cocoa powder AND melted chocolate, this is one of the best chocolate cakes I have come across and is just perfect for the middle layer of a multi-tier cake.
Filling: Each cake was leveled, then cut into two layers. The layers were brushed with sweetened vanilla syrup and the lower layer was smeared with thick silky dark chocolate version of this ganache mixed with orange compote before placing the other layer on top. Steps were repeated for the second cake.

Top layer: Double layered red velvet cake: Each layer 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick.

After all that fuss of baking a red velvet cake with nothing but beet root, it was time to soften the stand. Nothing wrong with that recipe, but no harm in increasing the repertoire either! Found this awesome recipe here which yields a cake so fluffy that it can just melt in your mouth. This now belongs to the “must bake again” cake list.
Filling: Each cake was leveled, and then cut into two layers. The layers were brushed with sweetened vanilla syrup and filled with white chocolate buttercream thinned with a dollop of cream. Chocolate chips were generously sprinkled on the filling before placing the other layer on top. Steps were repeated for the second cake.

(See that pic below? It was clicked at ungodly 2 am when a chocolate and a vanilla cake were yet to go inside my tiny oven which can bake just one at a time.)

IMG-20160707-WA0001The cakes are leveled best when they are chilled, or frozen. I freeze my cakes in triple layers of clear wrap.

Truth be told, cake baking and filling were the easiest part of the whole exercise. The real deal was to assemble the cake which weighed close to eight kgs in toto. Luckily there is abundant information available online and in books that should make you comfortable before you start turning those layers into tiers of beauty and flavor. But remember, devil is in the details, so pay close attention to every aspect of a step before embarking on it. Here is what I learnt in the process:

1. Assemble each layer separately on its own cake board which should be of same diameter as the cake. This will help you to move the cake around and during cutting and distributing the cake. The lowermost cake board should have an extra 2 inch margin that will give you enough room to lift and move the assembled cake.
2. Dowels are a must if you are doing a three tiered cake. They help to support the structure and prevent the lower layers from collapsing under the sheer weight of the layers above.
3. If an assembled cake is to be transported to the venue as in my case, then I highly recommend using a central dowel which should traverse the entire length of the cake right from the top layer to the bottom of the base layer. It will help to keep the layers in place during the ride. However, you may not need it if you are assembling the cake at the venue.
4. It helps to moisten the layers by brushing them with vanilla syrup or plain sweetened water as the cake would be in fridge for quite some time during and in between decorating steps and you do not want layers to dry up. However, adding too much syrup would make them soggy and tear prone. So be moderate.
5. If coloring the buttercream, it is always a good idea to make in a single large batch even if that leaves you with a bowl full of it at the end of the entire process. That will hurt less than dealing with a second batch of buttercream in a different shade when giving those final touches!
6. Practice the design you are going to make. Spontaneous decorating ideas can be detrimental and will give you tough time if you want to undo and restart. Do your homework about the design you wish to put on the cake and stick to the plan.
7. If planning to decorate with real flowers, make sure that you wrap the stems in aluminum foil before poking in. Also, not all flowers are suitable for placing on cakes so be careful about what you choose.
8. If decorating with satin ribbon, remember that it may get greasy on a buttercream covered cake. It is always a better idea to buy a thick grease proof double sided ribbon. If you can’t find one, use darker colors which would not show grease marks as prominently. Also, place the ribbon right before display or transportation.

These are some of the suggestions that should help your cake assembly and decoration a little easy though there would still be quite a few “I skipped a heartbeat!” moments. Some of the resources I found extremely helpful are listed below and I suggest you to explore more:

  1. http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/category/wedding-cake/
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpQ278VwwL4
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N4HTmU5F5g
  4. http://joythebaker.com/2010/06/fact-i-made-a-wedding-cake/

Also, a short list of tools and supplies I found invaluable:
• A sturdy mixer
• Aluminum cake pans
• Parchment paper
• Cake boards
• Food grade plastic wrap
• Sharp knife to slice the layers
• Cake decorating stand/Turntable
• Frosting bags & tips
• Icing spatulas

Are you still with me? Thank you for your time! Really. I would like to know you.

So wanna know how I think I fared? I am quite happy the way cake turned out. The newlyweds gave thumbs up to the cake. The taste was impeccable and I am so glad about choosing those flavors. I kept the decoration to minimum and tried floral as well as satin decoration (the final version was with the satin ribbon) but would like to get more experimental in future. Yes, baking and assembling a wedding cake is taxing but I would certainly do it again for the sheer joy of it!