For the Love of Fondant Asparagus (and 8-Layer Cakes)

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

Well, hello! Please forgive the fact that it’s been 10 days since my last post–I would have shared one sooner, but I swear I’ve been dyeing, rolling, snipping, and dusting fondant asparagus since the last post. If you’ve never seen the earlier version of this cake, then I’m excited to share it’s craziness (and deliciousness) with you for the first time; if you have and you’re wondering why in the world I’ve made it again, well, I couldn’t resist.

The thing is, I’m usually partial to much traditionally prettier, and much less hyper-realistic novelty cakes, but under the circumstances of the first Asparagus Cake, it just made perfect sense to attempt a fondant asparagus wrapped layer cake. After the first time, I somehow fell in love with it’s quirky beauty and unexpected appearance. You can read all about the creation of my first version here (which happened to be one of my very first blog posts!), but I’ll quickly explain that I first made it back in October, for Grant’s gorgeous sister, Mary. She had eaten heaps of asparagus for months, while rigorously training for a fitness competition. I recall a text she sent me a few days before her show, expressing her disgust with eating even one more asparagus, and when I had asked her what she wanted for her first post-show meal,  she said “anything but asparagus!” She also requested that we have any kind of chocolate cake with Swiss meringue buttercream for dessert. At first I started planning a pink, ruffly cake, and then with no warning, it came to me in the middle of the night: whatever it took, I had to conceal her rich chocolate cake and buttercream with a bunch of asparagus made from fondant.

I began working on it the very next morning, and didn’t stop until it looked as realistic as possible. She loved it and the proverbial “icing on the cake” was that she came in first place! Ever since that time, I’ve been eager to create and photograph this cake again, and I thought it would be fun to kick it up a notch this time by building an 8-layer chocolate cake inside, as opposed to the traditional 3-layer version I did originally. Asparagus or not, slicing and serving an 8-layer cake just feels right.

Asparagus via Sweetapolita

Just as I did the first time, I referred to a real bunch (above) of asparagus for inspiration, but, it’s funny — even though they’re green and, well, all vegetable-ish, I see such beauty in them, particularly raw and full of purple highlights. Creating them out of fondant and petal dust is actually very similar to creating hundreds of sugar flowers — each one unique and full of organic details and personality.

Sweetapolita

Little Neve was a trooper through this project, and I’m pretty sure she spent the duration of the week trying to figure out what I was doing. She sat with me in the daytime while I made hundreds of fondant asparagus tips and stalks . . .

Sweetapolita

I’ll give her another year of freedom, but then she’ll be ready for some official fondant-asparagus-training.

Sweetapolita

For now,  just being adorable, making me laugh, and keeping me sane while I dye, roll, cut, snip, and dust for days, will do perfectly fine.

In the works . . . can you believe I actually find building this cake therapeutic?

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

After a few days, it’s done! I was dying to slice into this because I knew the 8-layer chocolate cake factor was going to make it even crazier looking . . .

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

And I’m always up for some crazy! Ooh, dramatic desserts will always have my heart. Always. Most of the time when I make chocolate layer cakes, I use my standby Rich Chocolate Cake recipe, which is a one-bowl, moist, dark cake. A few weeks ago for the Inside-Out Neapolitan Cake, I did a southern version of Devil’s Food Cake including butter, mayonnaise, and buttermilk; it was unbelievable! This week, I thought it would be fun to try another Devil’s Food Cake recipe (typically richer than the one-bowl cake and made butter-cake style by creaming sugar, adding wet and dry ingredients separately, etc), so I played around with a more traditional version that didn’t include mayonnaise.

I baked three 8-inch round pans and then sliced each one into 2 for this cake. You may be asking yourself how I get an 8-layer cake with a total of 6 layers, but the truth is I had a layer of chocolate cake I needed to use up, and so I sliced it in two and popped it on top to create 8-layers sandwiched between vanilla swiss meringue buttercream (I should add that I added about 20% less butter this batch, and it was gorgeous; don’t be afraid to play around with your ratios.). I can’t stress enough how quickly you can create a wow-factor by slicing a regular 3-layer cake into a total of 6 layers — it only takes a few extra moments, and it changes the complete dynamic of the cake! It could even be a classic vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream or filling, and once you start stacking layer upon layer, it offers a touch of drama.

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

Well, the good news for you is that I’ll spare you the step-by-step tutorial on how to make an Asparagus Cake, because I have a feeling that I’m the only one silly enough to spend days making a layer cake so unusual, but I’d love to share this variation of the Devil’s Food Cake I baked for this cake. Its texture is a bit lighter than the southern Devil’s Food Layer Cake, but it’s a gorgeous classic version and divine in its own right.

NEW! How to Make a Fondant Asparagus Cake {a Tutorial}

Happy Mother’s Day!

Dark Devil’s Food Cake            {click here for printable recipe}

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pans

3/4 cup Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark

1/2 cup boiling water

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter three 8″ x 2″ round cake pans, line with parchment rounds, and dust with flour, tapping out the excess. Add boiling water to sifted cocoa powder in medium bowl and whisk; set aside to cool.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, 3 to 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Sift the flour and baking soda into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting and whisk together. Whisk buttermilk into cocoa mixture. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into butter mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, or finish by hand gently.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan to ensure even layers.  Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake for about 35 minutes, rotating once after 20 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes barely clean. Try not to over-bake. I tend to under-bake a few moments, so the skewer is a little bit gummy. This works well for a moist chocolate cake (not vanilla). Let pans cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Moist Devil’s Food Cake

For Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe, visit the previous post Swiss Meringue Buttercream Demystified

You may also find this previous post helpful 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes

The Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder (my all-time favourite) is what makes this chocolate cake taste so incredible. You can find it by clicking here: Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark

Good luck & enjoy!

Love, Rosie xo

Signature

Signature
Share the Sweetness!

Comments

  1. says

    I have always been in awe of your talent. But, this takes it to a new level. I work with fondant often and this makes my fav cake (Running With Tweezers food stylist cake) look like an etch a sketch version. Love this!!!

  2. Judy says

    This is such a gorgeous fun cake! I wouldn’t mind if you did ever want to do a tutorial for fondant asparagus – I think you may be the first in the world to produce such a beautiful and quirky design. It’s just pure genius. It takes ‘eating vegetables’ to a whole new plane. I’m amazed and in awe.
    Love your work. And Baby Neve is a doll!

  3. says

    It’s the first time I see your blog and I really love it. Oh that’s an amazing cake!! Asparagus look soooo real! Brava! Greetings from Italy

  4. says

    I totally 100% believe you that making this was therapeutic! It looks like so much fun! I loved it before and I love it now. You’re amazing :)

  5. says

    I absolutely LOVE this cake. I’ve made an asaragus cake but only made the asparagus out of sugar cookies. Didn’t look this fantastic. You are a true artis. Love, love, love it!

  6. says

    This is amazing. AMAZING!! I can see and feel your heart seeping through each of your confectionery creations — I love how your cakes look, but I really love how they make people feel :). xo

  7. says

    One Word! OMG!!

    Inspired by your cakes, I baked (for the first time) a 4 layer Sillyville cake for my son’s 7th last weekend and I was exhausted, happy but exhausted. So I understand your elation, but hats off honey .. I don’t know how you do it! :-)

  8. says

    OH WOW that is amazing! You got me at 8 layers of delicious chocolate. I really thought the asparagus were real, they look so real! And your baby is just adorable. She’ll be a great helper soon :D

  9. says

    wow! This is totally amazing! Even though its not really asparagus, we’d love to have you link up to our Seasonal Potluck! http://bit.ly/eLlgG2 May is asparagus month! I think this post would be a really cute addition. Truly amazing! Great work :)

  10. says

    Absolutely dramatic and I absolutely love it, but I’m having a hard time deciding whether I like the pictures of the cake or your precious little one better! She is adorable! Beautiful job on both. ;)

    I do have a question, slightly off topic, but you brought up that your sister was in training and ate ridiculous amounts of asparagus. I am also in training and have never heard this before… what was her reasoning?

    • says

      Thanks, Gina! Mary explained that, from a training perspective, asparagus is a natural diuretic and detoxifier for the body. It definitely worked for her! She was in unbelievable form, and of course won her competition! Good luck!

  11. says

    Rosie, this is THE most beautiful, creative, impressive, humorous cake EVER. Please, please, please show us how to do it! I too an neurotic enough to sit for hours and do that kind of stuff. Don’t deprive me!! You’re amazing. Xoxo.

  12. says

    Haha…I love the story behind the original cake! I definitely thought it was real asaparagus the first time I saw it. The 8 layers look amazing too, but I feel that the layers would split in half whenever I’d pick them up to layer them…how do you prevent this from happening? They are so thin, but come together gorgeously! Truly an AMAZING cake. Worth every minute spent on those fondant asparagus =)

  13. Vivian Ruble says

    This cake is an amazing work of art! Truly one of the most gorgeous cakes I have ever seen! The only thing prettier is that daughter of yours, who is stunning! I am sure your sister really appreciated your hard work and the tasty, unique results. You should be very proud!!

  14. says

    I’m not a huge fondant fan so I almost skimmed right through this post, until I saw the 8 layers of chocolate cake inside. OMG that is fantastic. I love doing tall triple layer cakes but I’ve never really though about cutting them all in half to get that wow factor. WOW. Definitely gonna try it!

  15. says

    When I saw this in my flickr feed again I had just assumed it was the same cake you posted last time, but I had to click on the pictures again. This cake is seriously one of the most beautiful & impressive cakes I’ve ever seen. I just can’t stop looking at how impressive & realistic it looks. I can’t believe you made a 2nd one! Love it! Now if only my fondant skills were as good as yours!

  16. says

    This is nothing less than remarkable; when I first saw your tweet I thought fondant/asparagus? But as often happens, ‘had to look’ won over and so glad it did.

    Your assistant must surely help; such an amazing sweet face.

  17. says

    I just fell in love with your blog all over again! I mean let’s face it you are a pure artist! You exude creativity. I loved this cake the first time around – and now with all those layers? You are a superstar my friend! ♥- K

  18. Hailey says

    I’m definitely on the “wanting a tutorial” bandwagon. Asparagus cake is such a brilliant and fun idea. Time consuming, sure. But stunning!

  19. says

    You know, this is what drew me to you begin with girl!! I kept coming back to the post just transfixed by the sheer beauty and intricacy of this divine Asparagus cake you magically created!! I was completely hooked with a single post!

    If I could clone you & have that version live with us so we can enjoy delightful confections all the time, I soooooo would!! I’d be the envy of all my friends! Sadly…since I CAN”T actually clone you (lucky for you), I’ll have to do with just obsessing of your posts :)

    Adore you my friend!! You are the REAL deal and I wish you all the continued success in the world!! xoxo

  20. says

    This is really impressive! I wish I could do that time and endurance wise – I don’t know how long I would have lasted making the asparagus sticks. YOu are amazingly talented! Thanks for sharing!

  21. Paulette says

    This is an amazing cake! I wouldn’t mind a tutorial on the asparagus. My FIL is a farmer, and every summer we always have asparagus coming out of our ears. It would be great to make this cake for him!

  22. says

    This is the most extraordinary thing I have ever seen. You are a master of your craft. Your photos are extraoridnary and I’ve never seen bigger eyes on a little person!

  23. Debie Wilson says

    Little Neve is just so precious!! I adore her little face. You must have so much patience to make these so realistic. GREAT JOB.

  24. says

    This cake is amazing! It’s my first time visiting your blog, and I’m absolutely amazed by all of your cakes -will definately be coming back!! (and your daughter’s adorable, btw!)

  25. Nichole says

    Unbelievable!!! I see your stuff of Foodgawker from time to time and love what you do, but this cake is, WOW!!!

  26. says

    This cake is STUNNING. You are so talented and I admire your creativity, not you mention the work you put into making so much fondant asparagus!

  27. Amy says

    Amazing. I am so happy to have found your beautiful blog. It is such an inspiration. Could you let me know where your cake stand is from that you used in these pictures? Thank you. I can’t wait to see what you post next! xoxox

  28. Tara says

    That’s gorgeous!! YOU SHOULD MAKE A VERSION MODELING WHITE ASPARAGUS! What a novelty wedding cake idea…

  29. says

    Oh Wow!! You completely had me fooled with those sugar asparagus spears (which made my mouth water when I first saw them), but now that I know they were concealing such a lovely cake, my mouth is watering even more!

  30. says

    I had to do a double take when I came across this on Tastespotting. Truly amazing—and makes me want to devour the asparagus spears in my fridge right now!

  31. says

    I just discovered you via Twitter – what an incredible cake! I’ve always admired the sculptural qualities of asparagus but never for one minute considered paying homage to them in fondant. I can’t wait to discover the rest of your blog. I just know I’m going to love it!

  32. says

    Your asparagus cake was the post that led me to your beautiful blog. I never tire of looking at how pretty it is. I admire your patience and of course, your talent in being able to create something like this. It’s amazing!

  33. says

    You, my dear, are deliciously insane! And I LOOOOOOOOOVE it!

    Asparagus has always been my favorite vegetable, but you have catapulted it to a whole new level entirely!

    Bravo.

  34. says

    You did such an amazing job the first time on this totally unique cake and yet again, you have blown it out of the water. If you never told anyone it was fondant, no one would believe until they ate it that it was not asparagus. Your patience in making each of them stems and tips is truly admirable as is your outstanding and unparalled talent.

  35. Michelle Anderson says

    I absolutely LOVE this! It is the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen! When I showed my husband he asked if having all that asparagus around the cake made it taste funny, and his eyes went wide when I told him it was fondant.

    Could you post or send a step-by-step tutorial to me? I am a student in nutrition and love to eat healthy and to splurge every once in a while on a dessert. I would appreciate it so much if you could give me more details on how to replicate the asparagus. Even if you’re not able to-I will try to make this regardless!

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful creations and creativity!

  36. says

    This cake is amazing! I hope you don’t mind that I put a photo of it on my blog, of course with your credit and I directed any readers here to look at more photos. It is just mind blowingly good.

  37. Tracey says

    This cake is astounding. I am a new visitor to your site and I love it!!! My husband is encouraging me to make this cake but I said I there is no way I could do it. If I had a tutorial, I would definitely try it! As well, I made your rainbow cake with your recipe for a Mother’s Day Cake but instead of the rainbow colours I made the cakes 6 different shades of pink. The outside was decorated with cherry blossoms. It was a hit! Thanks so much for inspiring me.

  38. Shannon Hunter says

    Whoa! I saw this on Cake Wrecks’ Sunday Sweets feature today, and let me just say that that cake is AMAZING! I’m totally going to make this for my mom as a joke for her birthday someday.

  39. says

    This is making me so HAPPY! Just yesterday I said to my husband that I wish I could somehow incorporate asparagus into the rhubarb and strawberry cake I had made, because then it would contain all my favourite spring foods. And you’ve just gone and done it! In a way. :o) This cake looks amazing!

  40. Heidi says

    Found you through Cake Wrecks and I am in awe! Asparagus….my favorite vegetable. Chocolate…my favorite treat. Who would have EVER thought of these two together. PLEASE do a tutorial, I would love to try one of these!

  41. Natalie G. says

    Followed the link from Sunday Sweets on CakeWrecks… it made my day to see 2 of my favorite things (asparagus and chocolate) in one mash-up! :) Your creations are amazing, as is your little girl. Thanks for making the world a much prettier, and tastier, place!

  42. Joanie says

    Came via Sunday Sweets at CakeWrecks. Love asparagus, but wow. I’d buy a tutorial! Bookmarking you!

  43. Sandra says

    Oh my god! Unbelievably, I got an order for an asparagus cake and did some research on the internet, but could not believe that there was anyone in the world who made ​​such in the past. And then I found your blog. Wow it is amazing! I can never do anything like that. Love it! Thanks for the inspiration!

  44. Maree Ecrevan says

    Rosie,
    I don’t know you. I found you through Steph Dlugon. I just have to say, your asparagus cake takes the cake. I didn’t believe it was really fondant until I saw it sliced revealing those lushous layers. Amazing!

  45. Melissa says

    I found your blog through Cake Wrecks…absolutely amazing! I love baking, but I’m nowhere near patient enough to attempt anything as fabulous as this cake. I’m definitely going to try this cake recipe though, because in my opinion, you can NEVER have too much chocolate cake.

    And also, your little girl is just gorgeous :)

  46. Amanda says

    I, too, just found your blog through Cake Wrecks. This cake is… WOW. I am incredibly impressed. Such creativity!!!

  47. says

    I don’t see this as a cake wreck at all! It’s pretty darn cool! Not to mention the work it must taken to make that asparagus! I love it!

  48. says

    I ran across this cake on flickr and had to see it again here. I love the contrast of all the layers with the vibrant green asparagus – this makes my short list of fav. cakes! BTW great blog.

  49. Mandi says

    Is there *any* way that you will do a tutorial on how to make the asparagus? My dad and I are training for a big bike ride and he has been eating suuuuper healthy/low carb to lose a lot of weight. Asparagus is one of his staple foods he’s been eating and I would LOVE to make him a cake like this for after our ride in July.
    Your cakes are gorgeous. Thank you for sharing!

  50. says

    OH. MY. GOSH!!!!!! I L O V E this cake more than any cake I have ever seen in my life! You must have the patience of a saint. Thanks for sharing your incredible work!

  51. says

    all i can say is WOW!!!!…how much would you charge for a cake like this?..and do you ship?.i know it was very time consuming and therapeutic as you stated :0)..Please let me know!

  52. says

    I just found your blog, and I’m completely in awe. This cake is SO AMAZING! I made my hubby come over and see it because I was so impressed.

  53. says

    Rosie, this is a masterpiece. Beautiful work.

    Having made a fair number of fondant flowers, myself, I need to ask — did you use store bought fondant or did you make your own? In either case, how did you make sure it was “wet” enough to not dry out and crack, but dry enough so that everything stood up straight? Striking that balance is always my biggest problem. I tend to err on the side of making things too dry, but its bad when you have dark-colored fondant…the cracks really show up. Many thanks!

  54. Francesca says

    I know there are numerous comments on here already but this cake definitely deserves another. It’s fantastic. You are so talented and creative. This really is a work of art – the time and effort you put in is inspirational. If only I could create something even half as amazing.

  55. Marian says

    Congratulations for having your cake in Readers Digest!! My mom saw it and wants me to make one for her. It would never turn out as terrific as yours!

  56. Matthew says

    wow is all i can say, i came here as i was browsing through Gizmodo, and saw a story on your cake. sounds like something that would keep my little brother away or maybe a good prank. you are a very creative person, and i must say an absolute artist. an artists whose art tastes good, sounds like a great deal

  57. says

    Oh my gosh. My boyfriend sent me this link this morning and I’m so happy he did! This is so amazing and your daughter is so beautiful! I don’t think you need to apologize for not posting for 10 days. Looks like this cake more than makes up for it.

  58. Lisa says

    Please tell me you make a living making/decorating cakes…because you would be a millionaire with your talent. I wish I had your patience.

  59. Jess says

    This is amazing. I want to make this cake for my mother in law for her birthday as she is a vegetarian and lives for asparagus! I was wondering if you could give me any pointers on the asparagus tips? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Adore your site by the way!

  60. Amber Flynn says

    OMG you are so talented! I wish I had your mad skills!!! This is so freakin adorable, when I first looked at it I thought “well that would be disgusting” LOL! I thought you had candied asparagus they are so real looking. :D

  61. Chelsea Chase says

    I am in deep, deep love with this cake. I love asparagus, and–like most human beings, have an unhealthy relationship with chocolate cake. I’m really trying to get back to a healthy weight and lifestyle this year–it feels like the first time in a long time that this goal is realistic, and I would LOVE to have this cake in celebration. Maybe for my birthday in September? Whatever form the celebration takes, it would be great to have a tutorial or something in order to make something like this happen. Your excellence in execution and artistic prowess, though, are going to be tremendously difficult to match.

  62. Alexander James says

    Wow, that’s like wrapping some fire up in a case of water. That will keep children away from the cake for sure.

  63. Sarah R says

    WOW! I just came across your website and found this. It is absolutely amazing! I could totally see a version of this cake for a small, outdoor garden themed wedding. Great work!

  64. Karlie says

    So sad about no step by step for the asparagus fondant, I would definitely be crazy enough to make something like this! Do you make your fondant or buy it?

  65. Sally says

    Hi Rosie,
    I came across your blog a couple of day’s ago whilst off work with a chest infection. Feeling sorry for myself, I took to my laptop to source new ideas for my cake baking passion. My life has now changed…Wow, what an inspiration you are! I have spent several hours over the last 3 days being totally inspired by both your baking and fabulous photography. And then I come across this…what can I say..I am from the Vale of Evesham in the UK where we are known as the Kings of Aspagragus. Locals call it Grass and we have a local pub called the Round Of Grass after our most famous local produce. We have an Asparagus festival and I am sure this creation would make a fabulous centrepiece and talking point! Well done! P.S. I am just about to make your Strawberry Layer Cake with Strawberry Icing. Thanks for the inspiration! xx

  66. Hannah-lyz says

    This may be one of the most amazing cakes I’ve seen! I showed it to my boyfriend, and he seemed unimpressed …” It’s just a bunch of asparagus!” .. I scroll down “…wait… It’s a CAKE?!”
    Congratulations on fooling my bf! And on making such an astounding cake! x

  67. Amanda says

    I just tried my first fondant cake, not going well, AT ALL.
    Your cake is so beautiful. I just wanted to let you know that
    aspargus also grows purple and cream color (I have the purple in my
    garden) so if you have an opportunity to make a cake for Mary again….
    and we all want to see pictures.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>