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

Related posts:

Mascarpone Meringue Cake

 Mascarpone Meringue Cake via Sweetapolita

A cake without any cake — now that’s some serious fun. This has got to be the most unusual cake I’ve ever made, but, please, if you love me . . . or if you’ve ever loved me . . . or if you think you could love me, please go make this recipe. Make it; eat it; share it; or just eat it all alone in the closet and don’t tell a soul. Whatever you do — please try this. Dramatic? Well, yes, I’ve been accused of such, but a liar? Not as far as I know, so trust me on this one. Grant and my father-in-law each ate some today and both claimed that this is a new favourite, and that it’s now, brace yourself, in their top 10 desserts of all time. I have to agree with them, because it’s simply that good; strange and unique, but out-of-this-galaxy good.

Mascarpone Meringue Cake via Sweetapolita

I was yearning to try something totally different than a classic, or even not-so-classic, layer cake — I wanted to put a toe or two outside my comfort zone, and this was a great way to go. I am a meringue lover, no question, and I love it in every form: freshly whipped, piped and baked, fluffed into buttercream, piled high and browned on pretty much any pie, and well, now as cake layers. For those of you who haven’t experienced the simple delightfulness of baked meringue, it tastes sweet and light, and becomes airy, crispy, and biscuit-like, but completely and utterly melts in your mouth.

As a cake layer in this dessert, you get 3 layers of this amazing taste and texture, sandwiching the fluffiest, creamiest, and most flavourful mascarpone/whipped cream/Creme de Cacao filling, and then, oh, and then, layers of rich, dark, truffle-textured chocolate ganache swirled in between it all. How could a dessert not be decadent with 2 cups of mascarpone? If you’re not familiar with it, mascarpone is an Italian triple-cream cheese that you can buy here in Canada in small containers, usually alongside the ricotta cheese. It is quite costly, though, but it’s richness and flavour are worth the price, in my opinion (if you’ve eaten Tiramisu, you’ve likely had mascarpone.). How did this cake come to be? Well, I came across a recipe from celebrated Canadian chef, Lucy Waverman, with this combination of ingredients, but structured as a rectangular dessert with paper thin layers. It was a recipe in the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) Food & Drink magazine from Holiday 1999 — a total hidden gem for recipes. Love it. Who knew going to the liquor store could inspire so many great desserts?

Mascarpone Meringue Cake via Sweetapolita

I just couldn’t resist building it layer-cake-style. For such a quirky and almost messy looking dessert, I love how clean it serves. Sounds funny, but it brought me a tremendous amount of joy to cut into it and see how easily it slices, and then how dry it leaves the doily. That may sound odd, but these things do matter to me, particularly when serving a dessert at a dinner table full of guests. I find people pay some serious attention to the unveiling of the inside of a dessert. It’s a funny observation, but I really have noticed this, so how something serves is all part of the appeal for me.

Mascarpone Meringue Cake via Sweetapolita

“Who me?  True, I do have ganache on my chin, but no, I have no idea how it got there.”

Sweetapolita

Something tells me that this is her celebratory “Woohoo! My mama’s a baking blogger!” giggle.

I mentioned in my last post that I’m cutting out the sugar for a bit, to prepare for bikini season, and of course to stay as healthy as possible, but after taking a test bite of this cake, I literally gave up dinner so I could eat the rest of the piece. A fact that I’m not sure I’m proud of, and I know I’m no role-model, but truthfully, it was completely worth it — this cake is like nothing I’ve ever eaten. Even though it’s far from German, I find it reminiscent of the cakes we used to serve at the authentic German bakery I used to work at when I was a teenager — the bakery that I hold personally responsible for my obsession with cake.

Mascarpone Meringue Cake via Sweetapolita

I hope you fall in love with this cake too, and what a fun change for Easter dinner, flourless Passover dessert, or even just for a unique option for anytime at all.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Mascarpone Meringue Cake

Ingredients

    For the Meringue Layers:
  • 12 egg whites (360 g), room temperature
  • 2-1/2 cups (500 g) granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • For the Ganache:
  • 18 oz (510 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream
  • For the Mascarpone Cream Filling
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whipping cream (35%)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) Creme de Cacao (or other chocolate flavoured clear liqueur)
  • 2 cups (500 g) softened mascarpone cheese

Instructions

    For the Meringue Layers:
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using an 8-inch round cake pan, trace three circles onto the parchment.
  2. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and some vinegar or lemon juice, to eliminate grease. Using whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt until foamy. Add sugar, slowly, and continue beating until it reaches glossy, stiff peaks.
  3. Using a small offset palette knife, spread an even layer (apprx 1.5" thick) of meringue over your each of the circle outlines. Bake for approximately 2.5 hours, or until dry and crisp, rotating pans every 20 minutes. Then leave in turned-off oven for another 60 minutes. *Depending on humidity in your kitchen and variance in ovens, this may take quite a bit longer to bake the meringue. You want to ensure that they are dry all the way through, so as long as they are not browning, you can keep baking them. Remove from oven and leave on tray in cool, dry area, until you are ready to use. Layers will likely have expanded slightly when baked. If you can only fit 2 baking sheets in your oven at once, you can bake the third one afterwards.
  4. For the Ganache:
  5. Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat and bring just to a boil (watching very carefully).When the cream has come to a boil, swiftly remove from heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute and then whisk until smooth.
  6. Allow it to cool until thick enough to spread, but loose enough that it will spread easily. To thicken, cover and place in refrigerator. To loosen chilled ganache, you can microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring after each one, or place in double boiler for a few moments.
  7. For the Mascarpone Cream Filling:
  8. In cold stainless steel mixing bowl and using the whisk attachment, whip the whipping cream with the sugar until thick. Add Creme de Cacao and whip again until it holds its shape. Place mascarpone cheese in a medium bowl, and fold in the whipped cream mixture.
  9. Assembly of Mascarpone Meringue Cake:
  10. Place first meringue layer on doily or cake round. With a small offset palette knife, spread 1/3 of mascarpone cream filling over layer. With a clean small offset palette knife, spread 1/3 of your ganache over cream.
  11. Repeat using remaining layers, finishing with ganache.
  12. Store cake in refrigerator. Cut using a sharp, non-serrated knife in a gentle sliding motion.
  13. This cake is best eaten within 1-2 days of being made.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://sweetapolita.com/2011/04/mascarpone-meringue-cake/

[Recipe adapted from Milliennium LCBO Food & Drink Magazine Holiday 1999, by Lucy Waverman]

Good luck & enjoy!



 

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A Slice of Summer: Lavender & Lemon Cake

Lavender & Lemon Cake via Sweetapolita

A short and sweet post for you, friends. I have to admit that sometimes I’m hesitant to post some of the simpler recipes I’ve made, or posts that don’t have a ton of photos or wow-factor, but I’ve decided that even a little bit of sweetness is better than none. The truth is, I miss sharing my baking experiences when I have to go a week or so in between, so I’ve decided to share more often, even if that means some of my posts are bite-size. Trust me that there are many more towering cakes in our future together — I promise.

Cravings are funny, aren’t they? You’re going along, thinking that your usual foodie desires are being met, and then, suddenly, out of nowhere,  you get some strange and specific urge for something in particular — even if it’s the wrong season!  I find, it’s usually something I haven’t had in ages, or something I’ve never tried (and no, trust me, I’m not preggers!). I suppose that’s what makes us foodies. On Sunday, the day I made the Campfire Delight cake (which, by the way, you all showed an incredible enthusiasm for, so I want to say a big thank you!), I also made a sweet little lavender layer cake filled with homemade lemon curd and frosted with a fluffy lavender frosting. Now, it wasn’t a show-stopper, the way the Campfire Delight was meant to be, but it’s delightful and delicious, nonetheless. A little more understated, but also very summer-inspired. This cake makes me think tea parties and afternoon visits with friends.

Have you ever tried lavender-infused desserts? They can be really delicious and unique. The key, seemingly, is using the lavender in moderation, otherwise you will end up with a soapy flavour — ick. From the research I’ve done, lavender pairs best with citrus, honey, and even chocolate, to name a few. My husband is from Prince Edward County, Ontario, from which we live about an hour, and among many incredible farms, wineries, and more, there is a beautiful lavender farm. Last year I experimented with the culinary lavender they sell, and I really loved the flavour (is there anything I don’t love when it’s paired with cake?). Here is the recipe for the Lavender Cake with Lavender Frosting:

Lavender Butter Cake   (7″, 3-layer)      {click here for printable recipe}

Ingredients:

1 cup (227g, or 2 sticks or 1/2 lb) unsalted butter, unsalted

1 3/4 cups sugar

6 egg whites (or 220g liquid egg whites)

1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons dried culinary lavender

1 1/4 cup whole milk (room temperature)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method:

Add 3 tablespoons of dried culinary lavender to whole milk, cover, and refrigerate overnight (or at least several hours). Strain milk into clean bowl/glass.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and place rack in center of oven. Butter and flour three – 7″ round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and grease and flour parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add egg whites gradually, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the lemon extract, and beat until combined.

Stir vanilla into lavender milk, and with the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula. If possible, weigh your filled pans to ensure they are equal. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan gently. Once the cakes have completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the freezer for about 30 minutes, to make filling and frosting the cakes easier.

Lavender Frosting           {click here for printable recipe}

Ingredients:

1 lb butter (4 sticks or 2 cups) at room temperature

5 cups icing sugar (confectioners’ or powdered)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup whipping (35% fat) cream

1/4 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender

A few drops of lavender food colour (or equal parts blue and red)

Method:

Add 1 teaspoon of dried culinary lavender to 1/4 cup whole milk, cover, and refrigerate overnight (or at least several hours). Strain into clean bowl/glass.

In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and butter and beat on low speed for about 1 minute. Add vanilla and beat on low until well combined.  Add whipping cream, lavender milk, and food colouring (if using), and beat on med-high speed for another  minutes, until light and fluffy. Best used right away.

Enough to crumb coat and frost 7″ or 8″ cake.

Lemon Curd filling from Martha Stewart.

Tips & Tricks for Splitting Cakes:

1. Always start with a cold cake: refrigerate for about 2 hours or freeze for about 30 minutes

2. With a good quality serrated knife (I only use my favourite Mac 10 1/2″ serrated bread knife–this thing is insanely sharp), trim any doming off the top of each layer.

3. Measure the height of your layer with a ruler, then create a score line on the halfway mark all the way  around the outside of the cake.

4. Lower yourself to almost eye-level to the cake. With a gentle sawing motion, slowly move the knife gradually towards the centre of the cake, then turn cake 1/4 turn, and repeat until you have cut through the entire layer.

You may also find this past post helpful: 50 Tips to Baking Better Cakes

Happy summer-is-on-the-way!

Good luck & enjoy!

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Neapolitan 5-Layer Birthday Cake with Strawberry Frosting

5-Layer Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

Well, hello! What an exciting few days it’s been. Lots going on, and as usual, no two days have been the same. As I mentioned in my last post, I was thrilled when Ree (The Pioneer Woman) chose two of my cake photos for her Food Photo Assignment–another one of her wildly popular photo contests. It meant so much to me, considering I’m pretty new at all of this, and there were, as usual, so many amazing entries.  My blue birthday cake photo ended up winning as a finalist in the competition, so I could not be more pleased!

Coincidentally, most of what I learned about photography was from Ree. I find her photography tutorials to be particularly helpful, down-to-earth, and as always with The Pioneer Woman, charming. If you’d like to take a peek at my blue birthday cake photo and more about the results of the Pioneer Woman Photography Food Photo Assignment, you can view it here, along with the gorgeous winning photo by Jennifer Glass.

Speaking of birthday cakes, I was in a layer-cake kind of mood this week, both making and eating, of course. One of my favourite layer cakes is Neapolitan Cake: layers of rich chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla cake, layered with homemade strawberry jam. The flavours really work so well together, and I personally find it really unique and quite appealing, if not striking, once sliced. What’s interesting, is that most people know of it, and I think really enjoy it, yet I don’t see it often. I made Neapolitan cake for the first time last year for Neve’s birthday.

I had the idea to make a Neapolitan Cake based on the colour-scheme of her party, but wasn’t sure what would work for filling. I noticed Martha Stewart had done a 3-layer version using  jam as filling, which I thought was perfect. The guests seemed to really enjoy it, and I had a lot of fun making it. I love when a cake looks pretty traditional and simple on the outside, but has an unexpected appearance on the inside. No matter how many cakes I make, I’m always secretly (or not so secretly) excited and eager to slice it and see what it looks like inside–particularly when it’s a multi-flavoured cake, like this one. Such anticipation! It seems people can’t resist peeking over my shoulder with curiosity when I first slice into a cake, and this one usually earns an “oh, wow!”

 Neapolitan Layer Cake via Sweetapolita

Kind of crazy looking inside, right? I love the contrast, but most importantly (always), it is really, truly a delight to eat. I find you don’t really taste the jam filling, but it adds a great strawberry flavour and makes the cake even more moist and yummy. It tastes so very Neapolitan and, to me, very reminiscent of my childhood. I feel as though even the cake itself with its colour-combination has a retro feel to it, which I really like.

Neapolitan Layer Cake via Sweetapolita

This time, I went for a sugary pink Strawberry Frosting, for more of a fun birthday cake taste, and to carry through the strawberry flavour a bit more.  The possibilities are endless, though, as you could opt for chocolate frosting, ganache filling, Swiss meringue buttercream and fondant, and more. Visually, I think I prefer it with a nice chocolate fondant over buttercream, but really, pink is never a bad idea (or rarely, at least!), and this Strawberry Frosting is so delicious.

I used simple homemade strawberry jam between the layers, which I prefer both for taste and look with the Neapolitan Cake. It’s also very quick and easy to fill that way. If you filled it with frosting, I feel it might be a bit much, since there’s already so much going on, but that is definitely personal preference, and the cake flavours lend to vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry fillings and frostings.

If you’d like to recreate this one, here’s what I did:

1. Baked my favourite Strawberry, Vanilla, and Chocolate cake recipes for 9″ round pans. You can layer any way you like, but I chose to torte my chocolate and strawberry 9″ round cakes into 2 each, and just used one vanilla. Each of the 5 layers are about 1″ high.

2. Using a thin 9″ round cake board, I placed the first layer down, filled with jam,  and repeated until the cake was stacked. I then covered the whole cake in airtight container and placed in fridge for about an hour.

3. I made a batch of Strawberry Party Frosting, tinted it Strawberry pink, using a few drops of AmeriColor Electric Pink (I tend to use this brighter version of pink gel often, because with buttercream being a yellow tinge, it seems to cut right through the yellow, making the result a nice bright pink.). Once the cake was chilled, I frosted it, added my favourite white sprinkles, and then piped a classic birthday cake star tip border and shell border on the bottom, using a Wilton Open Star Tip #22 for both.

You can use your favourite Chocolate and Vanilla recipe, or you can use my favourites (links attached). I’ve included a recipe for Strawberry Cake, since it’s seemingly hard to find a good one. I really like this one that I found online last year and modified slightly. Keep in mind that with all of the white sugar in this Strawberry Cake recipe, the crust of the cake gets a bit more golden brown than the other flavours. This recipe makes two 9″ rounds, but I made cupcakes with the extra batter. You could divide the recipe in half.

Strawberry Cake          {click here for printable recipe}

Ingredients:

2 cups white sugar

1 (3oz) package of strawberry gelatin (JELL-O)

1 cup butter, softened

4 eggs, room temperature

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup whole milk, room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup strawberry puree made from frozen sweetened strawberries (or you could use unsweetened and add a tablespoon of white sugar)

Method:

1. Prepare two 9″ round pans (butter and flour, or parchment lined).

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and dry strawberry gelatin until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Mix vanilla and milk together. Combine and whisk dry ingredients, adding to creamed mixture and alternating with milk/vanilla until just combined. Blend in strawberry puree. Pour into prepared pans.

3. Bake in 350 F for about 25 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in pans on wire rack for 20 minutes, then inverting onto wire rack to finish cooling.

Recipe for Strawberry Cake adapted from allrecipes.com, submitted by GothicGirl.

Strawberry Party Frosting         {click here for printable recipe}

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 cups icing sugar (confectioners’)
120 ml whipping cream
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
pinch of salt
few drops of LorAnn Strawberry Flavor Oil (to taste)
few drops of AmeriColor Electric Pink Gel Color
Method: 
Beat the butter and icing sugar in an electric mixer on low with the paddle attachment for about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, water, whipping cream, salt, and strawberry oil, and whip on high speed until fluffy and smooth–about 4 minutes. Add colour and mix until well blended. If consistency is too thick, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time, then whip again for 30 seconds or so.
Makes enough to fill and frost a 3-layer (or 5-6 thin layers) 9″ cake.
For the Neapolitan Cake, you will also need chocolate and vanilla layers:

One 9″ round (sliced in 2 horizontally) Rich Chocolate Cake from Rich & Ruffled Chocolate Celebration Cake post, or click here for printable recipe.

One 9″ round Snow White Vanilla Cake (sliced in 2 horizontally) from Old-Fashioned Party Cake post, or click here for printable recipe.

I hope you love this cake as much as we do! Seeing as Grant rarely eats cake, and he’s had 3 pieces so far, I think it’s a hit!

Good luck & enjoy!

Related posts:

Rich & Ruffled Chocolate Celebration Cake

Ruffle Cake via Sweetapolita

Happy Thursday! I’ve been eager to talk chocolate cake with you, ever since my post on Classic Vanilla Butter Cake. If you read that post, you might recall that I mentioned my husband and I often debate which cake is a bigger crowd-pleaser: chocolate or vanilla. He’s a vanilla man, and although I used to be a full-on and devoted vanilla lover, my heart is now true to my all-time favourite chocolate cake recipe: Rich & Dark Chocolate Cake. It’s simply the yummiest, richest, most delicious cake recipe I have (not to mention the easiest). It pairs well with many icings and fillings, but works particularly well with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. For fellow cake decorators, you are likely all-too familiar with it, but for those who aren’t, it will likely become an important addition to your baking repertoire. It’s super-creamy, silky, satiny texture is only beat by its buttery, rich, yet not-too-sweet taste.

It also goes on so beautifully, unlike sugary frostings, and therefore gives you some beautiful and simple options when using it to decorate a cake. It’s also what’s used to coat cakes before they are covered with fondant, but it is delicious and diverse enough to be used on its own, especially for occasion and wedding cakes. That’s why I chose to do this gorgeous ruffle cake, to show you how beautiful and show-stopping Swiss Meringue Buttercream can really be. I first saw this ruffling buttercream technique on Martha Stewart, and couldn’t resist it’s frilliness, so decided to use it for this small occasion cake I made yesterday — so simple and so girly.

Speaking of girly, Reese was home while I was getting ready to make the chocolate cake, and when I called up to her room, and asked her if she wanted to help, down she came with her full ballerina-princess costume on. I swear I didn’t stage that, but it sure made for some pretty-in-pink photos of her helping bake the cake.

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First thing she did (her own idea) was start cutting parchment circles for her baking pans–this is so my child!

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When I look at this photo, besides relishing in how adorable she is, I can’t help but wonder if Grant would appreciate my baking adventures just a wee bit more if I wore this outfit each time I baked. (I can’t help but think that this photo will cause me to tear-up when she’s grown and gone.)

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Such focus! I love this retro mixing bowl and tool set I found at my favourite vintage/shabby chic style shop near our house — perfect for her little hands.

Okay, back to cake.  This chocolate cake recipe is such a simple and delicious one. I call this cake “rich & ruffled” because not only does the cake and Swiss buttercream taste rich, but it’s also a premium cake in its ingredients, although worth every single penny. As far as the cake goes, using a premium dark cocoa powder is paramount. I always use extra dark cocoa powder for this cake, and any other recipe that calls for cocoa powder. It’s a sure way to bring your chocolate baked goods to a new level of quality and decadence.

The ruffling technique itself is quite straight-forward. Once I tinted the Swiss Meringue Buttercream (I went with a retro coral colour using a combination of Sugarflair  “Peach” and Spectrum “Electric Pink” gel colours) and applied a thin layer on the filled and stacked cake, to ensure that the ruffles had something to adhere to. Placing the cake on a rotating cake stand, and with a large piping bag (I used 18″) filled will buttercream and fitted with a large petal tip (I used Wilton #123), I started at the bottom, holding the piping bag straight with tip pointing at cake board and the smaller part of the tip facing outward, and just did a back and forth motion until I reached the top of the cake then started again beside that row, and so on.

Once the cake was ruffled all around the outside, I did a circular ruffling around the top. If you’re a visual person, you may enjoy, and benefit from, watching a quick and helpful ruffling tutorial on YouTube, done by the fabulous Melody from Sweet & Saucy Shop in California. You can also read more about this technique from Martha Stewart here. My ruffled cake wasn’t perfect, but it’s pretty forgiving. Ruffles are always lovely (especially fluffy buttercream ones!).

Ruffle Cake via Sweetapolita

Here is the finished cake in its full ruffled glory. So simple and perfect for showers, birthdays, weddings, or any special gathering. Thank you, Martha and Melody!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream via Sweetapolita

Let’s take a minute to adore ruffles. Ruffles, ruffles, and more ruffles!

Ruffle Cake via Sweetapolita

Chocolate cake, anyone?

Happy Ruffling!

Rich & Ruffled Chocolate Celebration Cake

Yield: Two 8-inch round cake layers, 5 cups buttercream

Ingredients

    For the cake:
  • 1 3/4 cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (90 g) Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder - Extra Dark
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (9 g) salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (237 mL) strong, hot black coffee or espresso
  • 1 cup (237 mL) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (119 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • 5 large egg whites (150g)
  • 1-1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the cake layers:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare 2 x 9" (or 3 x 8" for slightly shorter layers) cake pans with butter and flour or parchment paper.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift all dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients to mixture and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splashguard that comes with mixer).
  3. Divide among prepared pans. Batter will be liquidy.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Cakes are done when toothpick or skewer comes clean, about 35 minutes. Try not to overbake.
  5. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
  6. For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  7. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and vinegar, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  8. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and cool. Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on medium speed, gradually add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).
  9. Add vanilla and salt and mix well.
  10. Keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, rewhipping in mixer for 5 minutes.
  11. Can freeze for up to 6-8 weeks.

Notes

*If doing the ruffly cake, you can increase the cake recipe by 50% for a 3-layer cake (or 6, if you slice each in 2) and make the buttercream x 3. It requires tons and tons of buttercream. Trust me!

**This cake is sturdy enough to be used under fondant, stacked, etc. but also moist and tasty enough too go on its own with almost any type of frosting, glaze, etc.

[Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe adapted from Martha Stewart]

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Good luck & enjoy!



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