22 November 2011

cake trials

It really is quite an honor to be asked to make a wedding cake. It's also a lot of pressure, test baking, math (who knew there was so much math in baking?), and butter. But the fact that couples—even more surprising, my brothers—trust me to make the wedding cake for their receptions is pretty remarkable. Thanks, boys. And thank you, also, to your agreeable brides. We all know brides get final veto power.

I made some new discoveries in this round of test baking, and I thought I'd share with you. 

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  • I first tried Smitten Kitchen Deb's vanilla buttermilk cake. I had high expectations, and it is delicious, but it's a butter pound cake. Not wedding cake-y enough.
  • Next I tried this cake forum favorite, the WASC. White Almond Sour Cream cake. I used the first recipe listed, which has vanilla instead of almond flavoring. So I guess mine is really a WVSC. But holy cake mix, this recipe is wonderful. It's a doctored cake mix, so it's easy, and it uses no butter or oil. The kids and I were fighting over the trimmings. It honestly doesn't even need frosting.
But of course, a wedding cake needs frosting.

  • I tried my standard powdered sugar butter cream, via Gale Gand. I did this mostly for comparison, since it's what I'm used to making. This frosting is super sweet, and very temperature-sensitive. Not a good thing for a wedding cake, but great for immediate use.
  • I attempted Swiss meringue butter cream for the first time. I used the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, with additional help from the fabulous photo tutorial on Whisk Kid. This one tastes amazing, but I had my mixer going for 30 minutes! And even then—I think due to some steam from the nearby dishwasher—it separated and the texture was bad. Swiss meringue butter cream has a definite learning curve, and seems a little risky for me.
  • Just for fun, I tried this “magic” flour and cornstarch based frosting. When I first heard about this on Pinterest, I was very intrigued, but a little put off. Flour? In frosting?? Well, let me tell you, the texture of this frosting is absolutely incredible. It is fluffy, not too sweet, and holds up perfectly all day long at room temperature. Now, to me, it does have a little flour/cornstarch/filmy after taste. But it was the winner, chosen by the bride- and groom-to-be and other cake testers. (Many of whom didn't notice an after taste.)
This past week, I played with the “flour frosting,” as I now call it. I added 50% more sugar to see if I could make it a little sweeter and get rid of the after taste. It worked—the after taste was barely noticeable—but the frosting was less stable. So I'll probably stick with the original recipe for the wedding cake.

I also tried adding some Ghirardelli's Ground Chocolate (sweetened cocoa powder). Not as chocolatey as I would like a chocolate frosting to be, but nice. Sweetpea said it tasted like hot chocolate, so I'm calling it “hot chocolate frosting,” and tucking that idea away for later.

When putting the cakes together, I used Whisk Kid Kaitlin's excellent tutorials for assembly and frosting technique. I am so impressed with her. She is definitely more together than I was at her age.

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This concludes my cake report.
Any questions?

I have some for you:

Do you have any other delicious yet stable frosting recipes I should test before the wedding?

Is there a good way to thicken seedless raspberry jam to get a taller filling layer?

Have you entered the calendar giveaway yet??
Today is the last day!


Cathy said...

Wowzers! That's a lot more work than I've ever put into a wedding cake. You're amazing. Here's the chocolate frosting recipe I used this weekend for a birthday cake. I'm not a frosting girl. I usually scrape it off. I must say I was eating this by the spoonful. It's so yummy. I used Hershey's special dark cocoa instead of regular. That might have been the difference.

Cathy said...

Oops. Here it is.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Next time I get married...haha! I will call you :D

Have you tried any gluten free cakes?

Marisa said...

Yum! Thanks Cathy!

Ashleigh—I have made several gluten-free cakes, but only from mixes. I like Gluten Free Pantry and Betty Crocker GF mixes. You can click my "gluten-free" category (on the right) to find some GF cake recipes.

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