Sunday, March 7, 2010

"Wedding" Cake

The top secret project is no longer a secret! My parents celebrated 50 years of married bliss on Thursday, March 4.

We (their 8 children and our ever-patient spouses) threw a bit of a party for them. I was in charge of the cake (naturally). We wanted to have something like a wedding cake. As I've disclaimed before, I am not a professional baker, not by a long shot. I lack the tools, the space, and the know-how to make a real wedding cake (although I'd certainly like to try my hand at that someday). So, I decided to make a 3-layer 8 inch cake, almost like the top layer of a wedding cake, as well as enough cupcakes to feed all the guests at the party.

It was an undertaking fueled by wine and kindly assisted by my sister, Yoga Girl.

The original plan was to use fondant for the 8 inch cake, stamp a diamond shape into the sides and put gold dragees in the corners where the stamped diamonds meet. I made my own fondant using this recipe, and it was much easier than I thought. Evidence:

But I got gunshy about working with fondant (which I have only a passing familiarity with) for a project/event like this one. Another project for another time. Instead, I decided to use regular buttercream. As I've also mentioned before, my piping skills are lackluster, but luckily, I had made more than enough of these chocolate hearts (in white, milk, and dark--intended to top the cupcakes) and decided to use the white ones to decorate the 8 inch cake.

The Quilter had sneakily stolen my parents' original cake topper and I did a little repair work so we could use it on this cake.

Isn't it sweet?!

I used the Whiteout Cake and Cinnamon Buttercream recipes (minus the cinnamon) from BAKED and a basic chocolate creme filling recipe from Fannie Farmer to fill the 8-inch layers.

I've used the BAKED Buttercream recipe (in various versions) at least 4 or 5 times and each time it worked out perfectly, so I was very surprised and more than a little dismayed when the batch that I was using for the 8-inch cake broke and became curdled-looking. It still tasted delicious and the texture when we ate it was perfect, it didn't feel curdled in our mouths. But, needless to say, it didn't look as lovely as I'd hoped. Perfect buttercream on the left, notsomuch on the right:

I don't know that anyone other than those of us intimately involved with the cake really noticed. But I have to admit, if I hadn't been under a time crunch I probably would have had a good sob session. A 50th Anniversary cake is not the one where you want your Buttercream to fail. I asked the BAKED boys what could have gone wrong (I love Facebook!) and they said that usually is the result of overbeating. Which I didn't feel like I had done. So, here's my theory: with the first batch, I let the butter sit out from the beginning of the process to get soft (but still cool). With subsequent batches, I waited until I was partway through the recipe to take the butter out of the fridge, out of concern that it would get too soft. I think what happened was that it was not soft enough, and so had to be beaten for longer to get it to be completely integrated.

Ultimately, I think the entire presentation turned out to be very pretty. And it tasted good, which is what honestly matters the most to me.

The happy couple now:

TGIP Rating--Whiteout Cake--The cake part is definitely a KEEPER. The best white cake I've ever tasted. Moist and delicious. I'll have to try the recipe as a whole, complete with White Chocolate Buttercream, another time.
--Buttercream--I still contend that it's the perfect buttercream. I just need to test my theory so I know what to do to make it perfect EVERY time.
--Chocolate Creme Filling--Also a KEEPER. It was surprisingly delicious.

Next up: I'm going to try to make these cupcakes into a regular 8-inch cake. Just for kicks. And because the Priestess is laid up with a brand new hip replacement. And also (obviously) for St. Patrick's Day.


Pat Catherall said...

It was delicious and fabulous looking - and so picturesque in the corner! Wouldn't have known of any glitches had you not mentioned. I am sure glad #2 son remembered where the cake topper has been squirreled away for 50 years with its bits of frosting from the original cake - haha!. The whole evening unfolded one grand surprise after another...I'll never quite get over it. I love you!

Annie Laurie said...

What a delightful way to celebrate your parents' Golden Anniversary. It was such a treat to read this and see the photos (loved Yoga Girl!), though I think I gained a couple of pounds just reading it. Thanks for the memories!


Elizabeth said...

I for one am glad that you decided to pass up the emotional meltdown Thursday afternoon because it REALLY turned out beautifully. And tasted wonderful! Sure, we could've paid a professional, but it meant more coming from you! I'm sure Mom feels the same!

Bill said...

I finally got to EAT a TGIP project and it was delicious. The cake was gone when I got to it but I had a fill of cup cakes.

Summer said...

It was fabulous!! I really liked the white cake too! Not dry and bland like most other homemade white cakes and not yucky like the cake mixes. Thanks so much for doing the cake!!
So, could you secretly send me the recipe? Pretty please with a cherry on top?