This weekend was my neighbor’s birthday. Her husband asked me to bake her a decadent chocolate cake and decorate it with “Spring Flowers.” Here in MN it isn’t exactly bursting with flora yet. In fact, as I was working on the cake it started to snow. But Easter is right around the corner and the tulips and rhubarb are promising to come out of the ground soon. We hold our breath and hope for a greener time, soon. Her cake, like Kathy herself, had to be over the top and fantastic! I wanted it to be bright and full of life to compensate for the snow!
Happy Birthday Kathy!
Last week I was in such a rush to get my Daring Baker Challenge done in time that I forgot to give away another Le Creuset Stoneware Heart Ramekin with Cover, Red. This week I will give away 2 to make up for it. Just leave me a note below and tell me what you are making for Passover*, Easter** or whatever you are craving now that it is spring. I will pick 2 random winners next week.
You will need:
One recipe Devil’s Food. I baked the layers in 2 9×3-inch cake pans for 45 minutes.
One recipe of Pastry Cream, plus 6 ounces milk chocolate, melted. After the pastry cream has boiled for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and gently whisk in the melted chocolate, cover and cool.
One recipe Bittersweet Ganache
White Chocolate Buttercream by Rose Levy Beranbaum from the The Cake Bible:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but should still be able to pick up the stick without it losing its shape.
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
5 large egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup rum (optional)
6 ounces white chocolate, melted and cool to room temperature.
To make the buttercream:
In a small heavy sauce pan heat together the 3/4 cup sugar and water, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Turn the heat to low.
In your stand mixer beat the egg whites with the whip attachment, on low speed until they are foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat on med/high speed until they reach soft peaks. Reduce speed and gradually add the 1/4 cup of sugar and beat until stiff peaks. Reduce speed to low.
Attach a candy thermometer to your pot and bring the sugar syrup to a boil, remove when the thermometer reads 248 degrees. Slowly pour the sugar into the egg whites, along the bowl’s edge, being careful not to hit the whip or it will splatter.
Increase the speed and allow the whites to whip until glossy and room temperature, about 2 minutes. Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, until all incorporated. It may go through a stage when it looks soupy, but it will come together when the last bit of butter is added and it has whipped for a minute or so.
Slowly add the rum in small amounts, whip after each addition. Then add the cooled melted chocolate and whip gently until incorporated.
To assemble the cake:
I split the cake into 3 layers and spread each layer with a coating of the ganache. In order to keep the pastry cream from oozing out of the cake I created a dam around the edge of the cake with the buttercream, (you could also use stiff ganache to do this), using a large plain tip in a pastry bag.
Fill the center with the pastry cream.
I create a crumb coat with just a thin layer of the buttercream to lock in the crumbs.
Once you have a thin layer on, refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes so that the butter hardens. When you do your final layer of buttercream you won’t have to worry about getting dark crumbs on the outside of your cake.
Start with a large blob of buttercream on the top.
Spread it out, so that it is flat and just slightly beyond the edge of the cake. This will insure that you get a perfectly square top to your cake.
Now your want to cover the sides. Don’t worry about getting it smooth until the whole thing is covered in a nice thick layer of the buttercream.
Now you want to smooth out the sides. This can only be done well with a Turntable and a long Spatula. hold the spatula straight up and down at a 20 degree angle from the cake. Turn the cake turn table and slowly smooth out the cake. once the sides are smooth then you will do the top. Again at a 20 degree angle you will smooth the top, starting from the outside. be sure not to sweep all the way across the cake, just to the middle. Continue all the way around until it is nice and smooth.
To create the ferns you will need to color your buttercream with food Color and fill several pastry bags witht eh different colors. I recommend using the Disposable Pastry Bags when using this many colors. It took me about as long to clean mine out as it did to build the cake! Use a pastry bag and a #2 Plain Pastry Tip to create the center lines. Then use a Leaf #67 Decorating Tip to create the leaves. Start larger at the bottom and get smaller as you go up.
Create your gum paste flowers
Assemble the cake!
*If you need some inspiration you should check out what Ariela at Baking and Books has put together with my recipes for Passover worthy ladyfingers. Or my Chocolate Caramel Matzo, Coconut “Haystack” Macaroons, Marzipan Cherries or Fruit Jellies!
Don’t forget to leave a note to win Le Creuset Stoneware Heart Ramekin with Cover, Red!