Saturday, 7 January 2012

Fading Chocolate Layer Cake For A Very Sweet Sixteenth

Happy January everybody!

How are you liking 2012 so far? I hope it's treating you well. Me? Oh, well I am currently loving this year because four days ago I SAW THE FLEET FOXES AT THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE! Oh, how glorious they were. They are my absolute favourite band, and they exceeded all my expectations entirely. It was like they were heavenly beings sent down to earth to sing for us wee human beings.

Here you can find a link to a video of one of my favourite songs of the night, Blue Ridge Mountains. This video was from 2008, so Robin Pecknold's hair was a lot shaggier than it was the other night, but the performance was just as beautiful as this one, and even better because of the amazing acoustics in the opera house.
So I'm still kind of on a high from that concert. It was just the best thing ever!
Ok Angela, stop and breathe. Whew.

Anyway, onto some of my other favourite things! Birthdays, cakes, baking, yay! Yesterday I had the privelige of baking a cake for my sister Lizzie's birthday party - she's turning sixteen! Gasp! She's going for her L's and gah she'll be able to drive and how did this happen? Ahh, they grow up so fast.
She had a really cute picnic thing up in the Hunter Valley, and I got to bake!
She loves chocolate (and hey, who doesn't?), so I decided to jump on this food blog fad of making "fading" layer cakes. People also do those ones where they make each layer a colour of the rainbow, so when you cut into the cake, a dazzling spectrum of colours peeps out at you! So instead of doing the colours using mountains of food colouring, I decided to attempt to make a cake where dark chocolate faded into creamy vanilla. The layers worked really well, and were really defined - they went down a treat at the party. I also used my brand new piping set that I got for Christmas to pipe on the vanilla bean buttercream on the outside.
This was my first attempt to make a full-on massive layer cake with smooth icing, so I am pretty damn proud of myself! It took the whole day and I was absolutely covered with sticky sugary substances, but it was so worth it! It's not perfect, but I love it!
Also, I had heard of crumb coating before, so I gave it a shot, and found that it was totally necessary to catch any naughty crumbs that wanted to be stuck in the outside layer of icing! I still got some stuck in there, the little fiends, but my buttercream was vanilla bean, so the crumbs just look like little vanilla seeds! Yay, I'm so sneaky!
{Here's the recipe - inspired by the Purple Sprinkles Ombre Cake that Steph from Raspberri Cupcakes made, except with chocolate! Initial chocolate cake recipe adapted from 'Chocolate Magic' by Kate Shirazi, basic buttercream from Raspberri Cupcakes.}
Fading Chocolate Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Makes one hell of a birthday cake - 5 layers, serves about 20.

For the cakes:
450g unsalted butter, softened
900g caster sugar
3 tsp vanilla essence
6 large eggs
450ml milk
10 tbsp sour cream
400g self-raising flour
6.5 tbsp cocoa powder
250g dark chocolate
100g unsalted butter, extra

For the icing:
900g icing sugar
450g unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp vanilla bean paste, or the seeds from 2 vanilla bean pods

Milk/Dark chocolate freckles
Royal icing - 1 large egg white, 1 cup icing sugar, food colouring


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease and line however many uniform cake tins you possess (20cm  diameter would be ideal).
In a large moxing bowl, beat butter, sugar and vanilla together until thick, pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Add the milk and sour cream and beat well (it may look curdled, but don't worry, that's what it's meant to do). Sift both flours over the mixture , and fold until combined.
Divide the mixture into 5 separate bowls. In one bowl, sift in 3 tbsp of the cocoa, in the next, 2 tbsp, in the next, 1 tbsp, in the next, 1/2 tbsp, and leave one plain vanilla. Now, in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, melt the butter and chocolate until smooth and glossy. To the darkest cake batter, add about 1/2 of the melted chocolate, and to the second darkest, 2/3 of the chocolate that remains in your bowl. To the third darkest, add the remaining chocolate. The mixtures should have a defined gradient of shading. Bake 2 (or however many cake tins you have) of the mixtures in the oven for 45 min, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cover the rest of the mixtures with cling wrap. Once the first batch is cooked and transfered to a wire rack to cool completely, repeat with the other batters until all are baked and COMPLETELY cooled. With a breadknife, trim the tops of the cakes so they are flat and level.
To make the buttercream, sift the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl, and add the softened butter. Mix with an electric whisk until fluffy and light. Add both the vanilla substances and mix well.
Stack the cakes on top of each other, darkest first, and in between each layer, spread a thin layer of buttercream, spreading almost to the edges.
Once all the cakes are stacked, crumb coat the cake - using a spatula, thinly coat the whole outside of the cake so you can still see the crumbs. See how they get caught in the icing? Refrigerate for 15 min.
Once refrigerated, spread a thicker layer of buttercream evenly over the cake. I used a spatula which I intermittently dipped in warm water, and ran vertically up the cake. Place freckles around the base of the cake.
To make the royal icing - whisk eggwhite until slightly frothy, then sift in enough icing sugar to make a stiff, yet pliable paste. Colour as desired, and, using a piping bag, pipe whatever the hell you want onto your cake!

1 comment:

  1. what a stunning cake! i'm not a baker, but something like this is on my cooking bucket list .