Finally! Here it is!
Is it everything you dreamed and more? Well it is for me. I don’t think this cake could have come out more perfect. I’m in love. I can’t stop staring at it. Plus, it was delicious! And there are several happy party goers who are likely to back that statement up.
I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve wanted to make a cake like this my entire life. Layers and filling and frosting and piping and curly cue cursive writing. It’s all there. Simple in design, but rather elaborate in execution, this cake was perfect for a birthday celebration. It looks just like the cakes I’ve been doodling on the edges of notebook paper for years.
The components of the cake are all from varying sources, but the cake as a whole came right out of my imagination. I started with a basic buttercream for the filling (there go the first SIX sticks of butter…) and added fresh pureed raspberries. Voila! Raspberry buttercream! Apparently pink doesn’t show up very well on camera, because this frosting was the palest, prettiest shade of pink I’ve ever seen. The photos don’t even do it justice — it looks like the same color as Viggo’s river of slime in Ghostbusters II.
I certainly got a bit carried away layering the raspberry buttercream between the dense slabs of cake. I had a LOT of buttercream to work with and I tried to fit it all into the cake. That might not have been the best idea, as it made the structure as a whole a little off kilter and slightly unstable. But once it sat in the fridge for a little while, it was good to go. I sliced the two cakes in half and trimmed the tops to create the four separate layers of cake. I needed a place to put all that buttercream, after all.
A note on the cake itself — it’s chocolate insanity! The devil himself may have been involved in the creation of this Devil’s Food Cake, because it was positively sinful. The batter was so light and fluffy, it looked like frosting. And there was so much of it! Doesn’t that Kitchen-Aid beater look like it’s dressed as a soft pretzel? I thought the bowl of the mixer was going to over flow. And when I began to fill the pans I was honestly worried that the cakes would explode in the oven. Fortunately, they baked up perfectly and the dense texture made them easy to slice and shape when it came time for filling and icing.
Speaking of icing…
Once the layers were filled and stack, the plan was to thoroughly encase them in dark chocolate frosting. No morsel of chocolate was safe in my kitchen because this frosting called for several additions of the stuff. Melted bittersweet chocolate mingles with a bubbly mixture of cocoa powder and hot water, which has turned into a bit of a chocolatey paste. These chocolate concoctions slowly turn the mass of, you guessed it, BUTTER and powdered sugar into a satiny, rich spread. It was a little loose, so I made a bit more room in the fridge to firm it up while cooling it down. I have a very patient roommate who doesn’t mind too much when I dominate the fridge with a massive cake carrier and giant bowls of frosting.
Now, for your viewing pleasure, I give you my very first crumb coat!
Ah, the crumb coat. Such a fancy, sneaky way to perfect a cake’s look. I always found the crumb coat a bit daunting. You have to frost the cake TWICE? Interesting. This initial, thin layer of frosting serves to lock in any stray crumbs that might rear their ugly, crumby heads when the final layer is spread. Since this was a chocolate cake with chocolate icing, the crumbs probably wouldn’t have stood out as much, but I’m glad I took the extra step nonetheless.
After much finagling, a lot of icing, and some added help from the turn table I got from my favorite place in the world, NY Cake & Bake, the cake was completely frosted. The swirl on top came out quite nicely, even though I was inclined to keep messing with it. Fortunately Jenny stepped in and convinced me to quit while I was ahead. With the help of two trusty spatulas I was able to transfer the iced cake from the turntable to the cake stand with minimal damage.
And then it was time to pipe my little heart out…
The last of my butter stock went into whipping up this Fluffy Vanilla Frosting for the decorative embellishments. I tinted half of it petal pink and saved the other half in its pure white originality. Another new toy aided me in my piping mania — a frosting applicator that bears a strong resemblance to Austin Powers’ penis enlarger…I swear baby, it’s not mine!
The pale pink and bright white offset the dark, richness of the chocolate perfectly! And the piped dots provide the perfect disguise for any imperfections in the edges of frosting. Honestly, I’ve never enjoyed myself more than when I was piping the decorations on this cake. If only I could spend my days decorating cakes! Although, it would be nice to not have to spend a small fortune on butter every time I have the urge to frost a cake.
The finishing touches…
What’s a birthday cake without a birthday message? And in this case, it had to be the classic, loopy cursive that has adorned so many birthday treats over the years. I had never piped a single letter in my entire life, and there wasn’t much time to practice. Although there was certainly enough extra frosting! We ended up buying an emergency load of Teddy Grahams just so we’d have something with which to scoop up all the extra frosting (thanks to my friend Nicole for that brilliant idea). I took one last look at the perfectly smooth swirl on top of the cake, held my breath, and began to pipe. I have pretty good handwriting, but you never really know how that translates when frosting is your ink. Fortunately, it came out rather well. I only had one shot and probably would have had a melt down had I needed to scrape a typo off the cake. The only snag was the placement — if only I’d had the option to click the ‘centered’ adjustment button. But a little creativity and an extra photo made the un-centered placement a blessing in disguise.
One last way to celebrate Halllie (and remedy the off center writing)…
Stick her picture in the cake! Duh. I thought about piping flowers to offset the message, but I’d never done that before either and it seemed like excess. Raspberries were considered as well, but they just seemed out of place. Then Jenny had the brilliant idea to use one of the photos of Hallie as a cake topper, and the rest was history.
And there you have it. My little masterpiece. I feel like it was more of a gift to myself than a gift to Hallie, but she enjoyed it just the same. I’m already brainstorming new ideas for another confectionery triumph.