Heavenly Chocolate Wedding Cake With Cherry Buttercream
First of all, some news. WE MOVED TO SAN FRANCISCO! We're currently unpacking and starting to eat our way through the city, so if you have recommendations on restaurants, farmer's markets, CSAs, or anything else, please let me know! So far, I think our best meal has been at Brenda's French Soul Food, although the brunch at Saha deserves an honorable mention for being SO delicious and super low key.
More on that later. In other big news, we made our first wedding cake! And it was delicious and beautiful and totally worth delaying our move for (no joke). We were pretty intimidated by this project, but with lots of love and coaching from Aunt Susan (who made our wedding cake), and a few test runs (yum), we made it through.
This was a small wedding cake (served about 50 people), but this could easily be scaled up (or down) as needed. The base was 9 inches and the top tier was 6 inches. Note that you need a 6-quart mixer or larger to make the batter all in one batch.
First, the cake base. I listed everything in volume and weight, but weight is better, if you have a good scale (we use this one).
All American Chocolate Butter Cake
Adapted from the Cake Bible (by the way, if you don't own this cookbook, and you like cake, go buy it now, seriously)
- 1 cup + 5 Tbsp (4.5 oz) Unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa
- 2 cups (16.56 oz) boiling water
- 6 large eggs (10.5 oz w/o shell)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp (10.5 oz) vanilla
- 4 3/4 cup (16.5 oz) sifted cake flour
- 3 cup (21oz) sugar
- 3 Tbsp (1.56 oz) baking powder
- 1 1/2 Tsp (.3 oz) salt
- 2 cups (15.96 oz) unsalted butter (softened)
- Heat the oven to 350 F.
- Grease two 9-inch and two 6-inch round layer cake pans and and line the bottoms with circles of cut-to-fit parchment paper or wax paper.
- Stir together the unsweetened cocoa powder and the boiling water in a small mixing bowl, mixing until ingredients are completely smooth. Cool the mixture to room temperature.
- In another mixing bowl, combine the eggs, 1/4 of the cocoa mixture and vanilla extract. Set the mixture aside.
- Combine the sifted cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients for 30 seconds with an electric mixer on low speed. Add the unsalted, softened butter and the remaining cocoa mixture. Mix the ingredients on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed with a stand mixer, or high speed for a hand mixer. Beat the mixture for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of bowl.
- Gradually add the egg mixture in three batches, beating 20 seconds after each addition.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pans. Bake cakes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes.
- Cool cakes in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto wire racks to cool completely.
Cherry Silk Meringue Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from the Cake Bible (did you buy it yet?)
This is the most complex frosting we've ever made, but it's OH so good. You'll probably have a little bit leftover, but that's ok.
Part 1: Creme Anglaise
- 1 cup (7 oz) sugar
- 10 (6.5 oz) large egg yolks
- 1 cup (8.4 oz) milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Put a sieve over a bowl near the stove. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and egg yolks
- In a small saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla to a boil. Add 1/4 cup of the milk to the yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Gradually add the remaining milk, stirring, and cook over medium-low heat. stirring constantly, until just below boiling point. The mixture will start to steam slightly and will register 170 degrees F.
- Cool the custard to room temp, cover and refrigerate up to 5 days.
Part 2 : Italian Meringue
- 2/3 cup + 4 Tbsp (6.5 oz) sugar
- 1/4 cup (2 oz) water
- 4 (4 oz) large egg whites
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- Put a heatproof glass measuring cup near the stove. In a small saucepan, combine 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup of water. Heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbling. Stop stirring and reduce heat to low.
- In your mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Gradually beat in the remaining 4 Tbsp of sugar until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.
- Increase the heat and boil the syrup until between 248 and 250 degrees F. Immediately transfer the syrup to the glass measuring cup.
- Pour a small amount of the syrup over the egg whites with the mixer off, then immediately beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Stop the mixer, add a larger amount and beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Continue with remaining syrup. Lower speed to medium and continue beating until completely cool. Can be stored for 2 days in the fridge, but will need to be rebeaten before using.
Part 3: Cherry Syrup
- 2 pounds of sweet cherries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- Wash and pit the cherries (I highly recommend this excellent cherry pitter)
- In a large pot, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute.
- Reduce heat and add berries and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and use an immersion blender (aka stick blender) to puree the mixture in the pot.
- Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve. For best results, let the syrup cool only to slightly above room temp, and then immediately mix into the buttercream (otherwise the natural pectin in the cherries will set in and make the syrup very gelatinous. This won't impact taste, but the texture is not ideal).
Part 4: Bring it all together
- 1 batch creme anglaise
- 1 batch Italian meringue
- 1 batch cherry syrup
- 4 cups (2 pounds) unsalted butter (softened)
- Place butter in mixer and beat for 30 seconds at medium speed until creamy. Gradually beat in the creme anglaise until smooth
- Add the meringue and beat until just incorporated. Beat in cherry syrup until evenly incorporated.
- Place in airtight container. If you decide to refrigerate to use later, you must first let it come up to room temp on it's own, then rebeat it.
- 12 oz chocolate, coarsely chipped/chopped
- 1 Tbsp kirsch liqueur
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Place chocolate in heatproof container
- Heat cream on stove until just boiling, remove from heat and pour over chocolate.
- Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Whisk mixture until smooth, whisk in kirsch.
- One 6-inch and one 9-inch cardboard cake rounds (like these. They don't need to be fancy, you won't see them in the end).
- 4 wooden dowels or non-bendy straws
- Pastry bag
- Offset spatula
|A little blurry, but do you see the dowels peeking out of the top?|
- Place the 9 inch cakes, one on top of the other, on the cardboard cake rounds, with a thick layer of chocolate ganache in between. To keep the cake "glued" to the cardboard, put a few dabs of buttercream on the bottom. Do the same for the 6 inch rounds.
- Frost the layers separately. I'm not a cake decorating expert by any means, but, I found the easiest technique was to pipe the frosting on with a pastry bag and then smooth it out with an offset spatula.
- Get ready to place the dowels: mark an outline on the frosted bottom tier where the next tier will go. You can use the 6 inch cake pan as the guide. Insert the dowels or straws into the bottom cake layer in a square, just inside the border of where the top layer will go. Remove the dowels/straws and cut to size so they just barely poke out about the buttercream. Put the dowels/straws back in the cake.
- Keeping the top layer on it's cardboard base, carefully put the top layer on by centering it over the dowels. The top tier should be resting wholly on the dowels, not the bottom tier. Pipe a border of buttercream at the base to hide the small gap and cardboard.
- Decorate! I used a basic frosting comb to make a pattern with lines and then flowers to decorate, but I bet you can get more creative!
|The bride and groom get messy|