Archive for the 'Wedding Cake Testing' Category

Lemon, Chocolate, Champagne, Oh My!

Bria and Dave’s wedding was fantastic and fun – the perfect mix of serious, thoughtful, goofy and joyous. I was honored to bake them their wedding cake and cupcakes! In three flavors, no less! I’m sorry I don’t have the recipes right now as links but you can look them up in my blog archives.

There were three flavors of cupcakes:

1. Chocolate Raspberry (chocolate-raspberry cake with a homemade raspberry filling and chocolate cream cheese frosting)

2. Lemon Almond (gluten-free almond cake with a homemade vegan lemon curd filling and a lemon cream cheese frosting)

3. Champagne (vanilla champagne cake with a white choclate filling and fluffy champagne frosting)

We made at least 200 cupcakes (some didn’t quite make it to the wedding…oops). And they were seriously enjoyed! Just take a look at the happy couple:

Celebrate!

The birds are back! And, so am I!

I can’t believe my last post was in February! I know there are some dedicated readers and bakers out there who have checked in with my blog a zillion times a day and have missed my posts terribly (cough, cough, Gina, cough). I’ll try to bake more this school year, and even better, I’ll try to post about them. In the meantime, I’ll let you know that I went to 7 weddings this summer, and I’ve still got one more to attend in October. I’ve baked two wedding cakes (well, one was a set of cupcakes). I simply HAVE to post about these desserts, especially since I have amazing professionally taken photographs!

This cake was for my friends Rachel and Zach, who had a lovely August wedding. I used the same recipe for this cake as I did for my wedding cake last summer, except I left out the fresh ginger. It was a great fluffy yellow cake, with homemade raspberry jam and toasted slivered almonds in between the layers, and slathered with vegan cream cheese frosting. I piped a dark chocolate ganache swirl around the outside and voila! The cake was ready for the love bird toppers, and for the love bird bride and groom to cut into it! Just look at these cuties:

I’ve gone to so many weddings recently; I’ve eaten a lot of cake and cried a lot of tears (of joy). It was really nice to be a part of some of the weddings and get to bake the desserts. Tune in soon for my wedding cupcakes!

Rachel and Zach, it was a pleasure to bake your wedding cake, and celebrate you both together with so many other people who love you!

Here are some in-process pictures:

The Littlest Birds Sing The Prettiest Songs

I’ve kept you in such suspense! I’m sorry! Life has been very busy here, with traveling, moving, applying and receiving a teaching job, etc. So much is going on! But, part of the events going on were traveling to Seattle for Sasha and Robin’s beautiful wedding, which I was lucky enough to get to be a part of by making their wedding cake! Here it is, in all it’s glory:

Because you waited so patiently (and some not so patiently…hi Julie!), I’m giving you a lot of pictures. And a short run-down of the experience. In brief, it was stressful and chaotic and involved so many grocery-store trips that they caused a few break-downs. And a lot of phone calls to my mother to help explain the difference between baking in an electric oven versus a gas oven (literally NO ONE in Seattle has a gas oven. What? Why? I don’t understand). I almost lit the house on fire, no thanks to a certain firefighter that was helping me bake the cake…

But it was all worth it. The wedding was lovely; love-filled; such a warm and beautiful and community celebratory event. Everyone helped out and celebrated Sasha and Robin’s love for each other; every single toast (there were a lot) included a statement of the fact that Sasha and Robin are the best couple IN THE WORLD. I agree. That’s why it was worth it to bake their wedding cake in an oven that was not my own, and have this crazy adventure that I embarked upon. It was totally worth it.

Fluffy Ginger Cake, with Raspberry and Toasted Almond Filling, a Cream Cheese Vanilla Bean Frosting, and Chocolate Ganache piping for decoration. The winning combination for such a wonderful couple. The recipes are copied below all the pictures…

You can see Sasha in her wedding dress behind the cake:

The first thing you’ll need to make a wedding cake is lots of ingredients. LOTS. No kidding, I think we went to at least a dozen stores to find everything, which was ridiculous, because why couldn’t I just find everything at one place like I can here, at Berkeley Bowl?? Life outside of the Bay Area confuses me.

Since I doubled, tripled, quadrupled, 10-timesed the recipe, I needed a lot of ginger. We had to grate it all very finely:

Thank goodness I had help from good friends to grate all of this. And peel the ginger. Look, so much ginger peel!

My wonderful friends helped at every step of the process. Here they are, covering the cake-plate/board with black material, so that it would look fancy. It took a lot of concentration:

We very carefully sliced each cake in half horizontally. This is the biggest cake (15-inch diameter). This was the trickiest to slice and then lift the top half off, so that we could spread jam and sprinkle toasted almonds in between the layers — I was worried that if we picked up the top half, it would crumble and fall apart. So, I found a very thin large flat cookie sheet, and stuck it between the layers after I sliced them, and then simply lifted the top half off of the bottom, spread yummy fillings inside, and then pushed the top layer off of the cookie sheet and back onto the bottom…It sounds simple now, but it was a very stressful 2 minutes of the cake-decorating adventure!

Spreading jam, and carefully placing toasted almonds in the middle of the layers of the 9-inch round cake:

To decorate a 4-tiered wedding cake, you need a lot of frosting. Like the ginger, I mean A LOT of frosting. This bowl was insanely large, filled with an insane amount of frosting. Delicious, yes. Sickening, yes. Amazing, hell yes.

After frosting the cakes on top of each other, I piped thin vines, leaves, and swirls around the cake’s edges, made out of a simple chocolate ganache (recipe below).

Have you ever seen cuter cake toppers than these little paper mache birds? They were so perfect, nuzzling each other! Thank you, etsy!

The moment we’d all been waiting for! The cutting of the cake!! (The cake is the whole point of coming to the wedding, right?…).

Fluffy Ginger Cake Ingredients:

This recipe makes one 9-inch cake

1 Tblsp. apple cider vinegar
1 ½ cups plain unsweetened almond milk
2 1/8 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 1/8 cups sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. almond extract
2 Tblsp. freshly grated/zested ginger

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper. Or both, if you’re neurotic like I am. Set aside.

Stir the almond milk and apple cider vinegar together well and set aside (the mixture will curdle). Grate or zest your ginger while you wait for the curdling.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another mixing bowl whisk together the almond milk mixture, canola oil, vanilla, and almond extract. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and beat until smooth using a hand-held mixer, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the ginger at the very end, and mix to incorporate.

Fill your cake pan with the batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then when luke-warm, remove cakes from the pan and place on a wire rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Vanilla Bean Frosting Ingredients:

1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup Earth Balance shortening, room temperature
3/4 cup Tofutti Cream Cheese, room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

Beat the margarine, shortening, and cream cheese together with an electric mixer. When you have a smooth, fluffy consistency, add the vanilla bean paste and confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time. Mix until fully combined. Add more sugar if you want a thicker frosting, but be aware that it can get quite sweet quickly!

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:

1/2 pound dark chocolate
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler. When smooth, pour into a blender, and then pour in your almond milk. Blend on high for one minute, until fully incorporated. It should be quite thin, like a dark, rich chocolate milk. Pour this into a container and refrigerate for a couple of hours, or overnight. The chocolate will harden (but not completely). You’ll be able to spread it onto a cake, or pipe it in little decorations. You can fiddle around with this recipe, adding more chocolate will make the mixture more solid after refrigerating it, or more milk will make it thinner.

Wedding Cake Testing Galore

It took six cakes, seven frostings, two fillings, and several over-full tummies to make a decision. But we finally chose the cake flavor for my friends’ upcoming August wedding. I’m not going to reveal the winning combination yet, though! You’ll have to stay tuned for upcoming recipes and descriptions, and of course photographs of the completed wedding cake. I do have some photos from the tasting process for you, so you can start salivating in advance of receiving the recipes!

Here is a delightful and light Almond Cake, with Blackberry Filling, and frosted with Honey-Vanilla Buttercream Icing. The Honey-Vanilla flavor ended up being too sweet, but the almond cake is one of my favorites and was definitely in the final rundown of cake flavors and textures!

Earl Grey Cake with Blackberry Filling, with two different frostings on top. On the left, you can see the Orange Blossom Buttercream with the blue flowers surrounding the edge of the cake, and on the right with the purple bougainvillea flowers is Lemon Buttercream. We ended up liking the Lemon Buttercream on the Almond Cake…

But, we couldn’t make the most educated decision without more cakes! Since we had ended up liking different icings with different cakes than we had originally paired together, we decided to change our tasting system the second time around. I baked four different cakes and made four frostings, and we left the cakes unfrosted – everyone took a scoop of each frosting and a slice of each cake, and tried each flavor combination possible. A little bit of this, spread on a little bit of that, and tasted in one mouthful, we discovered a little bit of heaven.

Clockwise, starting at the top left corner, we made: Fluffy Yellow Cake, Toasted Almond Cake (was more like a sticky torte than what we had envisioned), the same Fluffy Yellow Cake with freshly grated ginger mixed into the batter, Cardamom Spice Cake:

Clockwise from the top left corner, I made four creamy frostings and one fresh filling:

Vanilla Bean Buttercream, Cream Cheese Icing, Raspberry Jam Filling, Freshly-Picked-Blackberry (thanks neighbors!) Buttercream Frosting, and Spicy Ginger Buttercream Frosting:

Doesn’t the blackberry frosting have the most beautiful pink color? It also had a nicely tart taste that complimented the sweet buttercream base. The ginger buttercream was also surprisingly popular, and very refreshing and delicious! We had a complex tallying system to decide what flavor combinations we liked best, but in the end, chose something different than how the stars had seemingly aligned:

Stay tuned to see the winning combination of cakes and frostings, as I will be baking the cake for an August 1st wedding. I’ll post pictures and recipes afterwords! And before that, of course, I’ll be baking more yummy treats, and will tell you about those as they appear in my kitchen.

Raspberry Blackout Cake

I had the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone (in a vegan manner, of course): A birthday cake and a wedding cake test of sorts. It was Dennis’ birthday, and so of course I was going to bake him something! I sat down with about 13 cookbooks in front of me (while watching Grey’s Anatomy…two of my favorite things, baking and medical dramas). I searched high and low for a cake that would satisfy a chocolate lover. Originally I was looking for something with nuts but this cake caught my eye – and then I remembered I’m also supposed to be wedding cake testing for my friends’ wedding to be held this summer. Their first request matched up with this cake recipe perfectly. I had to choose it, and I’m so glad I did!

I baked a three-layer birthday cake, and had extra batter that I baked into cupcake form for the taste-test. I spread raspberry jam in between the layers of the cake and then drizzled dark chocolate ganache on top of the jam, and then of course spread a thick layer of ganache over the top of the cake letting it spill down the sides. For the cupcakes, I piped raspberry jam into the center, topped the cakes with fresh raspberries, and gave my friends a container of the ganache to spread or dip their cupcakes into when they ate them – the consistency just wasn’t right to pipe on top as I had hoped it would be (however, the next day it was perfect for spreading…Just needed to be cooled completely).

This vegan cake reinterprets a classic complimentary pairing: chocolate and raspberry. Three layers of dark chocolate cake covered with chocolate ganache are balanced by the luscious summer taste of raspberries. The cake is moist and fudgy, holds together really well, and slices perfectly. It wasn’t too heavy (although it was certainly dense), and even just a few bites satisfied all chocolate-lovers involved. The consensus as I interpreted it was that this cake was delicious, a great wedding cake option, but perhaps needs to be a little lighter (not as dense and fudgy), and would be great with a white chocolate frosting on the outside – that’s what I had originally thought, and this taste-test confirmed. It is now on my list to be my next wedding cake experiment! First, to find vegan white chocolate…

Raspberry Blackout Cake Ingredients***:
Adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 (10 oz.) jar raspberry preserves (reserve 1/2 cup for the batter)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sugar
Fresh raspberries for decorating

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 8-inch round springform cake pans with cooking spray. If you don’t have springform then use parchment paper rounds on the bottom of two ordinary 8-inch round cake pans to prevent sticking.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine the rice milk, oil, 1/2 cup of the preserves, the vanilla, and the sugar in a large bowl and mix with a hand mixer or strong fork. The jam should be mostly dissolved with the rest of the ingredients; some small clumps are okay. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches and mix until everything is incorporated. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pans.

When the cakes have cooled fully, spread one layer of cake with a thin layer of the preserved raspberry preserves (give the preserves a quick mix with a strong fork to get a spreadable consistency); spread or drizzle a layer of chocolate frosting on top of the preserves. Place the other layer of cake on top and spread its top with preserves. Carefully spread the chocolate frosting over the top, then ice the sides. I like to put a circle of fresh raspberries around the circumference of the top. If you happen to have a decorating bag and tips around, you can alternate a rosebud or star flourish with a raspberry, and a few raspberries in the center will finish it off. Makes 12 servings.

***Make 1 1/2 times the recipe above if you want to make a three-layer cake as I did.

Chocolate Ganache-y Frosting Ingredients:
3/4 cup almond milk
6 Tblsp. Earth Balance margarine
10 oz semisweet chocolate chips

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the almond milk to a low boil. Add the Earth Balance and melt, turn off the heat, and stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Let sit for at least 1 hour. It should still have a pourable consistency at this point. If you want a spreadable consistency then refrigerate for an hour (If you refrigerate it for more than a few hours, it sets too much to spread easily, so you will need to reheat it, then let it sit at room temperature before using.)


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