Finally all of the preparation steps were done, so it was time to bake the cakes.
The Base Layer
9″ round chocolate cake with dark chocolate mocha ganache, white chocolate frosting, and rolled fondant
My chocolate cake recipe is slightly modified from this one by createdby-diane.com and is one I’ve made on several occasions. I found it the first time I used my mini filled cake pans and have made several different sizes since. (I’ll post the recipe soon.)
This recipe makes a lot of batter. I made a full batch, which ended up being two 9″ rounds (1 1/2″ deep) and ten cupcakes. Despite using my MagiCake strips, they did not rise evenly in the oven.
In between the layers I used a half recipe of my favorite chocolate ganache, adding two packets of instant coffee after the chocolate was melted.
I covered the cake with the white chocolate buttercream frosting and finished it off with homemade rolled fondant (recipe coming soon!).
I finished this layer a week in advance, wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap, and stored it in the fridge. The fondant locked the moisture in perfectly, but any longer and I would have frozen it.
The Top Tiers
White velvet butter cake with raspberry neoclassic buttercream filling and white chocolate frosting
The cake recipe was from the Cake Bible and the same one I used for the snowman. It was a little crumbly this time but somehow still quite moist.
I still had some neoclassic buttercream (Cake Bible recipe) in my freezer to which I had added some raspberry filling left over from Christmas cookies. I decided to use that as filling for the middle layer, but I didn’t trust it to hold up a year for their first anniversary, so I filled the top layer with only the white chocolate buttercream.
I packed my individually wrapped cake layers, my carefully-padded dogwood flowers, my gum paste tools, some leaf cookie cutters, a small batch of modeling chocolate, a bit of gum paste, all the cookies, and some spare white chocolate frosting into the car along with my husband and kids and all the stuff a family of four needs for a long weekend away. Somehow we all made it.
Two days before the wedding I rolled out some gum paste leaves colored with Wilton kelly green dye. I dried them on an inverted Easter egg dish to give them their shape.
To make a variety of sizes I rolled the gum paste a little thicker for some and then rolled the leaves thinner after cutting but before adding the veins. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to decorate it, so I wanted to give myself some options.
In planning this cake I did a lot of image searching online, and this cake I found on Babble.com looked closest to what I wanted. Therefore I needed twigs.
I scaled down Julia Usher’s modeling chocolate recipe to accommodate the 4 oz. chocolate bar I had (Ghirardelli 60% cacao), which translated to 3 Tbsp. corn syrup. Following a tip I read in BakeWise, I sprayed the measuring spoon with cooking spray to minimize loss from sticking.
When I was ready to roll the twigs, I kneaded the chocolate for a minute to soften it up and then played around with a few different shapes and sizes. As with the leaves, I didn’t know quite what I’d want in advance. Some of these I ended up using, some I re-molded while assembling, and some I just ate.
The Big Day
The day before the wedding (the “Big Day” in cake terms) I assembled the cake. First I unwrapped the layers and tried to smooth out any creases from the plastic wrap.
Then I inserted supports: plastic drinking straws cut to the depth of each layer. Each tier was on a cardboard round; the straws ensured that the weight of the top layers didn’t collapse the cake below.
I used a little frosting to glue the layers together. Note that I pushed the straws into the middle layer before placing it onto the base layer, to save the base a little pressure.
Not knowing how it would look, I bought 2 different thicknesses of ribbon, enough of each for all three tiers. Because the middle tier was so much taller than the other two (2″ pans rather than 1 1/2″ and 1″ for the base and top, respectively), I used the wider ribbon in the middle and the narrower on the top and bottom. Ribbon is probably the easiest way to hide fondant tears. To apply it, I cut it to length, dipped it in water, squeezed out excess water, and then wrapped it around. The sugar of the fondant made enough of a glue to keep it in place (while still allowing it to be easy to remove for cutting).
Still without an actual plan, I figured some combination of flower + leaf + twig scattered around would look nice. I added some extra powdered sugar to my white chocolate frosting to thicken it up for use as glue.
And then I started adding flowers.
And it looked great! My mom cried when she saw it. In a good way.
The Actual Big Day
Here’s the happy couple with their very relieved cake decorator. I can’t believe I pulled this off!