The cake-making spree that was April capped off with a birthday cake for Jared. Basically, we wanted to have a big meeting, and it happened to be the day after his birthday at church, so… maybe I included a picture of the cake in the announcement for the meeting…
So, this cake! My starting point was this video, which was the very first episode of one of our favorite cake decorating shows. With a little dash of this cake. Obviously, I didn’t do the floral wreath part. That would have been really jumping the shark for this occasion. But I wanted to do the three tiers, the paneling with modeling chocolate, and something with ganache.
Making and stacking the cakes was simple enough. The standard vegan cakes that JJR uses are so easy, especially with my KitchenAid. I’ve stuck with the decidedly NON-vegan Craftsy buttercream recipe, though I would like to branch out a bit.
Stacking the cakes was easy enough. However, when it came time to panel them… that was… intense.
I ordered five lbs of chocolate melts to make modeling chocolate, and I needed all of it. I followed Liz Marek’s modeling chocolate recipe, and it seemed easy enough, until the time came to knead it. It was… difficult! For someone who uses my hands a LOT, I am not into kneading, and this stuff was tough. And there was a LOT of it! Having trouble rolling it out meant that I needed even more of it than I was supposed to. The smaller tier was straightforward enough, but rolling out a big enough piece to go around the larger tiers? That was… intense!
Ultimately I did not succeed in making a smooth covering. I had to piece the last quarter together from what bits I could, and honestly I don’t think it looks too terrible. I was hoping that the ganache would cover a multitude of sins… but then I messed that up too.
Basically, I forgot to get extra heavy cream for the ganache. So I googled if I could use half and half, since that’s what I had. Let me tell you: you cannot. It did make a something or other, and it tastes fine, but it’s very… textured. Man this cake is inspiring a lot of elipses.
My ganache may not have covered a multitude of sins, but Oreo crumbs sure did! Visually they helped make sense of the textured nature of the finished project, much more than if I had tried to put flowers on it. And oreos on the inside were delish. They didn’t get soggy or anything. Chocolate cake + chocolate buttercream = my favorite, but the smidge of oreo cream kicked it up a notch.
You might be wondering why this cake is so… columnar. Basically, the only size cake pans I have are 6″, 8″, and 9″. I figured I could make three evenly-different tiers by trimming the caramelization off the 8″ layer, and leaving the other two intact. It is even, but a little odd-looking! If I do get any orders for wedding cakes next summer (which is sort of where this is going), I’ll invest in 10″ and/or 4″ pans.
So, takeaways? (1) Modeling chocolate is not worth it. (It doesn’t even taste good. Imagine a 5 lb tootsie roll. Blegh.) Fondant is way easier! I liked the fondant; let’s do more that. (2) Don’t forget the heavy cream for the ganache. No substitutes for that. (3) DO plan cake experiments around a big party. We had lots of people, a successful meeting, and zero cake leftovers. That’s how I like it!
Happy birthday to my honey. Thanks for letting me make a cake occasion of your birthday. (If you’re wondering, on his actual birthday day I surprised him with a grasshopper pie, which is what he usually actually wants.)