So I made a cake.
On the outside, it’s pretty nice, though I could certainly use some more practice with my frosting techniques. (Focus on the edible hearts, please. They never get old.)
And on the inside…
It was supposed to be a heart cake, in honor of our second anniversary (17 Kislev, which is this Shabbos). I didn’t exactly nail it.
Kinda disappointing, kinda funny. And in case you were wondering whether I was a professional baker? Clearly I’m not.
But it was super complicated! I spent hours on it! I tried so hard! And for all my efforts, I got a cake with a red amoeba in the middle. Science class, anyone? You know you wish you were still there, sitting in the front row. Next to me, obviously. Because of course I would be in the front row.
Anyway, because this cake has the potential to be incredibly awesome, I’m going to show you what I did. Of course, you should probably spend a lot of time looking at the original cake on i am baker. I’m sure she’s a certified genius for figuring out how to make this.
Also — because she gives such a complete tutorial, I’m not reproducing the entire thing here. So if you actually want to attempt this insanity, read her post, too.
Start by making a white cake batter in four separate round pans, a red velvet cake in any pan you like, and a batch of white icing. You’re going to pair up the white cakes so you get two 2-layer cakes.
This was my first (and biggest) problem. Although I used the recipe proportions from i am baker, my cakes were reaaaaaaaaally low. They sort of resembled large, thick pancakes. And the problem with that is that they gave me very little room to carve (more on that soon). Note to self: Either double the batter next time or use significantly smaller pans.
Using a funny little apparatus made from two toothpicks and a piece of string, lightly scrape a circle an inch or two into the center of each cake. The goal here is just to make a guide for yourself of where to carve, so if it doesn’t come out evenly the first time — try, try again. Guess who did that?
Now designate one cake as Cake A and the other as Cake B, and don’t get them confused.
With Cake A, you’ll need to carve the middle out in a downward slope. It should form a “v” shape/cone shape, with the smallest part of the carving at the bottom, getting progressively wider as you go up. But with such a shallow base, it was kind of impossible for me to do that.
I tried…really, I did.
I hoped things would go better with Cake B. With this one, you need to dig out the center of the cake, but leave a little mountain thing in the middle. Since I had already had so much trouble with the carving, I decided to cheat a little and just carve out the entire center, then press some of the scraps back in to form the mountain.
This part didn’t go too badly, but as you already saw in the top-of-the-post photos, the top of my heart did leave something to be desired.
But now the hardest part is behind you. Fill up Cake A and Cake B with your crumbled red velvet cake (which has also been mixed with some frosting, cake pop-style.)
Now doesn’t that look attractive? No, no it does not. Keep going, it will be okay.
To assemble, put Cake B on top of Cake A. They should lie flat so nothing moves around while you frost.
Speaking of which, now it’s time to get your first coat of icing on this crazy thing. Do a crumb coat, and then let the cake set in the fridge.
Then finish icing and decorating…
And try to contain your excitement while you slice into it (cut a big chunk out so you get a full view of your creation, whatever shape it may have taken).
And no matter what it looks like, try to embrace it. You made it, after all. Now you have to own it.
Happy anniversary, honey. I hope you like amoebas.
One year ago: Dilled dairy quick bread
Cake & icing recipes tweaked from i am baker
* Note: This recipe yielded cakes that were too low to be properly carved into the shapes needed to create the heart center. Next time, I’ll use smaller pans or double the batter.
- 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ cups sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C. Grease four 9″ cake pans.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth (I did 2 minutes on speed 4). Add the sugar and beat until fluffy (3 minutes on speed 4).
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating briefly after each addition (speed 1 from now on).
4. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine milk and vanilla extract in a measuring cup. Add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat just until the ingredients are incorporated.
5. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula and stir to make sure everything is well blended. Scoop the batter into the prepared pans, trying to divide it as evenly as possible (you can use a scale if you like, but I just eyeballed it).
6. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Set cakes aside while you make the red velvet cake (recipe below), then move them from the pans to wire cooling racks to cool the rest of the way.
Red velvet cake
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1¾ cups sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 100 drops red food coloring*
- 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 3⅓ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp white vinegar
- 1½ tsp baking soda
* I know this is ridiculous. I started with some Wilton gel food coloring and then just went wild with the liquid food coloring. I’m not actually suggesting that you count out 100 drops. You could use the 6 Tbsp of coloring as the original recipe suggests, or just play around.
1. Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan and press a sheet of parchment paper inside.
2. Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until very light and fluffy (I did 4 minutes on speed 4). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition (everything from here on was beat on speed 1).
3. In a small bowl, mix together the food coloring, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract. Add to the batter and beat until fully incorporated.
4. In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add this to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat just until the ingredients are incorporated.
5. In a small dish, stir together the vinegar and baking soda (and enjoy the cool reaction). Add it to the batter and mix well. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, making sure everything is blended and the batter is smooth. Take an extra few seconds to ensure that the color is evenly distributed.
6. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then lift the cake out by grasping the edges of the parchment paper and let it cool the rest of the way on a wire rack.
7. Once the cake has fully cooled, use a serrated knife to slice off the crusty top. Flip the cake upside down into the pan and peel the paper off the bottom. Use a fork to scrape the cake into crumbs and mix with about a cup of white icing (recipe below).
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 8 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp almond extract
1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until fluffy (I did 4 minutes on speed 4).
2. Add 4 cups of sugar, the water, and the almond extract. Beat until smooth and creamy (3 minutes on speed 2). Add the remaining 4 cups of sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (1-2 minutes on speed 2). At this point, your icing will be soft but it should be thick enough to spread easily.
3. If your cakes are not cool enough to frost, store the icing (covered) at room temperature until ready to use (up to three days, says i am baker).