Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tales of a Tiered Cake #4 – The Cake

This picture is of me with the second tiered cake I had ever made. You can see that it uses pillars, like my first cake. It was made for a birthday party for my dear friend Ann Del Vecchio. Since I don't have any nice photos of the cake in progress, I thought this would capture the mood...

This is an ongoing series of posts about my adventure with making a tiered cake for an engagement party for both of my kids. It’s a work in progress, so please do not rely on these recipes until the end, when I will re-post the corrected recipes.
Now that the cherries are marinating, I’m going to make the 12-inch chocolate tier. Depending on my time schedule I’ll either freeze it for a short time and then assemble the cake, or make them on the day before assembly and then freeze the assembled cake. Unless you have a large standing freezer, you won’t have the option of freezing the assembled cake, as it takes up a lot of room. D0n’t forget to also check the size of your refrigerator. It has to accomodate at least a 14-inch round cake board and height clearance of at least 7-inches. If you can’t fit all three cakes in your refrigerator, you might think twice about making a tiered cake, or at least you’ll have to arrange for space elsewhere.
For the cake I’ll be using the recipe from my previously posted Chocolate Blackout cake. For a 12-inch round I can’t do much more than 1 recipe in my 5-quart mixer, so I’ll have to make the recipe twice. For 1 recipe I’ll scale it to 3 eggs and for 1 recipe I’ll scale it to 4 eggs to see which will work better.
Chocolate Wedding Cake 12-inch tier

7 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons oil

2-3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons (244 grams) all-purpose flour, measured by fluffing, scooping and leveling
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1-1/2 cups sugar

1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/8 cups sour cream, room temperature
1 cup milk (skim or regular), room temperature

For the 4-egg recipe
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons oil

3-3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (488 grams) all-purpose flour, measured by fluffing, scooping and leveling
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

20 tablespoons (10 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups sugar

2 teaspoon vanilla
4 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sour cream, room temperature
1-1/4 cups milk (skim or regular), room temperature

Follow these instructions for either of the above set of ingredients, and then repeat for the second layer:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. with an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Grease a 12-inch x 3-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and then spray-grease and flour the pan

Place the chopped chocolate and the oil in a microwave-safe container. Micro-cook on medium (#5) for 1 minute. Stir and then reheat in 15-second increments on medium power until the chocolate is melted.

In a small bowl sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set it aside.

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In a mixer bowl, combine the butter and both sugars. Beat on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is uniformly smooth and creamy, and well aerated. Beat in vanilla. Add the eggs, beating for 1 minute after the addition of each egg, and scraping down the bowl a few times. On low, beat in the sour cream and chocolate. On low, in 4 additions, beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour.
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Spoon the batter into the pan.
Bake for 60-70 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Set the cakes on a wire rack. Immediately, run a knife around the edges of the cakes, using an up-and-down, rather than a sawing motion. Cool completely. Invert the cooled pans onto a board, and rap the pans sharply to get the cakes out of the pans. Remove the parchment, and re-invert the cake so that they are right-side-up. Trim the cakes to get them level or to reduce them to the thickness you desire. You can use a cake saw (I like Wilton's), or a long serrated knife.
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(My photos of the chocolate cake I just made have disappeared!) You’ll get to see the cake when I assemble the tier.
Results: The 3-egg tier made enough for a 1-7/16-inch (scant 1-1/2) layer with 1/16 to 1/8-inch being trimmed. It's pretty hard to trim just 1/16, so I think the 3-egg recipe would be better for a 1-1/4-inch layer. The 4-egg tier was almost 2-inches high, so it worked very well for a 1-1/2-inch layer. Because I don't want to throw away the 3-egg layer, I'll cut both layers to a scant 1-1/2 inches.
I’m going to freeze these cakes, and then I’ll make the frostings and assemble the cake when next I have a long day free. To freeze the cake, use a double layer of heavy-duty, long foil. Make sure that instead of just overlapping the ends, you roll up the foil, so that air won’t get in. When done, you can put the whole thing in a zip-top bag and then pop it into the freezer.

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Problems: The cake was a little underdone in the center, but very well done at the outer edges. I know this from trimming the top off of the cake. I won’t know until we actually eat the cake whether it was too fudgy, or whether the fudginess tastes good. I could have used a baking cone in the center (available from You put the cone in the center of the pan, fill it with batter, and then fill the rest of the pan with batter. The batter in the cone and the batter in the pan should be at the same level. After the two are done baking, you pop the cake out of the cone and set it in the center of the cake. I was a bit nervous about having a separate piece in the middle of the cake, but it might have given me a more evenly baked cake.


Frostedbetty said...

What I like to do is for every cake I bake thats 12" or bigger is put a flower nail pointy side up inside the pan(in the center) before I pour in my batter. Then when the cake is finished baking when you take it out of the pan the flower nail lifts right out(make sure you prep the flower nail as you would the pan before pouring). Just remember that its just as hot as the pan was. I always seem to think I can just pull it out with my fingers :)

Penny Wantuck Eisenberg said...

Great comment! I will try that next time.