Sure you can have a moist and delicious cake. But for me, all that matters is the icing on top. With every great cake, comes an even better icing.
I have a serious sweet tooth… but it’s a very picky one. I am not a huge fan of cake, but my weakness is a great icing. Royal, buttercream, whipped, you name it. The sweeter the better. My favorite is what Baskin Robbins uses on their ice cream cakes…but I have yet to figure out their secret recipe.
This summer my mom and I have been taking different cooking and baking classes.
Last week we traveled to St. Louis for a cake decorating class. It refreshed our decorating skills and we practiced different techinques to make leaves, flowers and borders with royal icing and piping bags. I have always decorated cakes and cookies. I use the icing to create images as if I were painting or drawing. I think of decorating as an edible canvas and I paint with the icing. I have always decorated cakes and cookies using my own techniques, without ever learning the correct piping methods to use with the different styles of metal tips.
One technique we learned in the decorating class was the basket weave. It looks complicated but it is so simple!! If you pipe a weave around the outer sides of the cake it looks just like a basket.
MY PROJECT: My idea was to make a chocolate cake and then make a weave around it and put fresh berries on top so that it looks like a basket of fruit. I had fresh raspberries and blackberries on hand so it was perfect!
The ganache icing was more of a glaze consistency so I glazed over the first tier of the cake, added the top and then glazed the whole cake. I also made a chocolate frosting that was thicker just in case I needed that to do the piping. So for this cake I experimented with two different icing recipes.
I let the ganche layer on the cake dry and then added a cup or more of powdered sugar to the extra ganache and went back over the cake. In order to have some icing to pipe the basket, I mixed in my second chocolate frosting to the remainder of the ganache and put it in a piping bag to decorate the cake.
Since I experimented with two types of icing, the next time I make the cake I would just use one of the two. Either one would work great! Just make sure the ganache icing is thick enough if you are going to use a piping bag and decorate your cake.
Three years ago I made a rich chocolate cake with ganache frosting for Mother’s Day. The recipe below is the same cake. I bought a chunk of good-quality bittersweet chocolate at Whole Foods last week so this was a perfect opportunity to use it throughout the dessert.
RICH CHOCOLATE CAKE
(based off a Martha Stewart recipe)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- ½ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup wheat flour and 1 cup white flour but it makes a denser cake)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cus packed light brown sugar
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 6 ounces (about ¾-1 cup) bittersweet chocolate melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
-Preheat 350 degrees. Butter 2 8 inch round cake pans, dust with cocoa and tap out access. Line bottom of each with a round of parchment paper.
-In medium bowl whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and set aside.
-Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well in between each one. Beat in chocolate and vanilla. With mixture on low, alternate flour mixture with the buttermilk. End with the flour mixture.
-Divide batter between pans, smooth tops. Bake until toothpick comes out clean (about 35 minutes). Cool in pans 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and invert cakes on a wire rack and cool completely.
-Set one cake on your cake stand or wrok surface with parchment under it. Spread about 1/3 of ganche over the layer. Place second cake on top and spread more frosting on top to frost the entire cake.
Both chocolate frostings work great with this cake… so try them both out to decide which one you like!
DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ½ cup powdered sugar (I added 1 cup more while it was cooling in the fridge to make it thicker)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ¾ pound bittersweet chocolate and ¼ pound dark chocolate chopped (or any combination you prefer)
-In a large saucepan bring 2 cups cream, ½ cup powdered sugar and salt to a bowl. Remove from heat. Add chopped chocolate and let stand 1 minute without stirring. Whisk until just combined. Refrigerate and stir occasionally. About 1 hour. I added more powdered sugar (about 1 cup) in order to thicken the frosting.
- 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chopped
- ¼ cup dutch-process cocoa poswer
- ¼ cup boiling water
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar (add more when done if you want the frosting thicker)
- pinch of salt
-Place chocolate in a saucepan and heat until almost melted (do not burn). Remove from heat until chocolate has completely melted. Let chocolate cool (20 minutes or so)
-With mixture, beat butter ad powdered sugar and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes). Add melted chocolate and beat on low until combined (1-2 minutes). Scrape down sides of bowl as you mix. Beat in cocoa mixture.
-Beat in more powdered sugar as needed in order to thicken the frosting