Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Champagne Wedding Cake with Pineapple Filling & White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

So I did something crazy and made a wedding cake.  It seemed like a good idea at the time!  It actually turned out beautiful, though it was quite a bit more work than I expected.  FYI, I'm not a professional baker.  And I was fully aware of that after about layer six.

Basically, the inspiration for this was that a good friend of mine decided to get married, without much notice or fanfare.  I offered to throw her a party.  Of course, a party didn't seem like quite enough, so I got the notion to make a wedding cake, and that was that.  I came up with this combination of flavors - champagne cake, pineapple filling, and white chocolate icing.  It was light, fluffy, delicious, and enjoyed by all.  Hooray!

Champagne Cake Recipe:
2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups champagne
1/2 tsp champagne extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
6 egg whites

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter the pan(s) you are using.  For my cake, I multiplied this recipe by six, and used one 14 inch cake pan, one 12 inch cake pan, and one 10 inch cake pan.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.  Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, and then blend into creamed mixture alternately with champagne.

Next, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold 1/3 of the whites into batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites.  Pour into prepared pan(s).  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Here's the cake stand.  It has removable plastic plates that you can cover with foil for a pretty display.  I got gold foil at a local craft store.
 And the first layer gets frosted!  It all seemed so simple back then....
Tips:  Be sure that the bowl and mixer are dry in order to get the eggs to form stiff peaks.  Also, it takes a while to fold in the eggs, and it is important to do so slowly.

If you want to make a champagne cake but don't want to spend all that time whipping eggs, I found a champagne cake recipe that had a cake mix as a base.  I made it as practice with the filling and frosting the weekend before the party, to be sure the flavor combination would work.  Anyway, the only difference that I noticed between the "real" cake recipe and the one I used with the box cake was that the cake made from scratch was a bit fluffier.

So, if you want to take a shortcut, you can use 1 white cake mix, 1 1/2 cups champagne, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 3 egg whites, 1 tsp sugar, 1/8 tsp almond extract, and 1/2 tsp champagne extract, and make a similar cake to the one I'm describing here!

Pineapple Cake Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon butter

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, flour and salt.  Stir in the egg, pineapple, and pineapple juice. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly so it doesn't scorch, until thick.  Remove from heat and add the butter.  Stir until melted.  Cool completely before filling cake.

This filling was a perfect match - it's sweet, but not syrupy sweet.  I think it would also be great as a filling or topping for cupcakes!

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing:

9 ounces white chocolate
12 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla


This recipe stated that it would make enough to fill and frost two 9 inch by 1 1/2 layers or three 9-inch layers.  I multiplied the recipe by 10, and still nearly ran out of frosting at the end.  Jeez, it takes a lot of frosting to make a wedding cake!  I used about a million pounds of butter and cream cheese and filled my Kitchen Aid Mixer 3 times, to get it all whipped.  Regardless, it's possibly the best icing I've ever tasted, so I'll definitely be using this recipe again.

Directions:
In a small saucepan, break the white chocolate into pieces over medium heat and stir until melted.  Be careful not to let the chocolate burn.  Stir until smooth and then let it cool.  In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy.  Gradually beat in the cooled white chocolate until incorporated.  Beat in the butter and vanilla.

If you refrigerate this frosting, bring it to room temperature and beat it again to prepare it for use.  Do not heat it again.  This frosting held up great - it secured the layers, didn't sweat or melt, and was fine unrefrigerated for several hours.  Plus it tasted goddamn delicious!
Wedding Cake Tips:

Figuring out how to display the cake was one of the most difficult parts of this process.  I didn't realize how difficult it would be to set up a cake of this size.  When I decided to make the cake, I went online and casually ordered a cake stand.  It was about a month before the party at this point, and I was feeling pretty cocky about this whole wedding cake business.  How hard can it be to make a cake, I thought to myself...

When the stand arrived, I was befuddled.  Perplexed.  Concerned.  Sure, it's gorgeous, but it comes in about a hundred pieces and doesn't 't seem sturdy enough to hold up cupcakes, let alone a wedding cake.  This is the one I got:  Crystal Wedding Cake Stand.  You can practically see the unwarranted confidence in the picture.  Six layers?  What was I thinking?

I left it on my dining room table for about a week, and every time I walked by, I tried to analyze the cake stand; discern it's purpose, look into it's future.  Then I realized I was in over my head and went online and ordered a different cake stand.

The next cake stand seemed much simpler.  It had styrofoam pieces to set between the cakes and was only three layers tall.  Here it is - wedding cake stand, attempt #2:  Tailored Tiers Cake DisplayThen it arrived with a ten page booklet of instructions.  Uh oh!  As easy as it looked, it still called for dowels, straws, and other complex equipment.  Considering I was planning on making a full menu for 30 as well as the wedding cake, all on the same day, I needed a better solution.

So came the third cake stand.  A stand so ingenious that the layers would look as though they were on top of one another, but not actually have to be.  Heavenly!  Here it is:  Floating Tier Cake Stand   Of course, the moment my friend Molly (who had offered to help decorate the cake) walked in the door, she asked me why I wasn't placing the layers atop one another....  it isn't her fault, she had no idea what I had been through!  In the end, it all worked out, and I now own 3 different wedding cake stands, which will come in handy if I'm ever asked to make a trio of wedding cakes.  I'm sure that will happen any day now.
I did a lot of research before starting this project.  Apparently, the easiest thing to do is bake the individual cake layers 1-3 months ahead of time and freeze them (easier for frosting!).  Unfortunately, my freezer is tiny, and I realized there was no way these layers would fit.

I was able to find some useful tools at the craft store that saved me a lot of time and effort.  First, I got a 20 inch Lazy Susan, which made frosting the cake much easier.  I also bought a cake layer slicer, very similar to the one in this link: Cake Slicer.  I don't know how I would have been able to cut such thin layers without this slicer.  I made each cake into four layers and placed the filling between each one.  I spread a thin layer of frosting on top of each cake layer, before placing the pineapple filling on top.  This will stop the filling from sinking into the cake and making it soggy.

Another item I purchased was this Cake Lifter, which proved invaluable in lifting the thin and larger cake layers.  This will come in handy all the time!  I wish I had known about it sooner, I can't even count the number of cakes and pies I've messed up when trying to move them from one plate to another.


The final thing I got that was quite helpful was what I call a Cake Comb.  I'm not sure what it is actually called, but it looks just like a comb.  It helps even the sides of the cake and adds a simple, attractive design.

Finally, I decorated this with fresh daisies and sunflowers.  I actually just purchased plants from Home Depot and cannibalized them for the flowers.  What can I say... they were having an end of summer sale, and it was cheaper and faster than getting them from a flower shop!  At the craft store, they have little plastic tubes which you can place the flowers within.  They have a reservoir for water inside, to keep the flowers perky before the cake is served.  I added a bronze ribbon (stolen straight from a picture of a wedding cake I found online that had sunflowers and a brown ribbon) and voilà , the cake was ready for prime time!

All in all, this was a fun (and exhausting) project.  I really just wanted to challenge myself and see if I could do it.  If I ever make a wedding cake again, I will make and cut the layers in advance, because that was basically the most time consuming part.  Enjoy!

2 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness...what an incredible project and your final Wedding Chocolateappearance FANTASTIC! Well done :) therefore glad to possess discovered your site!When meeting your cake decorator for the primary time, bring the maximum amount data as possible; theme of the marriage, color of your dress, woman dress and inspiration from the area and flowers. it'll create the choice easier.

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  2. Beautiful cake,looks lovely and light .I may just borrow your recipe if I may.

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