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Posted by on May 1, 2011 in BettyBecca Bakes, Kitchen Tools | 0 comments

2-Tiered Success

My mission yesterday was to bake, assemble, and decorate a 2-Tiered cake. I put it up on auction at the summer camp fundraiser for the youth group a few weeks ago. What did I get myself into?

The winner wanted the cake for her daughter’s 40th birthday party. No pressure.

We agreed on

  • 2-tiers (6″ and 8″)
  • Chocolate cake
  • Raspberry filling
  • Butter cream icing
  • Fondant rose decorations
  • I would deliver the cake to her home (April 30th; early afternoon) in preparation for family dinner that evening.

What do I need to do first? Then what? 
I started off by making a plan (pictured: bottom right). This exercise allows me to go through each step and make a list of every little detail. From there, I assign priority and make a timeline. It’s like dress rehearsal, and it keeps me from missing something important when I’m actually baking (Read: Stress and multitasking can get you in trouble).

For the cake:
I used the same Devil’s Food cake mix from these cupcakes (by Duncan Hines). I could literally (wink to AW) eat this cake with no icing. It is so moist and airy.

For supplies, I needed two 6″ and two 8″ cake pans, and for ingredients, I needed six eggs, oil, and water. I warmed up the eggs, water, and oil according to this secret weapon.

For the icing: 
I used this recipe for the butter cream. My milk was sour, so I used a little water to thin it with no trouble. On the table, I have a one-pound block of butter. Apparently, when you buy it at Sam’s, you don’t get sticks, but it comes in one solid piece. Thankfully, I needed the whole thing, so it worked out fine. Don’t forget, it’s very important for the butter to be room temp.

Also, there is a two-pound bag of powdered sugar for the icing and food coloring to get the nice pink and green colors I used. I made two batches of butter cream, but it was a little close to running out for comfort. I’ll make 3 next time. It’s never a bad thing to have extra butter cream on hand, but not having enough can cause serious problems! I didn’t have any extra butter set out to whip up a quick batch as a back up or I certainly would have.

For the filling: 
I got fresh Driscoll’s raspberries from Sam’s on Tuesday. They were quite tasty, but they weren’t at the peak of taste to be able to use them fresh. I used Emeril’s recipe for Raspberry Filling, and it was wonderful. I had to work hard to get the seeds to turn loose of the tasty pulp, but it the end result was delicious. I’ll definitely be using this again. The flavor played along so well with the rich chocolate cake.

Note for next time: I only made a half recipe because I only had 2 cups of berries. I definitely had to stretch it, and I could have used the whole recipe.

For the fondant roses: 
I used Virgin White FondX from Sweet Wise where I took my cake decorating class back in January. I had a rough start getting them to come out, but eventually figured it out. You can watch a video tutorial (along with many other helpful videos) on Sweet Wise’s YouTube channel. I needed extra powdered sugar for the rose making, but I quickly learned that I was using too much. Once I got the hang of it, I knocked out about 17 roses, and 15 made it on to the cake.

Other supplies: 
Also on the table, you’ll see an icing tip and coupler, a cake leveler, cardboard cake rounds, my marble trivets, and my decorating turntable (my pride and joy, a “just because” from Mr. J).

The blue-topped plastic box is where I keep all of my cake decorating supplies: icing tips, couplers, and bags; decorative edge tool; and my icing spatula. I have a straight one, and I really need to add an off-set to my collection. It’s on my list for Santa this year.

Baking:
I definitely will not bake and decorate on the same day again, if I can help it. It makes for a LONG day. I started at 6:30 a.m. I’ve read that you can freeze cake up to a week ahead with no change in taste, and it makes assembly and decorating easier. That sounds like a win-win to me.

Everything went really well with the baking. I mixed up two boxes of mix, and I put 2 cups of batter in the small pans and 3 cups in the large using this technique for coating the pans. I had batter left over, and I made an extra thin cake for us. Next time, I’ll add it to the large cakes because they could have been taller and still been fine in the pan. The sides were shorter on the big pans so I wanted to be cautious.

I cooled for quite a while on my stackable cooling racks. I love these things (lots more cooling surface without sacrificing precious real estate on the counter).

Assembly:
After I was certain that the cakes had cooled. I began the assembly process. The first step was to prepare my bases. I chose a simple clear glass cake plate with a 12″ doily on top to pretty it up a bit. I covered a 6″ and 8″ cardboard round in foil. I put a little icing on the round to keep the cake from sliding around, and then placed the first 8″ cake down on the board.

I leveled the cake first, choosing the little notch on the leveler where the dome began on the cake. I made a note of this notch so that I could make all of the cakes the same thickness. Next, I torted the cakes for the filling. Torting means to cut the layer in half. I found it helpful to start the cut with a serrated knife because the leveler I have is a cheap one with a wire.

A trick I learned from a Sweet Wise video is to use a large spatula to keep the torted layers from breaking as you’re moving them around. I kept a dinner plate close by to keep the top of the layer on while I was working. It’s helpful to end on top with the bottom of a layer so that the edge is smooth instead of one that’s been cut. This requires some flipping, but the plate and spatula were a big help.

I kept up the leveling, torting, filling process until I had my two tiers done. I kept them separate until the very end.

Assembly went like this:
6″ tier:
Half 6″ cake layer
Raspberry filling with butter cream dam
Half 6″ cake layer
Layer of butter cream
Half 6″ cake layer
Raspberry filling with butter cream dam
Half 6″ cake layer
6″ cardboard

<little wood skewers for support when I assembled at the end>
8″ tier:

Half 8″ cake layer
Raspberry filling with butter cream dam
Half 8″ cake layer
Layer of butter cream
Half 8″ cake layer
Raspberry filling with butter cream dam
Half 8″ cake layer
8″ cardboard

Next, it was time for the crumb coat. This is a layer of icing that locks in all of the crumbs, which is why it’s also sometimes called a “dirty ice.” Here’s a picture of this step:

From there, the icing needed to set for about 20 minutes. While I was waiting, I continued on my rose-making quest.

For the final coat of icing, it was a little thinner than I would have liked because as I mentioned before I was short on icing, and I still needed enough to do the trim. It’s also extremely hard to cover cake that dark. I put it on there as smooth and thick as I could, and then I let it set again for 30 minutes. From there, I was able to smooth it out with my hand over a piece of parchment paper, another trick I learned at Sweet Wise class.

I made some quick accent green icing, and it was time for the final step: stacking the tiers and decorating. I waited until this point to stack the two tiers on top of one another. I inserted 4 wooden skewers into the bottom tier to support the weight of the top tier. The cake was incredibly spongy, and I have no doubt that this step was necessary. When I was torting the layers, the cake looked like Swiss cheese it was so hole-y. The skewers need to be about 1/4″ above the top of the bottom tier to keep the icing for that tier from sticking to the cardboard under the tier above it. Using the icing spatula, I guided the top layer in place. I nicked the icing a little when I dropped in place, but I was able to cover it up with my decorations.

Decorating:
Ok, so now it was time for the fun part. I started by placing the roses in batches of three around the cake. Then, I added leaves in the green to add a little more stability to the flowers. Next, I piped a dot border around the interior and exterior edges. This step allowed me to make the cake look finished and cover up my boards and any imperfections along the bottom of each tier. As a final step, I added dots in groups of three to fill up the remainder of the cake. I smoothed out all of the dots with a little water on the top of my finger to minimize any peaks left over from piping on the dots, and it was time to deliver the cake.

Thankfully, Mr. J drove me for the delivery. I don’t think I could have done it by myself. It was hot so we had the A/C blasting, and I had to shift with the cake in traffic.

We found the house ok, and my “client” was very pleased. From the cake scraps and leftover icing and filling, I can tell you it was all very tasty. Hope you had a happy birthday, Jennifer!

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