Saturday, January 29, 2011

Week 4 – Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Frosting

Once a month, my son's school has meeting that many of the parents attend.  Naturally, for it to be a good meeting, there needs to be food...and CAKE!  I was very excited to bake something that I knew wasn’t going to be consumed alone!  Because I was making something for a group of people, I was a little hesitant to try something entirely new.  Whipping up the chocolate cake from week two seemed like a great idea, but I wanted a different frosting.  
I found a little inspiration on I Am Mommy's blog.  She made a cake that had this gorgeous ruffle design by Martha Stewart, for her daughter’s birthday.  I simply had to try it.  I thought it would be the perfect design for a bunch of women.  (Sorry…I know there was a dad there too!)  Most everything these days around here is blue…so picking pink for the color seemed like a fun idea.

I needed to bake two batches of chocolate cake in order to have three layers.  I made an interesting discovery during the process.  When it comes to baking powder, I usually use Davis or Calumet.  However, despite how much I detest shopping in Wal-Mart, the only baking powder I had in the house was Wal-Mart’s store brand.  Two weeks ago, when I made this chocolate cake recipe the first time, I used that baking powder.  The cake turned out great.  Last week, when I baked the Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake I used Rumford - Aluminum Free baking powder.  Well…we all know what a disaster I had with that cake.  It never occurred to me that the brand of baking powder may have had something to do with it.  When I made the first two layers of this week’s cake, once again I endured a slightly over-flowing mess in my oven.  Nowhere near as bad as last week, but a mess nonetheless.  So I thought about what I could have possibly done different and realized that perhaps it was the baking powder.  I made the second batch of cake with the Wal-Mart brand powder and my chocolate cakes came out perfect again.  This discovery never would have been made had it not been for my weekly baking adventures.  I’m glad that I chose to bake the same recipe more than once.  Now, I’m much more inclined to try the Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake again.  Only this time…with different baking powder!  (There will be some further research into the various brands of baking powder.  I had no idea that it sometimes contains aluminum.  That just doesn't sound like a good thing to be eating.)

I’m not 100% sure how I felt about the taste of the Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  While this buttercream was quite buttery, it paired well with the chocolate cake because it wasn't very sweet.  I thought that this buttercream was very easy to decorate with and I will definitely try it out again sometime very soon.  I found that using wax paper worked great while I was practicing the ruffle design.  I used Wilton tip #103.  It did take a little while to get the hang of making the ruffle.  And…I must admit that I found it challenging to make the design go from the bottom of the cake to the top.  In the end, I made the ruffle go down the cake instead of going up the sides.  My design looked a little different, but if you didn’t know what it was originally supposed to look like, you would not have necessarily realized that I goofed.  When I was all finished and had some buttercream left over, I played a little more with it and figured out how it was supposed to have worked.  Of course I was aggravated that I hadn’t decorated the cake the proper way from the beginning, but that’s what you get when you have two kids to tend to all while baking and decorating a cake that you want to look presentable…in time for a meeting!

When the decorating was complete, I put the cake in the refrigerator until it was time to leave.  The cake didn’t have a chance to fully return to room temperature by the time it was served.  The frosting crumbed off the first few pieces that were cut because it was still too cold.  So, if you ever choose this buttercream recipe, please make sure that the cake is back to room temperature before you serve it. My son and I enjoyed the small piece that was left when I got home.  I had no problem cutting into it by that point and he was very excited to enjoy a slice with his mommy.  He told me it was “the most Beautiful cake EVER!”  And that’s how I knew it had been a success!

Final Notes:  While speaking with Emily the other day, she said that I should consider making a tutorial for one of these recipes.  That actually sounded like a great idea and I took pictures of almost every step during this cake baking experience.  When I got to the very end and was about to put the batter in the pans, my son knocked a glass off the counter and left me with a disaster to clean up.  The cakes went into the oven and the photos ended!  What I came to discover, once things calmed down in my kitchen, was that there is a video post of this cake being prepared by Ina Garten on The Food Network! (Picture me banging my head against the wall right now…) Anyway, while taking 1000s of food pictures can be very time consuming, it is helping me with my food photography techniques.  Once again…another work-in-progress!  It will be interesting to see how much my cake design, photography, and even web design improve by the end of this year.  This current blog is just a template set up by the folks at Google.  I do intend on designing my own page…just give me a few more weeks…

As for next week...One Cake a Week may combine efforts with Two Cupcakes in My Kitchen.  One can only imagine what we will bake up together! 


  1. I LOVE it!! So pretty. I can't wait to see what the cakes look like by the end of the year! I'm not so hot at decorating with icing. In fact, now that Shaun's home, I did something I've been wanting to do for a while now -- sign up for Wilton classes. It would be so much more fun if we were closer so that we could do them together! CAN'T WAIT FOR NEXT WEEK...I feel like the pressure's on us now! Thanks a ton, Aunt Robin :)

  2. Pretty! You are so much better at this than I would be...I'd be like: "chocolate...cake...good."

    I think "Use Real Butter" has food photog tips on her site, but yours are already good enough to make me hungry!!


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