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Feb 17, 2009 09:51 PM

Showstopping Birthday Cake

I just made this cake recipe from and boy is it a looker (mine came out exactly like the photo) !!! It tastes amazing too. It has everything you could want in a cake- texture and taste wise.
While it does have several elements to it, it is well worth the effort :
)In just under 5 hours I made a tasty masterpiece.

One suggestion for the almond cake component: if your almond paste is a bit hard, microwave it for 20-30sec on high (if it is in a large piece). Otherwise, you'll have a heck of a time (like I did) trying to incorporate it into the mixture.

While it says to use cake flour, I only had cake and pastry flour and used that; it worked fine.

Because you're working with three pans, you'll have to use two racks, so make sure you rotate the pans midway through baking.

The cakes need to be cooled completely before you frost, otherwise the filling will run everywhere. I live in Canada, so that was no problem. I just placed them outside on my backyard table(-8 Celsius.. my own outdoor freezer.haha)

Also, while it recommends using all of the chocolate ganache for the cake filling, I would recommend scaling it back a bit. A few of my family members mentioned that it overpowered the almond cake's taste.
(the recipe says it takes 6 hours to set in the fridge but mine only took 1 1/2 hours.)

The chocolate I used was Lindt dark (I suspect 50-60% cocoa content). Next time I may increase that to 70-75%.

The mascarpone frosting was delicious, but mascarpone is quite costly. Any suggestions on alternatives if I want to make this for another non-special occasion (I was thinking cream cheese but it may be too dense)

Now my question is, what is the best way to preserve the leftovers (freeze)? Will this cake still taste good in the fridge with my makeshift plastic bag dome? (As per Aida's suggestion, I stuck skewers into the cake to prevent the icing from being smeared onto the bag.. worked like a charm!


Next time, I may make the almond praline salted (mmm with some fleur de sel)

I hope you'll try this recipe out :)

Cheers and Happy Baking

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  1. Did you find the cake to be too "almondy" as some of the reviewers stated? They also commented about it being candy-like, but I see nothing wrong with that. ;)

    1. I always have almond paste in the fridge, and it's always pretty solid. Try using a fine box grater or a Microplane to make it usable. Martha the Goddess chilled a rich pastry dough and grated it - lightest, most wonderful pastry I've ever, ever used. Graters rock.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Etsweiler

        Bookwormchef, I didn't find it too almondy. Having experienced cakes in the past with an over-saturation of almond flavour, for this recipe, rather than use the 1 3/4 tsp, I used about 1 1/2 tsp. However, if I were to make it again, I would use the full amount because, as I mentioned before, some found that the ganache overpowered the cake.

        That's such a good idea Etsweiler. I forgot about that trick. I'll have to remember that for next time.

      2. This is only a guess, but how about 1/2 cream chese and 1/2 greek (or drained) yogurt, sour cream or cream fraiche for the marcasapone?

        1. A big thank you to sugarcube for posting this recipe. It came at a time when I was looking for the perfect cake to make for my DS' birthday dinner (family party). I wanted a beautiful, delicious layer cake but all I could find were chocolate cakes. Nothing wrong w/ chocolate; I just wanted something a little different.

          This was perfect! It was labor-intensive but not difficult at all. Mine, like the OP, looked exactly like the photo. It was the best cake I have ever tasted, and my guests went nuts for it. Everyone went home w/ leftovers and the recipe. This may be the new "required" birthday cake in my house!

          1 Reply
          1. re: mdepsmom

            You're welcome mdepsmom. I'm happy to hear it worked out for you!

            The cake is so wonderful because it treads into different taste-territory with the use of the almond paste, but is still able to satisfy a chocolate craving with the ganache and chocolate bark.


          2. That's beautiful!
            This one is my go-to showstopper cake, which I've made a few times now. It's dome-shaped. Looks really complicated, but not that hard to put together, and since it's formed in a bowl you can do it ahead of time and keep it easily in the fridge or freezer. My only tip -- make sure that the pan you use to bake the cake is the correct size! The first time I made it, I used a larger pan, the batter spread too thin, and it was too crunchy to fit the pieces inside the bowl.