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Need some help with wedding cakes from experienced bakers

  • tazia Jan 16, 2011 08:25 AM
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I'm a relatively decent baker and one of my friends asked me to do cakes for his wedding. It will be ~80 people and the decorating will be relatively straight forward, so in all, this project shouldn't be too over my head. I'll be doing 3 separate cakes, so there won't be any tiering, which makes my blood pressure a bit lower. I'm excited, but a bit intimidated, especially after some preliminary recipe testing. We did some test cakes over New Year's, with mixed results. For each test cake, I did 2 9" round x 2" layers, all from recipes in the Cake Bible.

The unqualified success:
1. White velvet butter cake soaked with lemon syrup with lemon mousseline buttercream frosting and winter blueberry filling. Everyone loved this...texture and flavors were perfect. Definitely a keeper.

The mixed results:
2. Perfect all-American chocolate butter cake with raspberry sauce and ganache. They wanted a chocolate raspberry cake, so this is what I came up with on first pass. Unfortunately, I realized after the grocery store trip that I didn't have enough natural cocoa powder, so I had to do substitutions with melted chocolate (using conversions from the book). The cake came out dry and crumbly, which might entirely be my fault, but I'm wondering if there might be a better recipe for a rich, moist, chocolate cake out there before I test this one again. I also wasn't a huge fan of the raspberry sauce, so I'm thinking some raspberry preserves might be better. Finally, I suspected the ganache would be a pain to work with (which it was), so I need a good, rich chocolate frosting. Cake Bible or non-Cake Bible suggestions would be great :) So, in summary I still need a rich chocolate cake recipe, advice for raspberry filling, and a chocolate frosting recipe.

3. All-occasion downy yellow butter cake with coffee neo-classic buttercream and Kahlua syrup. They wanted a espresso-y cake, and I was thoroughly unimpressed with this one. The groom didn't much like the neo-classic buttercream (not sweet enough, too buttery), and somehow the flavors just didn't come together. I like the yellow butter cake, but not in this context. I'm hoping to start from scratch with this, but I'm kind of stumped for how to pull this one off. I'm definitely not attached to a butter cake, so if a genoise or biscuit would make more sense, I'd be more than happy to give those a go.

Any ideas/recipes before I do another test round?

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  1. I use a very old fashioned recipe for chocolate cake; it has been our family favorite for years, and I like it quite a lot. I think this is exactly it (mine of course is handwritten on index cards)

    http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,226,1...

    1. 1. This one sounds great and I wouldn't change a thing.

      2. Epicurious.com has many, many chocolate cakes, some perfect for weddings or adapted as wedding cakes, at their site. They have a chocolate layer cake recipe with both chocolate and cocoa, and buttermilk, that posters here seem to love. I can't recall the specific name of the cake, and I know I have it in my recipe file there, along with 100's of other recipes, and can't find it. I'm betting another poster will link it here.

      3. I'd definitely like a espresso genoise, soaked with espresso, espresso ganache mousse, and a white vanilla buttercream, either Swiss or Italian. Either that, or a hazelnut genoise, either a coffee or hazelnut flavored syrup, mocha cream filling and a espresso buttercream. Although I like a good yellow butter cake, a genoise is a bit more dressy for a wedding or other special occasion.

      As far as buttercreams are concerned, I agree, most are just too buttery, and I've found that you don't necessarily have to use the total amount of butter called for in some Swiss or Italian buttercream recipes. The Italian would be a better choice, btw, as it holds up longer than the former, for a wedding cake that may sit out for some time. Here's a current thread with some ideas for producing a less buttery buttercream:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7595...

      Have you checked RLB's Heavenly Cakes for other cakes? Some posters have professed their love for that book over the Cake Bible.

      6 Replies
      1. re: bushwickgirl

        You're thinking of the Double Chocolate Layer Cake on Epicurious:

        http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

        If doing a test of this cake, perhaps bake it in three eight- or nine-inch pans.

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          Yes, I am, and thanks! Senior moment...and all that.

          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            Thanks for the link. This chocolate cake is pretty much exactly the ticket. Talk about rave reviews!

            1. re: tazia

              To up the raspberry flavor, you could brush the layers with Chambord before adding preserves.

            2. re: Caitlin McGrath

              Just want to say, I made this cake and it was awesome. Rave reviews from everyone, including the bride and groom!

              Now, to experiment for cake #3...

            3. re: bushwickgirl

              I love the idea of a hazlenut genoise. I've done one before for a Buche de Noel, and it was SO delicious. Slightly different spin with Frangelico and pastry cream, but I imagine the espresso version would be lovely too. Thanks for the good ideas :) I'll take a look at Heavenly Cakes too.

            4. I've made the same chocolate butter cake. It fell apart in my mouth and was kind of like eating sand. I think it might just not be the greatest recipe. Her recipes for butter cakes (in my experience, perhaps just my production of them?) are VERY hit or miss.

              Her egg white chocolate buttercream is good. It's somewhat light in color and chocolate flavor, but you could mess with adding additional bittersweet chocolate to it to see how it goes.

              1 Reply
              1. re: LaureltQ

                I'm glad to know my substitutions were likely not to blame. It was very disappointing in its crumbliness, even after soaked in a cup or two of syrup. It's such a bummer to waste a ton of high quality cocoa powder and have the results be disappointing.

              2. My husband just went through a similar adventure, having been asked to provide a wedding cake for a friend's daughter. What threw him was learning that the venue (a restaurant) did not have refrigerator space for the cake. Furthermore, it had to be delivered approx 5 hours prior to the event. By the time cake was served, it had been unrefrigerated for at least 7-8 hours. Fortunately my husband knew this in advance, and baked accordingly. Should you have similar restrictions, it would be helpful to make sure that the recipes (specifically the icing/buttercream) you choose will allow for whatever period of non-refrigeration you will face. Good luck!

                1 Reply
                1. re: boredough

                  Thanks for the advice! I've asked about the fridge and set-up situation and will be planning accordingly. Luckily, we will be indoors in the Northeast in May, so weather is unlikely to be a huge issue, but I'm hoping delivery and storage won't be huge issues either.

                2. could't find my copy of this recipe, so here's a link. it's a butter chocolate cake, with a cup of cocoa dissolved in 2 cups of water as the liquid -- i always add a tablespoon of espresso powder. it's really moist, with great chocolate flavor.

                  http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/dark-ch...

                  1. I only made a wedding cake once, but it was really good. It was in Martha Stewart's ENTERTAINING. I think it was a pound cake. (I made it in 1984.)