After poking around on a couple of recipe Websites, I found a chocolate cake recipe that I thought: a) looked delicious; and b) would be solid enough to hold up a second layer of cake (the only directions I've been given on the cake is that it should be chocolate). I used this chocolate cake recipe from Epicurious. I baked it the weekend before and slipped it into the freezer so that I wouldn't have to worry about the construction of the cake during the week leading up to the party. The general consensus on the cake was that it was delicious, and I have to agree. This probably had something to do with the amounts of butter, sugar, and eggs that went into it, but hey, it's cake, it's not supposed to be healthy. And from my baker/decorator view point, the cake came out relatively flat (not that it didn't rise, but that it didn't have a huge rounded top like the banana one I made as the smaller, second layer), was easy to slice, and wasn't too crumbly to make icing difficult.
What I mean by icing is the buttercream icing layer that went on the cake before the fondant. Buttercream icing is a lot like you might imagine, full of creamed butter. I had never made this type of icing before, since when I took the cake decorating courses it was always pre-made for us. I located a recipe on the Epicurious site for Swiss Meringue, which was what we were instructed to use at the cake decorating courses. The icing has three ingredients: egg whites, sugar and butter. First you heat the egg whites and the sugar in a double boiler until they reach a certain temperature, then you beat the mixture until they reach a soft, foamy, not-quite-soft-peaks consistency, then you add the butter. I only have a hand mixer, so I was a little worried about whether or not it would be able to manage creaming 1.5 pounds of butter, but it worked without a hitch (I also took the butter out of the fridge in the morning before I went to work, so it was very soft). Finally, I tried adding a little amaretto for flavour, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference. It was richly decadent nonetheless.
|First layer of icing (of three...) to go on the cake. Each layer sets in the fridge in between icing.|
|The buttercream icing. Despite halving the recipe I still had leftover.|
|Me icing the cake. Probably the third layer by the looks of things.|
|The banana cake layer all iced and ready for fondant.|
As mentioned above, the fondant was the leftover from my decorating course a few weeks ago, therefore the colours on this cake are a little wacked-out. When I do the actual cake I intend to do a light brown-beige colour for the background, then red, orange, and yellow for the leaves. Yes--the cake will be decorated with leaves rather than stars. I would have done leaves this weekend, except that for some reason Bulk Barn had tons of Hallowe'en cookie cutters, and no autumn sets. Since last weekend I've managed to procure a set of fall-themed cookie cutters from Michaels that has three different sizes of oak and maple leaves. I'm also planning to hand-imprint the leaves with veins to make them look more realistic, and maybe curl the edges on some of them so they aren't all lying perfectly flat, as real leaves wouldn't.
|The chocolate layer iced, and trimmed with fondant. I managed to get it on with almost no difficulties.|
|Me applying the fondant to the banana layer. This one went on perfectly. No tears anywhere.|
|The boarder applied to hide a small gap between the cakes. The green fondant rolled out and ready to make stars.|
|First colour added, working on cutting out stars for the second set of trimmings.|
|Almost there, just purple left. I found at this stage I could move quickly through the decorating.|
|The finished product.|
*at least until the next big cake baking/project comes around...