First, I wanted to thank you all for the birthday wishes. Me and Jeremy had a great time out in the Palm Desert (I’ll post about that soon!) and went out for a grand sushi dinner on my actual birthday, which was lovely. And also, I made another cake! And the generous folks at King Arthur Flour are doing another giveaway! All the giveaways that have happened this month weren’t intentionally set to happen during my birthday month, but that’s how it ended up so I’m going with this “GIFTS FOR EVERYONE!!!!” trend, and plan on recreating it next year.
And yes, I will admit that I’m arriving a bit late to the ombre cake trend. They’ve been all over the internet the past couple years and, while I’ve always admired them from afar, I hadn’t tried making one myself until these past couple days. I loved the pink hues in Carey from Reclaiming Provincial’s chocolate raspberry ice box cake, and decided to try and make the pink ombre shading within the cake layers using this cake recipe and freeze dried raspberries to see what kind of color I could get with a natural color source. It was interesting to see how the vibrant magenta of the raspberries turned into a soft pinkish-lavender when incorporated into the cake batter. The colors turned out nice and pastel-ly, but I noticed that as the amount of freeze-dried raspberries increased, the cake became more and more dense until the last layer had ridiculously tiny bubbles in it rather than the nice-sized air bubbles that normal cake should have.
It still tasted fine, but the texture of the top layer definitely wasn’t as crumb-y as the bottom one. I’m thinking it was because there was less moisture as more of the raspberry powder was added, so it might be able to be counteracted by adding a few teaspoons/tablespoons of milk. Does anybody have any input on this? I’d love to hear your thoughts/advice. But yeah, if you’re averse to super densely-textured cakes, I’d recommend just sticking with food coloring. I’m still glad I attempted to do it the natural way, but sometimes the natural way just doesn’t work out as well, especially when that means compromising the chemical integrity of a cake recipe. Update: the amazingly helpful folks at King Arthur Flour’s baking hotline figured out what the issue was, over mixing! I have updated the recipe below to separate the batter into 6 different portions and then mix the raspberry powder into each one, rather than to keep mixing the same batch over and over again which over-stimulated the gluten.
When I heard the woman in the video talking about the greasy frosting bag issue I am ashamed to admit I was kind of shocked, because I didn’t realize the frosting wasn’t supposed to end up outside of the bag at one point or another. I just thought that getting frosting all over your hands was a regular part of using a pastry bag. But seriously, these two simple steps made frosting the cake so much easier because my hands weren’t slipping around on a greasy frosting bag and I wasn’t worried about squeezing too hard and having the frosting come out the back of the bag. It made frosting the cake much less of a stressful experience, and towards the end I was actually enjoying myself instead of feeling like crying (which is what usually happens towards the end of my experiences with pastry bags). I used an Ateco 352 Leaf Frosting Tip tip to decorate the whole cake and go into further detail about techniques in the recipe below.
Now, lets get to the giveaway! This is one of my all-time favorite giveaways so far, just because it is such a useful kit for anyone who is starting out in cake-making. The giveaway includes:
To enter, leave a comment below about your favorite cake recipe or your biggest baking lesson (those related to my too-dense raspberry layer would be extra helpful!) The deadline for entries is 11:59 pm PST on April 5th, and the winner will be announced on April 6th. Good luck everyone!!!
The contest is now closed. The winner is Christina of Down and Out Chic! Congratulations Christina, I’ll be getting in touch with you about your prize very soon!!!
1.2 Ounce (34 grams) Package Freeze Dried Raspberries (I got mine at Trader Joe’s), ground into a powder (or you can use red food coloring)
In a large bowl, mix together the flours, baking soda, and salt until well-blended. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and lightly flour (6) 8-inch cake pans (if you don’t have this many feel free to pace it out and only bake two at a time and just clean the pans between use, which is what I did). Set aside. Beat the butter in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment at medium speed until smoothed out a bit. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the dry mixture in thirds, alternating with the vanilla paste and extract and 1 and 1/2 cups of the milk, until it is completely combined. Now comes the ombre part. In a small bowl, mix together the raspberry powder with the remaining 3 tablespoons of milk until a paste forms. Set aside. Evenly distribute the batter between 6 bowls (there should be slightly under 1 and 1/2 cups of batter in each bowl).
Leave the 1st bowl as-is. Add 2 teaspoons of the freeze dried raspberry paste to the 2nd bowl and mix until just blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the freeze dried raspberry paste to the 3rd bowl and mix until just blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of the freeze dried raspberry paste to the 4th bowl and mix until just blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add 2 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the freeze dried raspberry paste to the 5th bowl and mix until just blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining freeze dried raspberry paste to the 5th bowl and mix until just blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Pour each of the bowls of batter into their own pan. Place the pans in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes before shaking them a bit from side to side and flipping them onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese, whipped cream, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment at medium speed until the mixture just begins to smooth out. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Set aside.
When the layers have cooled completely you can begin frosting. Layer and frost the cake using a spatula, making sure that you go in order from either pink to white or white to pink (the choice is yours, my friend!). Once the exterior of the cake is completely frosted with a nice smooth layer of frosting, you can begin the decorating process.
First, add one drop of purple and one drop of red food coloring to the remaining frosting and stir until just blended. Fit a pastry bag with an Ateco 352 leaf frosting tip like this one. Hold the pastry bag in your left hand like you would an ice cream cone and fold over the top half of the bag so it kind of goes down over your hand.
Use the spatula to carefully scoop frosting into the bag, being careful not to get it on the sides draped over your hand. Fill the pastry bag up halfway with frosting (if it is too full it will make a giant mess so it’s better to just refill it more often with smaller amounts), then unroll the top from your hand so that the bag is bag to normal again. Fold down the top left and right hand corners of the bag the way you would when wrapping a present. Then roll down until you hit the space that is filled with frosting, and secure the roll in place with a large file clasp.
Now, I really recommend practicing the following techniques on a paper towel or some other scrap piece of paper before you start frosting the cake, just to make sure you get the hang of it first. No need to rush when doing this, keep a nice and steady pace. It’s all about controlling your speed and the amount of pressure you’re putting on the pastry bag. When you start to have a bit more empty space in the bag, take off the clasp, roll the bag down a bit more, and re-clasp it. This will help you maintain the pressure on the bag with less force and keep your hand from getting tired.
There are two techniques I used to frost this cake. The first was an up-and-down ruffle that you can see going around the top and bottom edges of the cake. To make this pattern, make sure the tip is laying flat so that you can see the little “v” in it, rather than just the side of the tip. Bring the tip in contact with the frosting surface and apply pressure to the pastry bag to pump out the frosting while moving the bag up and down as you go along (like a needle on a sewing machine) so that you make little ruffley humps. The more force you use to pump the frosting out of the bag, the frillier the ruffles will be because you’re placing more frosting in a limited space so it starts to frill in order to compress itself.
The second is the compressed vertical zigzag technique. To make this pattern, make sure the tip is laying flat so that when you look down at it you can see the little “v” in it, rather than just the side of the tip. Bring the tip in contact with the frosting surface and apply pressure to the pastry bag to pump out the frosting while moving side-to-side and down at the same time (aka a zigzag). The zigzag strokes should be about an inch across. Try to line up each zigzag right under the one above it so that you don’t let any of the cake surface show between the zigzags. You want the zig-zags to be nice and compressed, but not actually going on top of each other. Continue this throughout the cake, keeping the vertical rows the same width, as straight as possible, and close together. You can see in the photo that I had originally just planned on doing a few single rows around the cake but liked how it looked and started filling in the gaps. This created a slight problem, though, when some of the gaps between the rows that I had to fill in were slightly too big for just one row and slightly too small for two. So make sure you just continue to frost vertical row after vertical row on the cake, and don’t skip around to different parts of the cake. Once you’ve created vertical rows around the entire cake and end up where you started, you’re finished! Congratulations on doing a great job icing a cake!