Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Brannon & Niusha's Red Velvet Wedding Cake, Part II

So, here are the details of the wedding cake, in case you want to make one yourself.  This, obviously, is quite a project - I baked a little on Thursday, a little on Friday, and the rest on Saturday.  I got the cakes filled on Saturday, and frosted and decorated them on Sunday - and I still ran late.

I made a 6" tier, an 8" tier, and two 10" tiers (the second 10" tier was kept back in the kitchen and wasn't stacked with the others).  Each tier had 3 layers.  By my math, this should have gotten us about 115 servings, but the chef at the wedding cut them smaller than I'd estimated, and there was a LOT left over (but the pieces he served were plenty big!)

Each 6" tier had a little more than 2 cups of batter in it; each 8" tier had about 3.5 cups of batter in it, and each 10" tier had about 4.5 cups of batter in it.  Each batch of the cake makes about 9 cups of batter, so you'll have a little bit left over.

  • 5 batches of  the red velvet cake from Smitten Kitchen
  • 1 batch of caramel sauce. I made my own - recipe below - but good-quality store bought will do (just not ice cream topping!)
  • 1 large batch of cream cheese frosting (recipe below)
  • 2 batches of Dark Chocolate Frosting from Martha Stewart (this is my new favorite chocolate frosting - it is excellent.  It tastes amazing and it spreads divinely!)

Caramel Sauce

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla (optional)

Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup in a large saucepan (better too big than too small!) over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Keep boiling until it turn a lovely brown caramel color (but be careful - it goes from "lovely" to "burnt and bitter" in a blink of an eye), swirling occasionally to avoid hot spots.  When it's the color you want, remove it from the heat and pour in the cold cream, at arm's length.  It will bubble up violently, so be careful!  Stir the cream in, then add the vanilla.  If it's not quite as dark as you want it, you can return it to the heat, stirring the whole time.

Cream cheese frosting

3 8oz pkgs cream cheese, room temperature
3 sticks butter, room temperature
3-4 lbs confectioner's sugar
2 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the cream cheese and the butter.  Add the vanilla and the salt and stir until well mixed.  Add the sugar in batches, so it doesn't poof up all over your kitchen.  If the frosting gets too stiff, add a splash of milk or water.  Keep adjusting with sugar and milk until it tastes right and is the consistency you want.  (Keep in mind - you'll be adding caramel sauce to half of it, so you don't want it too loose.)

Divide cream cheese frosting in half, and add caramel sauce (to taste - I added about a cup) to one half.


  • Cake plates: Wilton Decorator Preferred square plates.  I used the hidden pillars (which are also on that page) to support the cake.
  • Edible pearls: 8mm gold pearlized from Sugarcraft.
  • I covered the big pearls in gold luster dust, also from Sugarcraft.  Just put a teaspoon or so of the dust in a zip-top bag, add the pearls, and give it a good shake.
  • I got the little pearls at Williams-Sonoma in... January?  But I can't find them on the website now.  This is what the bottle looks like:
They're tiny, like 2mm.  You can get a similar product from Sugarcraft, I think.
  • You'll need tweezers to put them on the cake, unless you really want to go insane.
  • You'll also need the typical frosting tools: offset (or not) spatulas, cake boards (always buy more than you think you'll need), and a turntable.

  • Bake all the cakes.  Once they're cool, wrap them in plastic and keep them in the fridge.  You can do this a couple weeks in advance and freeze them, but I don't have that kind of room in my freezer.
  • Make the filling and fill your cakes.  I filled them all and put them in the fridge overnight.  My tiers, from the bottom up, went like this: cake, caramel cream cheese frosting, cake, cream cheese frosting, cake.
  • Make the frosting and frost the cakes.  Squares can be tricky to frost, but at least you're working with nice spreadable frosting!  Put a generous layer of frosting on each tier - if the frosting is too thin, your pearls will fall off (like mine did).  
  • For the pearls... let's see.  You want the frosting to be room temperature when you put the pearls on, so if you frost them the day of the wedding, like I did, don't refrigerate the cakes after you frost them.  I used long, angled tweezers that I got from Sugarcraft, and I dipped each pearl in a little frosting right before I put them on.

  • Stacking the whole cake is easy - I know it's scary if you've never done it before, but I promise it's not too bad!  
  • Starting with the largest tier: use the separator plate for the next smallest tier and center it over your cake.  Once you're sure you like its placement, push the plate gently into the top of your large tier.  The feet will mark where the pillars should go.  
  • If you want space between each tier (say, for flowers), just push the Hidden Pillars directly into the cake, where the marks are.  IMPORTANT: make sure the pillars are vertical!  You don't want them to go into the cake at an angle.
  • If you want the tiers right on top of each other, push one pillar into the cake and mark its height.  Pull it out and use a little saw or knife to cut each pillar to that height.  (IMPORTANT: don't just cut all the pillars for the entire cake to the height of one tier - customize for each tier!  A half-inch makes a difference here.)  Once the pillars are cut, push them into the cake where the marks are.
  • Do this whole process for each tier.
  • Once all the pillars are in the cakes, you can stack them.  Start at the bottom and fit the feet of the plates into the pillars, making sure they're secure.  NOTE: I do not stack cakes before delivery!  I don't need that kind of stress.  I get them all prepped and load them into boxes, then do the final stack at the reception site.

And look - you have yourself a wedding cake!

    Saturday, April 17, 2010

    Hey, Remember that Sock?

    Well, I picked up the sock that I started almost a year ago, and I'm actually making progress on it!  That picture is of the turned heel.  I'm starting on the gusset, and I might have that lone sock finished within a couple of weeks!

    Then I just have to do it all over again...

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