Last week was my wonderful friend and neighbor Cort’s birthday. They decided to go all out by having a crawfish boil and inviting lots of friends and family along to join in on the celebration. Unfortunately, I filled up on appetizers and then didn’t want any crawfish. Story of my life. 😛
Anyway, about a week prior to this her husband was trying to tell me that I shouldn’t even bother making a cake. Like what?! I guess the idea was that since people would be drinking no one would be thinking about eating cake. He didn’t want me to exert myself if it was just going to sit there untouched.
He’s so silly. Because people ate it! And at least one kid told me it was the best cake he’d ever eaten in his life. HIS LIFE. Eat that, Kevin.
Anyway, once it became clear that he was crushing my dreams by telling me not to bother with a cake, he changed it to just not making a big cake. Then finally we agreed upon one normal sized cake plus a wee top tier. The finished cake consisted of three 6-inch layers for the bottom tier and two 4-inch layers for the top tier.
Trying to decide on a cake for Cort was hard because she’s not a girly girl. She wouldn’t want fresh flowers or lace or anything like that. She’s also not a fan of icing, so I had to rule out all buttercream ideas. What she does like is ganache! So that was a must. We talked a bit about it and she also mentioned that she liked the double drip techniques that I did on another cake. I….I thought I blogged about it, but I just went to embed the entry and I guess I didn’t. That’s okay, I will show you here! Lastly, I know that she loves to collect funky rocks so I wanted to tie that in somehow.
So hold on tight, because here is the step-by-step tutorial.
Begin by building up your bottom tier. As you can see here I alternated between strawberry and chocolate cake layers. I also soaked each layer in a simple syrup (1 part water, 1 part sugar, bring to boil then allow to cool). I filled the cake with chocolate ganache, as requested. I made the ganache before bed and let it sit on my counter until morning. By the time I woke up it had set to the perfect spreading consistency. If you’re in a rush you can also make your ganache and then pop it into the refrigerator, stirring every five minutes or so until it thickens up enough to where it is easily scoopable but won’t drip off your spoon.
Once my layers were built up I roughly covered the outside of the cake with more chocolate ganache. The unevenness was intentional. I was aiming for a rustic, naked cake look that also sort of mimicked plaster. I think I was successful. As you can also see here, I plopped the whole thing on a cake board. This was so I could easily transport it to the fridge after I dripped on my ganache. Since I planned to flip the cake over anyway I didn’t bother attaching the board to the cake.
Left: After adding my colored ganache to a piping bag I created drips all around the cake. I wanted them to be different lengths, so I timed how long I applied pressure to my piping bag. This sounds harder than it is. I literally just said “1…2…3…” for a long drip, then moved over a centimeter and said “1…” for a short drip, and repeated this randomly all around the perimeter of the cake. The goal is to not allow your drips to reach the bottom, but if happens it’s not the end of the world.
Right: As you can see, I then attached a cake board to the top using some of that ganache. I think this was the point where I said, “WTF WHY DIDN’T I COVER MY CAKE BOARD FIRST?” I ended up removing it later and replacing it with one I’d covered in foil. Anyway, I placed this in the freezer so I could do the same exact thing to my bottom tier.
This sprinkles lid happened to be exactly 4-inches so I traced it and cut it out so I had something for my smaller tier to sit on.
All done! This little cake went into the freezer while I worked on the larger one again.
Here we are with the larger tier again, except I’ve flipped it over and removed the cake board, revealing pretty “drips” that now appear to crawl up the cake. The next step was to cover the top with more of that chocolate ganache. But this ganache way way too thick to drip, so I realized I had a problem. What I ended up doing was microwaving my remaining ganache for about 5-10 seconds. It was still not quite the same consistency as the pink ganache so I think I added a teaspoon of vegetable oil. It was still way goopier than I would have liked it, so I suggest just making a new, small batch of chocolate ganache using the 3:1 ratio (3 parts chocolate, 1 part cream) and then letting it sit for like 5-10 mins.
Now add your chocolate drips. If you can, aim your drips between the pink drips. Think of interlocking fingers. Mine was so goopy that I couldn’t really even do that. I’m not complaining…it still looks delicious. But I definitely wish it would have been more flowy like the pink ganache. At this point I also added three dowels into the center of the tier so that I could be sure it would support the top tier. I repeated this dripping process with the smaller tier, placed it on the top tier. But I didn’t photograph it. Yay for only forgetting to photograph 1 step in the process so far!
The next thing I did was dip my strawberries into some chocolate. Not the ganache, since ganache never truly sets. I made my own dipping chocolate by melting 1 cup of chocolate and adding 1 tablespoon of melted shortening. Easy peasy. It isn’t as shiny as true tempered chocolate but it gets the job done.
I ended up cutting some of these strawberries in half and then coating the exposed fruit with some honey (you can also use apricot preserves). Is that not a sexy looking strawberry?
The last decoration I made was rock candy–but here is the deal: My goal was to make smaller versions of these edible rock candy geodes. But I forgot about them. I should have gotten started about two days earlier! So while there was some crystalization, it wasn’t nearly enough to dip into chocolate. But then I found an online tutorial that promised rock candy in just FOUR HOURS. I tried that, but the sugar didn’t crystalize at all. It ended up looking like a hard, colorful lump of sugar. This obviously wasn’t the look I was going for, since it still looked like a rock I put it on the cake anyway. I also dusted them with some edible dusts to make them shimmer more. These pictures really don’t do my rocks justice. They definitely twinkled a bit in person. The color was also a bit deeper; not so gray.
As you can see here I also used the leftover pink ganache to pipe some spiky pearls around the base of each tier. I wasn’t going for spiky, but that was the consistency of the ganache at that point, and I decided to leave it because it was sort of cool.
So that’s how you do it! While it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, it definitely stayed true to that rustic appearance and I got quite a few compliments, which was nice.
Not bad at all! 🙂