As a follow up to my awesome strawberry cake recipe (with no jello or extracts!) I thought I would show you how I decorated it. I have gotten so into cake decorating this year. I definitely plan to make a post about it in the future so you can see just how far I’ve come. Prior to this hobby of mine I didn’t think that I had an artistic bone in my body. I can’t draw, I can’t sing, I can’t dance….but I can combine a series of easy steps into a gorgeous cake!
It’s funny because this past Friday night (when I served this cake) my neighbor and I were talking about how far I’ve come. I was browsing the cake pictures that I had stored on my phone and I found one of the first cakes I made. I laughed. Oh. My. But what surprised the hell out of me is that the picture was dated October of 2015. It made me realize how much I’ve learned about cake decorating in 4-5 months. It looks like I made that cake ages ago. It was made from a box mix (I didn’t even add an extra egg like most people do)…the icing…my attempt at creating polka dots…gah! I will show it in future post really soon with some of my other cakes. I’ve been hesitant to keep posting pictures from that time because they were taken on my phone camera before I ever considered starting a blog. Now I have a somewhat fancier camera and I actually make an effort. I guess I’m just worried about scaring people away with my awful photography from back then.
But this post is how I decorated THIS gorgeous quadruple strawberry cake. I call it quadruple because not only is made from strawberry cake (1), but I brush each layer with strawberry puree (2), then top each layer with diced strawberries that I allowed to soak in some sugar and balsamic vinegar (3) and then I cover the whole thing in strawberry buttercream made with the last of the puree (4). So, yes, if you are looking for a beautiful cake that is packed with strawberry flavor, you have definitely come to the right place.
Quick disclaimer: I built up the layers of this cake using the Cake Decorating: Upside Down Method for Straight Edges that I discussed in a previous post. I know, I know, I still need to post how I decorated that cake too. So keeping in mind that this assembly will be flipped over to make the top the bottom, let’s go!
Step 1: Build up the layers. Brush each layer with strawberry puree, pipe a “dam” of buttercream around the perimeter, then add a few spoonfuls of diced strawberries. Cover with more buttercream before placing your next layer on top.
Step 2: Using that same buttercream, seal in all of the crumbs with a thin layer of frosting. Freeze for 20 minutes. Then, add the last of your strawberry puree to your buttercream and do your final coat of frosting. Use a bench scraper or flat spatula to get the sides as flat as possible. Then, place your cake board on the top of your cake like a hat, pressing down to secure it. Put back in the freezer for another 20 minutes.
Step 3: Meanwhile, make your ganache, using the 3:1 ratio. I used approximately one cup of chocolate chips and 1/3 cup of cream. If you go by weight, just remember the same ratio. If you use 3 ounces of chocolate, mix in 1 ounce of cream. Then microwave in 20 second increments until melted. This ganache will have to sit for a little bit so that it will thicken up more. You can help it along by mixing it often or even popping it in the fridge for 5 minutes at a time, stirring between.
Step 4: Create your chocolate sails. This is as easy as melting the chocolate and using a spatula or knife to spread it in a pretty design on some parchment or wax paper. To add curves to my sails I let them set on a sugar flower holder (It’s basically a wavy piece of plastic used for drying sugar flowers) but you can use a couple of paper towel rolls or simply drape them over a glass that you’ve set on its side.
Step 5: Remove your cake from the freezer and flip it over. Remove the wax or parchment square from the top (Again, if you are lost reading this see my post about the upside down method). Now pour your slightly thickened ganache over the top of the cake and use the bottom of a spoon to “guide” it toward the edges and create some drips. Once you’re happy with it, put it back into the freezer to set (another 10 minutes or so). Tip: I actually put some of the ganache in a piping bag to create some of the drips. It is much easier where your drips go and how far they drip this way.
Step 6: Get your decorations ready! I have scissors to cut the flowers, straws to put the stems in before inserting into my cake, a few pretzels, my chocolate sails, my colored sixlet candy (that I didn’t end up using), a fresh strawberry, and some leftover strawberry buttercream (as well as some leftover green buttercream that I also didn’t end up using). I also have a turntable here, which makes maneuvering around the cake a lot easier, so I definitely recommend investing in one. This one was like $11 at my grocery store.
Step 7: Add your white chocolate sails. This is a dark picture but as you can see I propped mine up on both sides using some of that reserved buttercream.
Step 7, cont’d: Here is a better picture showing how the buttercream helps to anchor the sails in place. Use light pressure or you risk breaking the sails. The ganache should still be sort of tacky so that will help the sails to stay upright as well.
Step 8: Begin to add your flowers one by one. What I do is cut off a 2 inch section of the straw and stick that in the cake. Then I cut my flower stem about 1 inch from the head of the flower and stick it into the straw. The flowers will provide additional support to the chocolate sails.
Step 9: Keep adding flowers until you are happy with how it looks. I’m pretty sure I ended up rearranging some of the flowers again after this picture. It’s okay to make some mistakes–the flowers usually hide them! I then stuck my pretzels to the side of the cake and added some fresh strawberries that I cut in half.
Here is a (blurry) slice of the deliciousness. Doesn’t even matter; had cake:
And there you have it!
<3 Until next time.