Well, we did it! Thanksgiving weekend has come to a close. Did everyone have an amazing holiday? What about Black Friday/Cyber Monday–find any goodies? The neighbors who we usually celebrate Thanksgiving with went out of town this year, so I basically spent the whole weekend baking and fantasizing about what sorts of recipes I want to include on this site in December.
Oh yes, there will be cookies. 🙂
I mentioned last week that I got a new camera. It’s a Nikon D3400 and I am in love. It came as part of a bundle with a couple of lenses, a bag, a battery, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Apparently it’s considered a “starter” DSLR, which is crazy because I have no idea what I’m doing. Seriously, no idea. I’ve been looking at what other types of lenses I should get (since I hear that the stock lenses aren’t phenomenal) but so far I see a huge difference. With that being said, the photo quality of my next few posts are going to be all over the place as I learn how to use the camera. I hope you’ll be patient with me!
This mini 2-tier naked cake not only marks my last tutorial of November, but the last post with photographs taken with my old camera. I figure I should put that in bold in case you scroll down and think, “You got ripped off, babe.” 😛
I almost didn’t even post it (Bring on the good photo quality already!), but I figured why not. I made a few mistakes that others can learn from, so that in itself makes it worth something. 🙂 This cake began with one batch of Gretchen’s Bakery’s Vanilla Sponge Cake. Although her recipe calls for two 8-inch round tins, I was able to divide the batter into two 6-inich and 4-inch round tins (I used large tuna cans for the 4-inch pans). I think this will work for any cake recipe you want, but I’ll leave the actual mathematics of it up to the mathematicians. 😛
To start, you’ll want to level off the tops of each cake.
Then take the bottom layer and secure it to a cake board with some frosting before brushing on some simple syrup. Since naked cakes don’t have a thick layer of frosting to help retain their moisture, it’s crucial that you don’t skip this step! Simple syrup is just 1 part water to 1 part sugar that is simmered on top of the stove top and allowed to reduce for approximately five minutes.
Next I added a very thin layer of raspberry jam and a very thick layer of vanilla buttercream.
This is so that when I spread it out and put the next layer on, some of that frosting would ooze out of the sides and there would be no major air pockets between the layers.
After doing the same thing to the top tier and attaching it to the bottom tier with some buttercream, I used my bench scraper to push and scrape the excess frosting around the cake. Don’t worry, it’s actually supposed to look a little sloppy. That’s the beauty of it! If you’re interested in knowing what tools I find essential to cake decorating, you may find this post useful.
For some reason my top tier came out a lot more crumbly than my bottom tier. I think it had something to do with the amount of grease I used in the tin. I found it easier to switch to a small offset spatula. I then used this same spatula to dab buttercream in various spots and add some visual interest.
While the chilled in the refrigerator, I made my ganache! As always, I used a 3:1 white chocolate to cream ratio (by weight) and zapped it in the microwave in 30 second increments until nice and smooth.
At this point I should have waited 10-15 minutes for it to cool down and thicken up a bit. But no, into the piping back it went.
For this design I decided not to drip all the way around the cake like I usually do and instead dripped about 1/4th of the way around the top tier and 1/4th of the way around the bottom tier on the opposite side.
Then I made my liquid. This just consists of a dash of gold lust dust and the tiniest bit of vodka or lemon extract. The goal is to make the consistency more like paint than soup, so be very sparing with the liquid.
Now it was time to paint the drips. Here is where I ran into a couple issues. For one, the ganache drips were still way too soft and difficult to paint. I should have given them time to set. Secondly, I should have mixed a smidgen of brown and yellow food color into the ganache to give it a golden color before applying it on the cake. This would have done a better job concealing any spots that I missed with my paint brush.
Okay, so the drips are awful. HOW TO FIX!?! Flowers, of course. I place mine by sticking a straw into the cake and then the flower into the straw, like so.
I’m using carnations here. I got a gorgeously full bouquet of them for just $4. The buds included in the bunch make for a cute little accent.
And there you have it! A cake that would have looked infinitely better with my new fancy camera and some better drips 😛 But overall, it’s a pretty simple cake to make and it’s damn gorgeous when you get it right.
Until next time <3