Today is my 2nd Blogoversary and I thought a cake was in order. This is no ordinary cake though. This cake was made in memory of my son Sam's 3rd birthday in addition to Tin Roof Ice Cream I made in August.
I chose a stunning checkerboard cake from Sky High Cakes. You need a special cake pan to make this cake. I got mine off of Craigslist and it's made by Pampered Chef, but you can get your from Amazon. Anyway, the set includes 3 9-inch nonstick pans and a plastic insert that looks like a bulls eye. This allows you to color the different layers so that when you stack and cut into the cake it looks like a checkerboard pattern.
I decorated the pure white cake by adding another layer of thickened chocolate ganache. I also made a couple butterflies and a dragonfly to place on the cake. Dragonflies and butterflies have always reminded me of my boys because when we went to the cemetery to pick the perfect spot to lay him to rest, there were TONS of dragonflies and butterflies fluttering around. Now when I think of one, I think of the other. You can learn how to make them by picking up a copy of Hello Cupcake!
I only had one issue with this cake and it was completely my fault- I forgot to grease the pans! And I didn't realize it until after I filled them- doh! Believe me, many prayers were said throughout the process and thankfully they came out just fine. This cake has to be my all time favorite as far as looks go. I just thought it was so pretty and simple, yet the interior was a whole other dramatic surprise. It was a lot of work, but my son is so worth it. I hope I made him proud.
Black & White Checkerboard Cakefrom Sky High
Makes 1 8 or 9-inch 3 layer cake
- 3 cups cake flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, room temp.
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 4 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
- 2 oz. white chocolate, melted and cooled
- Semisweet Ganache (recipe follows)
- White Chocolate Buttercream (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 3 checkerboard cake pans, 8 or 9 inches in diameter. Line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and 1 cup of the buttermilk and beat just until combined and evenly moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk, and vanilla. Add to the batter in 2 or 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating only until incorporated after each addition; do not overmix.
To make the dark chocolate batter, whisk 1 cup of the vanilla batter into the melted unsweetened chocolate, then gently whisk in another 3 cups batter.
For the white batter, whisk 1 cup of the vanilla batter into the melted white chocolate and whisk back into the remaining vanilla batter in the bowl as gently as possible. Using the dividers provided in the set and 2 14-inch pastry bags fitted with plain 3/8-inch tips (I used Ziploc bags for this), fill the pans about half full. The cakes will rise to the top when done. You'll need 2 layers with dark chocolate rings each and 1 layer with 2 vanilla rings.
Makes 1 cup
- 6 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream to a simmer, pour over the chocolate, and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth.
White Chocolate Buttercream
Makes about 5 cups
- 3 egg whites
- 4 oz. good quality white chocolate
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 sticks (12 oz.) unsalted butter, room temp.
Put the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and set the mixer up for use. Melt the white chocolate about halfway in a double boiler over simmering water. Remove from the heat, stir until smooth, and set aside to cool.
Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan. Set over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage; 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Immediately start beating the egg whites on medium-low speed. Slowly add the syrup in a thin stream, taking care not to hit the beaters. Continue to whip until the mixture is body temperature and a stiff meringue has formed.
Reduce the speed to low and add the butter 2-3 tablespoons at a time. When all of the butter is incorporated, beat on medium speed until the frosting appears to curdle. Continue to whip, and it will suddenly come together. At this point, add the melted white chocolate and mix well.
To Assemble the Cake:
Place one of the layers with 2 chocolate rings on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spoon half of the semisweet ganache onto the cake and spread it evenly over the layer, leaving a generous 1/4-inch margin around the edges. Place the only layer with 2 vanilla rings onto the cake (this is the middle layer). Spread the remaining ganache over this layer, again leaving a 1/4-inch margin. Top with the final cake layer, aligning the sides carefully so that the pattern will be successful. To make frosting easier, you may want to refrigerate the cake briefly to allow the ganache to set up first.
Frost the sides and top with the white chocolate buttercream, carefully smoothing out the frosting.
NOTE: I added another layer of thickened ganache to the top of the cake. This is not part of the recipe.
And because gifts are nice to receive on birthdays, I'm going to be giving away 2 of the items below to get your holiday baking off to a good start.
2 winnerswill receive a Holiday Baking Pack from McCormick. The pack includes a full size bottle of vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and 2 smaller containers of ground nutmeg and ginger, as well as a recipe booklet. And because they seem to be difficult to find on some areas I'm also including a bag of Hershey's Cinnamon Chips.
You have until Tuesday, November 10th to leave me a comment on this post telling me about your most memorable birthday. I want details people! Tell me about the cake, the atmosphere, how old you were, what made it so special.
One comment per person please. Giveaway open to the USA and Canada. Extraneous comments will be deleted. Winners will be chosen by Random Number Generator and anncounced next Wednesday. Good luck.