Can you hear them? I think probably not. What you might actually be hearing is the sound of me careening through the kitchen with a frosting spatula, my hand blender, and a hacksaw. Yes, a hacksaw. To ease your mounting concern that the focus of this blog has shifted to a crusade against heresy in the 12th century, I should say up front that the hacksaw was to cut wooden cake dowels which were used in the attempted construction of a tiered cake. A wedding cake! Surprise! I got married.
When my boyfriend proposed that we marry, we immediately agreed that it would be done without much fanfare. We wanted to keep it simple: city hall, parents only, no reception, casual dinner afterward at our favorite place down the street. But there was one thing I was not willing to negotiate on: cake. I had to have a cake! After much deliberation, I decided on a blackberry buttermilk cake with chambord buttercream frosting and coconut sprinkles.
I had never attempted to construct a tiered cake before and frankly it was daunting. I readied myself with cake boards, parchment rounds, an assortment of baking pans, and of course, the aforementioned dowels and hacksaw. Approximately 9 hours and 16 sticks of butter later I found myself in some trouble. Not only were the proportions of the cake completely ridiculous looking (since my base layer was only an 8″ round, having 4 layers on the first tier, 2 layers on the 6″ middle tier, and 2 more layers on the 4″ top tier, made for a freakishly tall and narrow structure,) but my frosting was also a mess. The buttercream remained a broken emulsion that I couldn’t figure out how to hold together. And adding to the queue of problems that required troubleshooting, the cake just wouldn’t stand upright no matter how many dowels I attempted to employ for support. Ugh!
Solutions? I ditched the idea of stacking the cakes. Yes, it was super tragic because my heart was really set on a traditionally matrimonial look, but I knew the cake tasted amazing and I wanted to present it in the best possible light. A leaning, lopsided, wavering 10 layers of dessert does not achieve this!
As for the frosting, I started from scratch, thinking that perhaps I had added the sugar too quickly while beating the butter into a cream. No such luck, the consistency still wasn’t right so I added cream cheese which did the trick of pulling the frosting together into a smooth and creamy mixture with a good taste. The downside to this maneuver was a frosting that was rather heavy and wet, which made applying it to the cake somewhat tricky. Does anyone have any tips for making the perfect buttercream frosting?
In the end the cake tasted amazing. The fresh blackberries baked into the cake added bursts of flavor throughout. The frosting, although not the texture I originally envisioned, looked pretty (the pink coloring is from a small amount of cranberry juice, not food coloring!) and tasted great. This cake was a labor of love and even with its tribulations was worth the experience. I’m sure I’ll try my hand at another tiered cake in the future, after I’ve had time to recover!