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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

chocolate-vanilla-caramel cake.

You know that beautiful ruffle piping technique from Sweetapolita? Gorgeous, isn't it. She makes it look so easy. Martha Stewart too, and not to mention many other bloggers. But mine just didn't come out right. It's a downright monstrosity. P.S. You may want to cover your eyes for these few photos. 

My piping looks more like twisted ancient branches thanks to the colour of my caramel swiss meringue buttercream. I'm sorry to break your illusion that ruffle piping is a breeze. Maybe it really is, just that I did it wrongly. In fact, looking back, I've spotted some errors- I held my piping back almost 45 degrees instead of close to 90 degrees, i.e nearly parallel to the cake, and my buttercream was a little too soft.

Speaking of swiss meringue buttercream, I know it's supposed to curdle at one point after adding the butter but strangely enough, mine didn't. Perhaps my butter was too soft and mushy to begin with? And since we're on the subject of frostings, please listen to me on this- never use a thick layer of seven minute frosting to fill your cakes. It just doesn't hold up well, and within a day it will start to release water, causing your layers to slip and slide. Trust me, I know.

i put maltesers in there too!
I used the same chocolate and vanilla layers as my neapolitan cake because I had some frozen leftovers after just using half. The point of making this cake was to try out that ruffle piping but as you can see, it was a terrible flop. I'll try again for sure. I've never made SMB before and I love working with it! It's smooth and silky, not too sweet and pipes like a dream. Not to mention it's wonderful ability to incorporate larger amounts of liquid. This caramel version is from Martha Stewart, and I tweaked it a little, basically reducing the amount of butter so that it's just lightly buttery because I've never been a fan of buttercreams where the butter is so prominent it oils your mouth. I like this ratio of 1 egg white to 1 stick of butter.

Oh, and I still like the chocolate layer better.

Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream
from Martha Stewart

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
6 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces *I would use 3 sticks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Make caramel: Pour 1/4 cup water into a medium heavy-bottom saucepan. Add 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and syrup is clear. Continue to cook, without stirring, until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush two or three times to prevent crystals from forming. Let syrup boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until syrup is dark amber.

Immediately remove from heat; carefully pour in cream (caramel will bubble vigorously). Stir caramel until smooth. Transfer to a bowl; let cool.

Whisk together remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, the egg whites, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water; whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture registers 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Return bowl to mixer; fit mixer with whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff. Reduce speed to medium low; add butter, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue whisking until smooth.

Switch to paddle attachment. Add caramel and vanilla; beat on lowest speed until combined, 3 to 5 minutes.

Linked to These Chicks Cooked, Sweet Treats Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday, Sweet Indulgences Sunday.


  1. I feel your pain! I do not have the knack to pipe frosting on anything. I've had to accept that it's just not my thing. But, the cake does look delicious. I would love to have a piece of your failure! ;)

  2. I would certainly eat it! Yummey.

  3. What a beautiful cake. I would like to invite you to join us at Full Plate Thursday this week. Thank you for sharing and have a wonderful day!
    Miz Helen

  4. I am so excited that you brought your special cake to share with us today. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and come back soon. I am your newest follower. Have a great week end!
    Miz Helen

  5. This still looks delicious to me. I'd like to invite you to share this recipe on A Well-Seasoned Life's Sweet Indulgences Sunday.


  6. Well, we all have our flops now and then. I've been eyeing all those gorgeous ruffle cakes too. I can imagine that it might take some work to master the technique. Thanks for sharing your recipe :)

  7. this makes me feel so good! im so happy to know im not the only one who epically sucks at ruffles! it still looks so delicious!