Tall, dark, and handsome--this cake helped celebrate a friend's birthday over the weekend. And as the gentleman of honor is so known for his subtly and sophistication, it is only fitting that his cake exude a certain level of elegance as well. (if you are buying any of this, I have some beachfront property in Yuma to show you...)
The cake is a dark chocolate with American buttercream and red raspberry filling. It is finished with whipped chocolate ganache buttercream on the sides, and the top is finished with the same vanilla almond buttercream as in the filling. The scrolls are done freehand with a smooth dark chocolate ganache and the monogram is chocolate fondant.
This cake is the first quarter-sheet I have done in a while. Now that I have been introduced to the quality of professional bakeware, there was no way I could bake this cake in my standard 9 x 13 cake pan. Problem number one: the sides are slanted. This makes sense for the home baker; the sloped sides makes it easy for pans to nest inside each other when stored. But that slope on my pan was a half inch on each side. So the bottom measurements were 8 x 12! And with only a 2" side, I would have to bake and cut down two cakes to make the sides straight. I ended up buying a gorgeous Fat Daddio's 9" x 13" x 3" heavy aluminum pan. The sides are perfectly straight, but the inside edge has just enough of a radius to allow for a smooth release. And with the 3" height, I can bake to a dome, then shave off the top for a level cake that can split into two 1.5" layers. With filling and frosting, the cake topped out nearly at 4" high--a great proportion for a filled, quarter-sheet.
Of course with any new cake there is bound to be a learning curve. With the deeper 3" pan, I wasn't sure how much cake batter to fill up the pan to get a nice dome (and if my rich chocolate batter would be able to maintain it's integrity to do so). I ended up with a nicely baked cake, but upon cooling the center sank in a bit. I had used two flower nails and heating cores, but I don't think it was enough (going to research that one on cakecentral.com).
|A spackle of cake and chocolate ganache fills a sink in the center of cake.|
To solve this problem and to not loose any height, I broke out a some saved cake scraps (you know, what gets leveled off cakes) and made a spackle of it with some chocolate ganache. Just enough to fill in the center before I flipped the cake onto it's board and got it ready to torte and fill. I have found that lightly 'buttering' your cake layers with a thin layer of buttercream keeps the filings from soaking too far into the cake.
|Bottom layer with a buttercream dam on the edge to enclose the raspberry filling.|