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Huge birthday cake dillema..
Posted: 08 June 2011 11:13 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I was asked to make a cake for a guy friend’s birthday party and I’m having a dillema on decorating.

They asked for a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.  It’s a 30th birthday party, and they wanted a nostalgic cake.  They are also very discerning southerners… red velvet is very, very sacred here.


So far, I’ve decided to do 2 tiers, 10” and 12” square cakes.  I figure the cream cheese frosting would be obvious great, maybe some raspberries sitting ontop of piped rosettes around the border. I wanted to do some swag detail around the outside of the cake in a contrasting color.  Red is predictable with the raspberries, so I may do that, or I could do brown, chocolate or black. 

My dillema is this:  Since I want to decorate the outside with a swag, I’m having trouble deciding on what to do about the outside of the cake. 

-Should I use a buttercream on the outside and just fill the cake it with cream cheese? If so, mousseline, swiss, crusting?
-Should I attempt to swag colored cream cheese frosting on the cake instead?  I’ve never done this before, don’t know if it’s even possible.
-Should I do the swags in buttercream or royal icing?  (I think royal icing breaks down on that amount of fat, right?)
-I want to stay away from fondant because of the taste and texture, but should I just go for it so my cake and swags look better?
-Any opinions on color? I’d hate to do just white and red since it’s so predictable. 

I attached a drawing of what I think I want the cake to look like.  I appreciate your help!!

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Posted: 08 June 2011 11:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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If they want a nostalgic—which I am interpreting as old fashioned—cc frosting is already a lovely ivory color, and I think the swag would be beautiful in the same color, giving a textural contrast.  You could also add a small amount of chocolate (echoing the small amount of chocolate in the cake) to give the swag a slightly more yellowed, or light tan, appearance. 

Good luck!  Looking forward to seeing it, whatever you choose!

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Posted: 09 June 2011 03:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I would not do the swag in red because it might look Christmassy.  Or like a candy cane.  I prefer same color (white) swag.  Rose’s recipe doesn’t really have a chocolate taste at all.  But it is the most vividly red Red Velvet cake you will find.  The beauty of this cake is in the contrast between the white frosting and the red cake.  It’s also gorgeous when you coat it with one of the chocolate lacquers in RHC.  Simply gorgeous when sliced! You see the vivid red cake, white frosting, and shiny dark chocolate lacquer.  I made it that way for myself for Mother’s Day. wink

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Posted: 09 June 2011 07:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Here’s the design I came up with.  Hope it works!

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Posted: 09 June 2011 10:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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BakerJD - 09 June 2011 06:37 PM

I would not do the swag in red because it might look Christmassy.  Or like a candy cane.  I prefer same color (white) swag.  Rose’s recipe doesn’t really have a chocolate taste at all.  But it is the most vividly red Red Velvet cake you will find.  The beauty of this cake is in the contrast between the white frosting and the red cake.  It’s also gorgeous when you coat it with one of the chocolate lacquers in RHC.  Simply gorgeous when sliced! You see the vivid red cake, white frosting, and shiny dark chocolate lacquer.  I made it that way for myself for Mother’s Day. wink


I just looked up a lacquer recipe online and it looks soooo cool.  Did you use Rose’s white chocolate cream cheese frosting?  And, did the chocolate make the cake too sweet?

I have a recipe for a red velvet cake that they’ve tried before and loved, so I have to stick with that.  I posted a picture of one I made just a few days ago in the Show and Tell forum.


My biggest worry is that the cream cheese frosting will melt or sag because the one I use doesn’t form a crust.  But I don’t really know if a buttercream will be much better?  I’m open to suggestions, otherwise I’ll have to make a practice cake I suppose.

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Posted: 09 June 2011 10:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’ve used both Rose’s neoclassic and mousseline—as well as a cream cheese frosting of my own invention—and I’ve never had sagging problems, even though none formed crust.  I know that mousseline—and I think neoclassic—calls for some alcohol, so you can always leave out this extra liquid if you want a stiffer frosting.

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Posted: 09 June 2011 11:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Anne in NC - 10 June 2011 01:59 AM

I’ve used both Rose’s neoclassic and mousseline—as well as a cream cheese frosting of my own invention—and I’ve never had sagging problems, even though none formed crust.  I know that mousseline—and I think neoclassic—calls for some alcohol, so you can always leave out this extra liquid if you want a stiffer frosting.

I’m emailing them to see which they prefer… I did another mock-up of the same cake but with that chocolate lacquer….. Oooo….... the possibilities!

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Posted: 09 June 2011 11:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Yeah, the possibilities.  I fall asleep every night thinking of all the possibles for my next cake and how I can approach it.  It’s quite wonderful, isn’t???  I mean, these are the kind of dilemmas I love!!!

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Posted: 09 June 2011 11:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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It’s very cool, Anne. 

So they want the chocolate lacquer! 


What should I use in order to decorate the cake, royal icing?

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Posted: 10 June 2011 08:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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You could also consider, rather than piping, using those cool chocolate sticks that Rose uses up against the glaze.  It’s on one of the wedding cakes in the back of RHC.  Tres elegante!!!  Another thought is to rest chocolate leaves or real rose petals on the layers (or the ‘step’ of the bottom layer).

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Posted: 10 June 2011 06:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Now that she decided to go with the lacquer glaze, I’ll have to do some investigating on chocolate work.  I’ve done it before, but it’s something I’ll have to brush up on before I completely get to it. 

I did look up those chocolate cigarillos, but they’re sooo pricey! I think 150 run about $45, plus shipping.  I couldn’t even guess how many I’d have to buy.

I may just leave the cake sort of avant garde; a few swirls of white chocolate here, some made with transfer acetate and some plain.. maybe a few raspberries inbetween and a touch of gold leaf here and there.

I’m kind of relieved she decided to do the lacquer glaze, that way I can avoid piping!

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Posted: 10 June 2011 06:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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You could gently melt chocolate (over water etc), stir in sime unmelted to cool/temper and then, when it gets to a good point, pipe (or let it “run” on slightly wavy sticks, solidify and use.

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Posted: 11 June 2011 11:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Don’t use Royal icing on lacquer—it will break down.  I think mouselline would work, but the lacquer it is so lovely on its own, I’m not sure that you’d want to. 

I’ve had good luck thinning choc. with glycerine to write/drizzle chocolate.  Rose and Hector have used chocolate Les Perles frfom Valrhona for monograms…very elegant.  In Rose’s christmas cookies she has a recipe for a chocolate filling (?) that she pipes rosettes onto peanut butter cookies.  I’ve been meaning to try it for chocolate piping—ganache can be a nightmare (temp. variations wreak havoc on it)—since it worked so well when I made the cookies—it has a bit of sheen and is definitely lighter (in color) than the lacquer glaze.

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Posted: 14 June 2011 10:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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DouxHouse - 10 June 2011 01:18 AM
BakerJD - 09 June 2011 06:37 PM

I would not do the swag in red because it might look Christmassy.  Or like a candy cane.  I prefer same color (white) swag.  Rose’s recipe doesn’t really have a chocolate taste at all.  But it is the most vividly red Red Velvet cake you will find.  The beauty of this cake is in the contrast between the white frosting and the red cake.  It’s also gorgeous when you coat it with one of the chocolate lacquers in RHC.  Simply gorgeous when sliced! You see the vivid red cake, white frosting, and shiny dark chocolate lacquer.  I made it that way for myself for Mother’s Day. wink


I just looked up a lacquer recipe online and it looks soooo cool.  Did you use Rose’s white chocolate cream cheese frosting?  And, did the chocolate make the cake too sweet?

I have a recipe for a red velvet cake that they’ve tried before and loved, so I have to stick with that.  I posted a picture of one I made just a few days ago in the Show and Tell forum.


My biggest worry is that the cream cheese frosting will melt or sag because the one I use doesn’t form a crust.  But I don’t really know if a buttercream will be much better?  I’m open to suggestions, otherwise I’ll have to make a practice cake I suppose.

I am so sorry! I’ve been busy baking my son’s graduating cake and haven’t had a chance to come back here.  I see you are going with the lacquer concept.  It will be gorgeous!  I personally don’t like cream cheese icing, except on carrot cake, so I went with the vanilla mousseline.  I also used one of Rose’s lacquer recipes.  Don’t make the mistake I did though—I forgot to chill the cake before pouring the lacquer and it slid right off the cake.  Fortunately, I was able to collect it all in the foil and pour it back in the measuring cup.  I then chilled the cake and reheated the glaze before pouring.  Worked beautifully!  Since it was for myself, I decorated with a red piped rose.  My piping skills leave much to be desired though.  I actually prefer to decorate with a stiffer, confectioners sugar+butter icing.  I know, I know… Sacreligious here!

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Posted: 19 June 2011 02:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Thank you so much to everyone and your input!  Here’s the cake and all it’s glory. 


It was a HUGE hit! I didn’t use Rose’s red velvet recipe or cream cheese filling, but I used her vanilla mousseline and dark chocolate lacquer recipe.  I had people tell me it was the best cake they’ve ever eaten in their lives, to someone whose mother was a baker and said, “You know, I told you earlier that my mother is a baker, and I probably shouldn’t say this but your cake just made her cakes taste like garbage.”  I overheard a lot of expletives, moans and groans throughout the rooms of the house.

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Posted: 19 June 2011 02:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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More pictures

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