My goddaughter yearns for a wedding cake to serve 120 that exactly replicates a beloved old family recipe for spice layer cake. The proportions are different than the Cake Bible ones: main ingredients for two 8” layers are 3/4 cup butter, 1-1/2 cups sugar, 3 eggs, 1-3/4 cups flour, 3/4 cup buttermilk, 2 tbs cocoa powder. Can I just multiply or divide this for layers of 12, 9, and 6 inches if I use the Rose factor for leavening? Do I multiply the various spices and extracts exactly, or do they need adjustment? She also wants the traditional confectioner’s sugar/butter chocolate icing—does that work on a big cake? Any suggestions for decorating it?
My advice is to experiement with the extreme sizes. Do one 12-inch layer, and one 6-inch layer, using the Rose Factor and keeping your spices and extracts proportional. See if the texture and taste is what you want.
Your icing sounds as if it will work. I personally like confectioner’s sugar icing. Regarding the decoration, I can’t give you specific suggestions unless I know what season and theme we’re talking about. As a general rule, though, I think fresh flowers is the way to go.
Thanks—this is helpful. It’s a May wedding, but we haven’t gotten much farther than that—simple and casual, in a party space or loft of some kind, probably not a poofy dress. But I was more curious about what I could do with a chocolate confectioners’ sugar icing and what would go with it—I’m a neclassic buttercream girl myself and don’t even know if there will be problems with icing sliding or layers slipping, for instance.
My experience with confectioner’s sugar icing is that it will hold layers together. You could divide the experimental 12-inch layer in half and stack it with some of the icing, and see how well it holds. For a May wedding, I would personally go with a white or off-white icing, decorated with spring or early summer flowers. A chocolate exterior is something that I associate with fall or winter. It might work if you use daisies, or something spring-y like that. This is just my personal opinion. The final decision rests with the bride, of course.
I am certainly not a cake expert, but I think Christine’s idea of experimenting sounds like a very good suggestion indeed! If you run into problems along the way, by all means come back and ask. I know there are lots of folks here who will be glad to help.
A wedding cake made from a loved family cake recipe is a nice thing to do!!!
A guide to start is to compare the amount of baking powder Rose uses on her chart for a 8” cake to your original 8” cake. Find the ratio between Rose’s 8” cake and your 8” cake, then multiply this ratio for Rose’s 6” and 12” cake.
Also, I would start baking 25-50oF lower than your recipe, then once the cake has risen, increase the temperature. This is what bakeries do since mostly they have only 1 recipe, and they need to accommodate all sizes. Conversely, you can start with the original temperature, and keep and eye on the cake, if you see the cake rising too fast or too unevenly, immediately lower the temperature.
Here’s my $0.02, having recently made my my first (and possibly only!) wedding cake.
I made a spreadsheet of the ingredients vs the Rose Factor (RF) for the different sized pans I was using (6in, 9in, 12in rounds, plus a 12x18in sheet). I found it to be an indispensable aide in keeping track of everything, especially since I was making some major adjustments to be base recipe in The Cake Bible. (My cousin asked for a marble cake, so I had to figure out chocolate amounts to add, and convert the recipe from egg yolks to whole eggs).
Since most of the ingredients will be straight multiplication (except for the baking powder, where things get hairy), you can tweak one ingredient and the spreadsheet does the math. If you ever need to do a different sized cake, you can refer to the RF’s in The Cake Bible for the correct amounts.
Send me a private message and I can send you the spreadsheets I used for a marble cake. I’ve shared them with a few people here and haven’t heard about any disasters from someone using them
This may sound like heresy to most of you, but I think you can get away with not having to recalculate the leavening for this particular cake. I think one batch will fill a 12” round pan and have a bit left for a cupcake or two. Another batch can be made for filling three 6” pans, or try to fill one 9” and one 6” pan.
A pastry chef friend of mine has been doing this with recipes from various places (ones we got at school that are already scaled up for 20 or 40 qt mixer, scaling them down for home use) or from recipe sites (specifically the Guiness Stout cake from the epicurious site) and she has not had a single failure. So I’ve tried it a few times, and it works. She’s at sea level so if you are at an altitude, the surface tension on a bigger pan will cause a failure more than the leavening. (A smaller pan will bake fine, a larger pan may sink in the middle after baking. This happened to someone I know in New Mexico and I had never given the physics of baking a thought when he was trying to figure out the problem!
So, the next time you’re baking this recipe, try it in a 12” pan and see how it performs for you. If it doesn’t work, you can adjust the leavening (baking powder. Soda is probably used to balance the acidity of the batter, with the cocoa and buttermilk.)
I have to chime in a bit here, and go along with Jeanne to some extent… I’ve made many of Rose’s double layer cake recipes, but baked them in a a single layer (11x15 pan) without recalculating the baking powder - they always turn out fine.