Remember that special baking project I have been working on? Well, here it is – the ultimate baking challenge. I must admit, I cheated a little, this was a miniature version – but challenging enough for me. So, who could have been special enough to even attempt this? Let me explain…
Almost 16 years ago, my husband (then fiance) moved to Seattle from Denver. We moved here knowing one person from college, but we both landed jobs here, and Seattle had mountains and water. My husband was working on his thesis at the time, and decided to take a break and go down the street to a yard sale that our neighbor was having. There he met another neighbor, who happily introduced herself, so curious to find out who had bought their friend’s house. A couple of days later, she called us and invited us over for dinner – unfortunately we had plans that evening, so she asked about the following weekend. My husband explained that we were busy that weekend also – we were flying back east to get married. She immediately asked if there was anything she could do to help while we were away, take in the mail, maybe look for packages? Her son walked right by our house on his way home from school, and she could have him check. We graciously accepted, not really knowing her at all. Little did we know that we would not just get a few packages, but most of our wedding presents would be sent to us.
When we got home, we drove up to their house – and the woman looked at us confused. She had never seen me before, and only met my husband very briefly – and was so pleased when we told her who we were. She told us they felt like we were old friends, she had a basement full of wedding gifts for us. They started putting them in the front hall closet, but once that was full, they moved them all to the basement. We couldn’t believe all the trouble these people went through for us, and we didn’t even know them! We met her husband, and their two sons, who were about 10 and 11 at the time. They were so nice and welcoming – and from then on, we became family to them. There have been good times and hard times, in fact they are no strangers to my blog. We watched their children grow up – and when their youngest son came home from college with his girlfriend for the summer, she lived with us. When they got engaged, they asked our daughters to be in the wedding, and I was so touched. So when they were talking about desserts for their wedding, and how she wanted a mini-wedding cake – I offered to make it for her. It was the least I could do. I can’t wait to watch them grow as a married couple…and we are so fortunate to have them in our lives. Congratulations J&R!!
This cake comes from the Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, and the frosting is my stand-by Cream Cheese Frosting that I use in many of my recipes, but I had to really create the entire template and decorations myself. I will do my best to try and explain what I did below…
12 large egg yolks
- 2 cups milk
- 4 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 6 cups sifted cake flour
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 sticks unsalted butter (must be softened)
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 10 tablespoons butter, softened
- 8 teaspoons non-fat buttermilk
- 2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, softened
- 7 cups powdered sugar (about 2 pounds)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Before I start on the instructions – my kitchen-aid mixer was not big enough to make the cake batter in one batch, so I cut this recipe and half, and made it twice. I also cooked the cakes in stages. I had some leftover batter, so in case one of the layers doesn’t come out the way you like it, you have some extra. I used the following size pans (and then cut them down): 8″, 5″, 3″. I then cut them down to 7″, 4.5″, 2.25″. Each tier was two layers. I found that was the best way to do it, so you could completely control how big the tiers were. I also cut a 4.5″ diameter cardboard piece (that I bought in the cake store) to be in between the bottom and middle tiers. I took a straw and cut it down to be the same height as the bottom tier, and placed four straws for the cardboard to sit on, then placed the second tier on that. I didn’t think the cardboard was necessary for the top-tier, but I did put a straw in the top and middle tiers, to keep the top from falling off. I bought small candy pearls to decorate the sides of the cakes, and piped frosting in pearl shapes in between each tier. You will have a lot of leftover frosting, and I took some with me to the wedding, just in case I had to touch up anything. If you decide to attempt this, and have questions – please don’t hesitate to email me.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a medium bowl lightly combine the yolks, 1/2 cup milk, and vanilla.
In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk. Mix on low-speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high-speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.
Cut out a piece of parchment to fit perfectly on the bottom of the pans. Butter the pans first without the parchment, place the parchment on the bottom, then butter and flour the pans. Fill the batter up around 1/2 way and cook the cakes until they are golden and a toothpick inserted in comes out clean. This will be different depending on the size of the layer, so you really need to watch them so they don’t burn.
Let the cakes cool in the pan on racks for 10 minutes, then turn them over onto a cooling rack, and let them completely cool.
I then wrapped the cakes in plastic and froze the cakes until the day of the wedding and let them defrost on the counter completely before starting to frost.
To prepare frosting, beat 10 tablespoons butter, 8 teaspoons nonfat buttermilk, and cream cheese with a mixer at high-speed until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar; beat until smooth. Add 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla; beat well.
For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Miniature Wedding Cake