Saturday, February 20, 2016

Frozen Princess Elsa Layer Cake {Vanilla Sponge Cake, Chocolate Cake, White Chocolate Ganache, & Swiss Meringue Buttercream}

I recently made this Frozen Princess Elsa layer cake for my niece's 2nd birthday and I was really excited about how beautiful it came out.  I shared all of the details and exact recipes that I used below, but what I really wanted to share this time was the general overall concept of this cake.  You could make this cake with any flavor of cake, any filling, or any frosting recipe that you prefer.  Actually speaking of that, if anyone has a foolproof, moist, tender, delicious vanilla cake recipe, please share it with me! I have been on the hunt for the perfect vanilla cake for a long time and this recipe was good but didn't fit 100% with what I am looking for.  Anyways, I just loved how the appearance of this cake came out with the pretty teal buttercream and the contrasting white snow/ice details.  I think the stars piped along the bottom gave the cake a cute ruffly, party dress look that was very sweet and girly, plus the border of white dots almost resembled a strand of big, beautiful pearls for an extra bit of elegance.  Don't skip the dusting of edible glitter or sanding sugar (which you can't see very well in the picture) because it adds that lovely sparkle of freshly fallen snow glistening in the sunlight that everyone loves!

I absolutely love when I am given the opportunity to make a special cake for a family member or friend, even though my husband would probably tell you differently!  I tend to get myself a little worked up during the process of just about every cake that I have ever made, but in the end it is all part of the fun.  Even if I end up having to re-make the entire giant batch of buttercream because for some unknown reason the first batch completely imploded, every minute of making the cake is worth it; all for that smile and happiness that comes along with first seeing the finished product or taking the first delicious bite!  Being able to create something special to share with the people I love is a truly wonderful feeling and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to do so :)

Vanilla Sponge Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
7 eggs, separated
1 cup cold water
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 325F. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together until evenly combined.  Stir in the vegetable oil, vanilla extract, egg yolks, and water until the wet ingredients are incorporated into the dry ingredients.  In a separate, very clean bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.  Stir about 1/3 of the egg whites into the cake batter, to begin lightening the mixture.  Carefully fold the rest of the egg whites through the cake batter until you can no longer see any streaks of white.   Divide the batter into two 8" cake pans that have been greased and lined with parchment circles.  Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Let the cakes rest in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes, run a knife around the outer edge of the cake, and then turn out onto wire cooling racks to cool completely.
Inspired by How To Cook That

Chocolate Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp instant espresso powder (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F.  In a medium bowl, stir together the first six, dry ingredients and then stir in the remaining wet ingredients until no large lumps remain.  Divide the batter into two 6" cake pans that have been greased and lined with parchment circles.  Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in the pans for a few minutes and then turn out on to wire rack to cool completely.
Inspired by Movita Beaucoup

White Chocolate Ganache
2 cups heavy cream
3 cups good quality white chocolate, chopped

Heat the heavy cream to a simmer over low heat, remove from the heat, and stir in the white chocolate.  Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes and then stir well until everything is combined.  Alternatively, you can heat the cream in the microwave and then stir in the chocolate.  You may need to briefly reheat in the microwave (20 seconds at a time) to get the chocolate completely melted.  Let the ganache cool to room temperature or can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.  Once the ganache is cooled, use an electric mixer to whip the ganache until soft peaks form.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
10 large egg whites
2 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
3 cups (6 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 tbsp vanilla extract

Add the egg whites and sugar to the (very clean) bowl of an electric stand mixer. Place the bowl over a pot with about 1 inch of simmering water (like a double boiler set up) and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot (about 140°F if you have a candy thermometer.) Place the bowl back on the base of your stand mixer and beat the egg whites on medium-high speed with the whisk attachment until the mixture is glossy, thick, and the outside of the bowl has cooled to room temperature. This will likely take at least 10 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment, turn the mixer on to low speed, and begin adding small cubes of the butter, one at a time, until each is incorporated. I waited between 5 and 10 seconds between adding each cube of butter. Don't worry if the mixture curdles or starts to look a little soupy, just keep mixing until it comes together into a smooth, silky consistency. Stop and refrigerate the buttercream for about 15 minutes if it really starts looking soupy and then continue to beat. Add the vanilla and salt and mix to incorporate. Remove about 1 cup of the buttercream to a separate bowl to keep white and color the remaining buttercream with teal gel food color.

Cake Assembly

1 cup strawberry or raspberry jam (optional)
Sanding sugar, or other edible glitter

I like to bake my cakes at least one day before the party and once they are cooled, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them until I am ready to decorate. I find that working with frozen cake is much easier, especially if you are cutting your cakes into more layers. The cakes thaw really quickly, so by the time you are done decorating, the whole cake is thawed and ready to eat!

Cut each of your cakes in half, so that you have four layers of sponge cake and four layers of chocolate cake. Place a dollop of buttercream on your cake board or plate and place your first layer of sponge cake down. Frost this layer with white chocolate ganache. I also added a layer of strawberry jam here too for additional flavor (optional). Repeat this process until all the layers of sponge cake are stacked up. Frost the outside of the cake with a thin layer of teal buttercream (crumb coat) and place this in the fridge to set while you work on the chocolate layer. Place the first round of chocolate cake on a 6" cake circle or cardboard covered in aluminum foil. Spread a layer of white chocolate ganache on the cake and continue until you have all of the layers stacked up. Frost the outside of the cake with a thin coat of teal buttercream. Remove the sponge cake from the fridge and place the chocolate cake on top of the sponge cake, right in the center. Frost the entire cake with teal buttercream and smooth it out as best as you can. Add several rows of teal stars around the bottom of the cake using a piping bag fitted with a star tip (I used a Wilton 2d). Place the white buttercream in a separate bag fitted with a round tip (I used Wilton #12) and pipe small dots around the bottom border of the chocolate cake. For the top of the cake, I started in the center and piped lines of frosting, out cascading over the edge, in a random pattern to create the look of icicles. I sprinkled the cake with a dusting of edible glitter to give it a little extra sparkle and topped it off with an Elsa figurine.