17 August 2014

Celebration Cakes

One of the summer rotations is "Wedding and Celebration Cakes." It was my least favorite rotation, partly because I'm not very interested in fancy cake decorating, but especially since the French chef who usually teaches cake decor (and who is an expert; he's even made a six foot tall replica of the Eiffel Tower... in chocolate) was injured and had to take the last two weeks of the summer quarter off. We pretty much winged it on our own, with a little guidance from the replacement chef. My team (four of us) spent 3 days making a huge wedding cake, only to find that all the marzipan was used up, and our chosen decoration (marzipan ribbons and bows) could not be done in fondant. The cake did turn out to be tasty (almond cake with tart cherry jam and vanilla buttercream filling), but we resorted to decorating it with fresh flowers.

Almond Cherry Wedding Cake

Not bad looking if you don't examine it too closely, and it did sell very well by the slice so at least it wasn't a waste of time and ingredients. The part I enjoyed most on this project was that I got to make the tart cherry jam for the filling.

During the last 3 days of the rotation, we were allowed to build any "celebration cake" we wanted to make. Some people made fancy cakes from the same batter as the wedding cake, generally covered and decorated with fondant (one of my partners made a Despicable Me cake) but I decided to make something I thought would be good to eat (I think fondant is tasteless and sticky). I chose to make Carrot sponge cake, cut into four layers, with mascarpone-cream cheese filling spiked with orange zest and plain cream cheese buttercream frosting on the outside. To decorate it, I made a constellation of fondant stars...

Celebration Cake Stars

... though I ended up using only a few of them, as I decided to place the stars so they'd look good when the cake was cut. Here's the finished cake:

Celebration Cake

And here it is cut into slices:

Celebration Cake Slices

The slices sold for $2, except for two that I took home for myself and a friend to sample. The cake really was delicious, though if I made it for home, I'd leave it as two layers, and use the orange-mascarpone as both filling and frosting. The cake is very moist and doesn't need a huge amount of frosting. The orange zest and mascarpone were very good variations to the usual cream cheese frosting you find for this cake; they made the filling both lighter and tastier. Here is the cake recipe (based on one from my first quarter recipe packet).

Carrot sponge

Butter and lightly flour two 8 inch cake pans; line the bottom with parchment.
Preheat oven to 350F.

4 eggs
3/4 cup mild-tasting vegetable oil
14 ounces sugar
1/2 tsp salt
9 ounces bread flour
1 Tbsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 lb peeled carrots, grated finely
4 ounces chopped walnuts

Whip eggs until frothy, then gradually whip in the oil.
Mix in the sugar and salt (on low speed if using a mixer).
Sift the dry ingredients and add to the egg mixture.
Fold in the carrot and walnuts until evenly distributed.
Divide batter evenly between the cake pans and bake until done, about 40 minutes. Test doneness with a wooden toothpick or skewer; it should come out moist but not sticky. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out on a rack to cool completely before frosting.

Mascarpone Orange Frosting (recipe via Nigel Slater)

250 g (8.8 ounces) mascarpone
200 g (7 ounces) cream cheese
150 g (5.3 ounces) powdered sugar
zest of one orange, finely grated

Beat the cheeses and sugar in a mixer until smooth and creamy, then beat in the orange zest. This will make enough to fill two layers and cover the cake.


  1. The fondant stars make the cake beautiful, however in my opinion fondant is not edible. But what do I know...

    1. I agree! Fondant is powdered sugar with stuff added (corn syrup, glycerine) to allow it to be rolled out and molded over a cake. Flavor is not the point, it's just meant to be a smooth covering. Marzipan tastes much better - it too is powdered sugar and corn syrup, but it also has almond paste. Marzipan isn't used as much for wedding cakes because it is not pure white (due to the almonds) but it is a lot easier to mold into shapes than fondant.