Caking It to College
Well hello friends :)
As school is fast approaching, and summer is coming to a brisk end, I wanted to showcase a cake of mine that I made just about a week ago. Throughout this post, I’ll be showing how I created this cake, as well as some techniques that I’ve learned since I’ve been in pastry school. Alongside that, I will make sure to include the links to the recipes that I used for this project.
This past year, I technically graduated high school…although I started college early. Weird, I know. Anyways, I consider my senior class to be the people that have been walking alongside me in youth group. If I’m being completely honest, these people will always be a part of my life. Within this past week, I’ve had 4 people from church go off to college, and 4 others from high school head off to school as well. Needless to say, it’s been a very emotional week.
On Sunday, Audrey turned 18 (finalllyyyyy), and I had the honor of making a cake for her last Thursday as her birthday/off-to-college cake. This post is showcasing that cake, as I had never made a cake with fruit before. So without further ado, here’s last week’s cake!
(links to recipes will be included down below)
2 9” round cakes, vanilla
1 batch vanilla buttercream
½-1 pound fresh strawberries
½ pound fresh blueberries
Large straight spatula
10”-12” cake board
Large piping bag
Ateco star tip #823
Small straight spatula (optional)
Turntable (optional, but preferred)
Chocolate for piping (optional)
My first step was to wash and dry all of the fresh fruit. With all the pesticides and dirt on all of our produce lately, I thoroughly washed the fruit with cold water and some white distilled vinegar (optional).
I had made my cakes the night before, let them cool, then plastic wrapped and froze them. By doing so, it keeps the crumbs from falling off when decorating. The cake defrosts over time, so you won’t be eating frozen chunks of cake!
I then made sure to set up all of my materials to get started with the decorating process.
I began by taking my large straight spatula and frosting the top of one of my cake layers.
This one happened to be a little sunken in, so I decided to fill the divot with some of my strawberries, just diced up a little bit.
Once the icing was smooth and the strawberries were sprinkled on, I used my small straight spatula to spread a thin layer of icing over them. This just helps the second layer of cake adhere to the bottom layer.
I then placed the second layer of cake on top, but upside down. By doing this, it ensure a nice flat work surface to spread the buttercream onto.
Once the cakes were aligned and even, I took large dollops of buttercream and placed them on top of the cake, and smaller amounts on the sides. The goal here is to get all spots of the cake COMPLETELY covered with buttercream in an even, yet excessive amount. We can even and smooth the buttercream later!
Now that the cake is covered, we need to smooth it out….unless you want to be “rustic” with it!
Using my clean bench scraper, I held it at a 90 degree angle against the cake, applying a small and even amount of pressure. This is where the turntable will be useful! Apply the same amount of pressure while spinning the cake, not moving your hand. This should make fairly smooth sides.
(if there are spots peeking through, use the small spatula to cover them. Re-smooth with the bench scraper.)
Now to smooth the top: clean off your bench scraper, and hold it almost completely horizontal. The small angle you hold it at will help pull icing in from the edges. Apply light pressure with the edge of the bench scraper, and pull from the outside towards the center. Smooth completely.
Now…..decorating time! Usually I refrigerate my cakes before I decorate, but by not chilling my cakes, I ensure that all the fruit will stay adhered to my cake.
I fitted my piping bag with Ateco tip #823 and filled with my buttercream. While slowly spinning the turntable, I applied even pressure to the piping bag and piped a star border, but extended the tails. I guess it kind of looked like waves along the sides!
Once the border was piped, I placed 7 strawberries evenly around the cake. Just play it by eye, and do what looks best to you (that’s pretty much what I did!).
Fill in the spaces between with your blueberries, but don’t fill in the center. The center is where you’ll be able to pipe a message or design.
I also made the last-minute decision to place blueberries in between each of the stars I piped along the bottom border.
I was being a wimp, and decided not to pipe directly onto the cake. I was kind of in a time crunch, and wouldn’t have had time to fix the cake if I messed up my piping. What I did do, is melt down a little bit of almond bark (doesn’t actually contain almonds) and poured it onto a small round plate that was lined with parchment. I stuck that in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
While that was freezing, I melted down some white chocolate chips and poured it into a small piping bag. I cut off a very very VERY small piece of the tip of the bag and placed to the side. I pulled the chocolate circle out of the freezer and piping my message onto it in white chocolate and let it cool.
I placed the final piece of chocolate onto the cake, and I was done!
Yes, I am very much aware that my piping sucks. Please, tell me something I don’t know :))
Overall, I’m very surprised with how well this cake turned out considering I have never made one like it before. I mean….everyone ate it!
(And lucky for me, there was enough fruit leftover for me to have for lunch!)
I hope you enjoyed this first pastry post; there’s definitely more to come!
Love, prayers, and caffeine
Classic Vanilla Cake
(I didn't use their buttercream recipe)
Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe