Small amount of vegetable shortening and flour for preparing pans
Devil's Food Cake Batter:
¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¾ cup boiling water
½ cup cold water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
Tip: Use standard measuring cups and spoons or scales for accurate measuring.
Vanilla Butter Frosting:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar
2 tablespoons milk, plus additional if needed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 9 inch heart-shaped cake pans; lightly grease the pans with shortening and dust with flour. Use cake strips around the pan to help ensure the cake rises evenly for a fondant covered cake. Tip: Make a cake strip with a length of aluminum foil long enough to encircle the pan with a little overlap. Fold the strip lengthwise until it is 2 to 3 inches wide. Wrap the strip around the outside of the pan and secure it with a metal paper clip or tape.
Tips: If you have just one heart shaped pan, bake ½ of the batter, then cool, clean, regrease and redust the pan with flour before baking the second ½ of batter.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cocoa powder and boiling water. Stir to dissolve cocoa. Add cold water and vanilla; stir until thoroughly blended and smooth. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color.
With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the granulated sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 5 minutes to add all of the sugar, then add the brown sugar, taking an additional 3 to 4 minutes, beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugars, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed.
Tip: For each egg, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the creamed mixture. Start with the mixer on low speed so the liquid from the egg doesn’t splatter, once the egg is partially mixed increase the speed to medium. Each egg should be fully incorporated into the mixture before adding the next egg, taking about one minute to blend in each egg.
- With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the chocolate mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and chocolate mixture, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pans on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes then remove cake from the pans and place the cake on the wire cooling rack to finish cooling. Tip: if you have just one heart shaped pan, bake ½ of the batter, then cool, clean, regrease and redust the pan with flour before baking the second ½ of batter.
Vanilla Butter Frosting:
- In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer or wooden spoon and beat the butter and shortening untilsmooth. Add vanilla and beat until well mixed. Gradually add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture will appear dry after all the sugar has been added. Add 2 tablespoons of milk and beat until frosting is smooth, creamy, and fluffy. Add additional milk if necessary to make a good spreading consistency.
Assemble Cake Layers and First Crumb Coat:
- Trim and level each cake layer. For the top layer, slice off a small amount of the sharp edge to make a rounded edge forthe fondant. Secure the bottom layer of the cake to a cake board or cake plate; place about a tablespoon of frosting in the middle of the board or plate, center the cake and press the cake lightly into the frosting to adhere. Tip: Use a cake lifter to easily pick up and move the layers onto the cake board or cake plate.
- Using an offset spatula spread frosting about ¼ inch thick on the bottom layer. Place the second cake layer on top. Crumb coat the cake by covering the sides and top of the cake with a thin layer of frosting. Let the cake sit until the crumb coat is dried to the touch. At this point you can cover the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Tip: the crumb coat is a thin layer. Don’t worry if the cake shows through in places, it will be covered again with another crumb coat layer.
- Cover remaining frosting tightly with plastic wrap until ready to continue with cake, or cover tightly and refrigerate ifcompleting the following day.
Second Crumb Coat:
- The second crumb coat should be applied just prior to covering the cake with rolled fondant. Rewhip frosting to bring it back to a fluffy texture, adding a small amount of milk if necessary. Apply a second crumb coat by covering the sides and top of the cake with a thin layer of frosting over the first crumb coat. The second crumb coat will provide a sticky surface for the fondant to stick to.
- While the second crumb coat is still fresh and soft, cover the cake with rolled fondant. Decorate with cutout fondant decorations.
- Serve cake at room temperature. Cover loosely or place in a cardboard box with a cover, such as a cake box from a bakery. Store in a cool dry place.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Decorating List and Timeline:
I used the following decorating items and timeline to assemble and decorate the Pretty in Pink Cake:
3 pounds rolled fondant
Pink food coloring, such as deep pink
2 inch and 3inch heart shaped cookie cutters
¾ inch heart shaped cookie cutter
Small silver dragees
Clear alcohol such as vodka or gin or kirshwasser
Small artist paintbrush (for applying alcohol)
Straight edge ruler (a quilters ruler works well)
Make the fondant. Shape the fondant into a thick disk and rub a thin coating of shortening over the entire surface to keep the fondant from drying out. Wrap the fondant disc tightly in at least two layers of plastic wrap and then place in a resealable plastic bag or airtight container and store at room temperature to cure overnight.
I made one batch, 3 pounds, of Marshmallow Rolled Fondant for this cake, which was enough to cover the cake and make the decorations. I used about 2½ pounds total.
Leftover fondant can be wrapped tightly and stored for a future project.
Bake the cake. After the cake is cooled, cover and refrigerate overnight to tighten the crumb and firm up the cake.
Prepare the frosting. Assemble and fill the cake layers with frosting and apply the first frosting crumb coat. Let the crumb coat sit until dry and firm to the touch, at least 30 minutes, or place in the refrigerator to speed up the drying. Cover remaining frosting tightly with plastic wrap or place in an airtight container until ready to continue with cake.
First layer with filling Second Layer
Begin first crumb coat First crumb coat complete
Remove the cured fondant from the plastic and knead for several minutes to warm the fondant until it is pliable and smooth. You probably won’t need any vegetable shortening on the rolling surface for this kneading, however if it starts to stick use a little shortening on the rolling surface and your hands. If the fondant is stiff and difficult to knead, microwave for about 15 seconds to warm it up. If the fondant seems too dry you can knead a small amount of vegetable shortening in, or if it seems too sticky knead a small amount of powdered sugar or cornstarch in.
Tint about 2/3 of the fondant pale pink. Cover until ready to use.
Fondant tinted pale pink Second crumb coat
Apply the second crumb coat just prior to covering with fondant.
Roll the pale pink fondant 1/4 inch thick and cover the cake.
Fondant rolled 1/4 inch thick Place rolled fondant on cake
Fondant smoothed Fondant trimmed
Tint some of the remainder of the fondant a darker pink for the strips and cutout hearts, keeping a small portion pale pink and a portion white for some of the cutout hearts and in case you need it for any color changes.
Scraps tinted, one portion dark pink, one portion left pale pink, one portion left white
Roll the darker pink fondant into a rectangle about 18 inches long and at least 3 inches wide, and 1/16 inches thick for the strips. Use a ruler and pizza cutter to cut 8 to 9 strips about 18 inches long by ¼ inches wide. (Make sure and measure the top and sides of the cake to determine if 18 inches is the correct length.) Place one strip diagonally across the center of the cake and down the sides. Use the pizza cutter or a sharp knife to trim off extra. Rub a small amount of clear alcohol under each strip end and press gently against the cake to adhere. Place additional strips about 1 inch apart, trim off extra and adhere the ends with clear alcohol.
Place dark pink strips Dry cutout heart shapes
Set the cake aside, uncovered, until ready to finish decorating the following day, but do not refrigerate the cake at this point.
Roll out remaining fondant ¼ inch to ½ inch to make 3 or 4 large heart shapes for the top of the cake. Cut out several small ¾ inch hearts about 1/16 inch thick. Set aside and let all decorations dry overnight.
Place the large hearts on top of the cake; the large hearts don’t really need to be adhered to the cake, just sit on top. Press a silver dragee into each of the small hearts and randomly place on top of the strips, adhering with clear alcohol. Place leftover small hearts around the cake plate.
Your beautiful heart is finished and ready for your special Valentine.
Cake Decoration Inspired by: Barker, Alex, Essential Guide to Cake Decorating, Parragon, UK, 2010