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The Right Frosting


SusanGiff
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I am dizzy from searching the archives. Here's the situation: My neighbor believes I am a better baker than I am, and has asked me to provide the cake(s) for her twin sons' bar mitzvahs next weekend. Flattering pressure, right? Because they're twins, I've made my own life easier by offering to make two cakes. I'm figuring two 12-inch round two-layer cakes will be sufficient for 60 people, no? Please correct me if they should be larger.

I'm keeping this simple as well by just baking chocolate cakes, and have settled on the truly delicious eGullet tweaked version of Epicurious's double chocolate cake (thank you, thank you to the Michelle who did the tweaking back in '04).

But I'm not sure what to frost with. I'm considering the lighter whipped ganache that's been mentioned in a few threads, and perhaps putting a vanilla buttercream or Dorie's marshmallowy frosting between the layers.

Ideally, though, I'd like to frost and decorate the night before the ceremony and refrigerate until the morning, when I'll bring the cakes across the street (the ceremony's at home). That should give them plenty of time to warm up to room temperature, but will it work? Or will the whipped ganache get all hard and nasty? Is there an alternative to the ganache? If I have to, I'll frost the whole thing in the morning, but I'll have to get up mighty early, since I'm a guest and things start at 10:30.

Help!! Please.

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I'll let some others talk frosting with you. The sizes...You're saying that one 12" will feed 30 people. Here's how my mind wraps around this question. That means 15 people for one half of a cake. 7 for a quarter. Can you cut 7 pieces out of a quarter of a cake? Seems a wee bit small to me. There's not only the question of mass, but physically, can you cut that many pieces out without totally manging it? There's a great thread on cutting (cold cake, hot water, sharp blade). I would feel better with a sheetcake for easy serving, and the 2 rounds for glitz and glamor.

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I'm not going to try to play icing expert either, cake isn't my specialty (actually, I'm not sure anything is my specialty... but that's another topic) but I agree with Rob that you'd be making life a lot easier for yourself if you made a nicely decorated display cake and had some sheet cakes behind the scenes to plate.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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You can get 40 to 56 servings per 12" cake. If these are two layer cakes you'll be fine with that size.

My all time favorite chocolate frosting is the one on the Hershey's cocoa can. It does crust some but not like a rock or anything. I mix it a little different where I combine the sugar and cocoa then cream in the butter and then add the liquid. But you can make it exactly as written too. No worries. It's incredibly wonderful. Will refrigerate with no problems.

Ganache will work too. It comes to room temp just fine.

I like your plan of having them finished the night before. Make sure you have room in the frige.

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buttercream or ganache will work well. If you want to have more of a contrast, do a meringue-based buttercream; for more tone-on-tone and chocolate flavor, do a ganache buerre. I'd do one of both so guests would have a choice, or switch inside and outside for the two cakes... but I'm known for making life harder than it has to be.:D

Both will refrigerate nicely, and hold up for the duration of the party.

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The whipped ganache will hold up fine overnight in the fridge. However, depending on how stable your recipe is and how you build your cake, you may experience some sliding around if frosted between the layers. A buttercream would be much more stable in that respect.

Having said that, I would pick a whipped ganache over a buttercream any day, for a moist/dense chocolate cake like the double chocolate cake.

In terms of portions, you might also want to weigh your cake layers and figure on a rough estimate of xxx grams per person.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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i think you're right to go in the direction of buttercream or ganache...depending on what you like flavorwise. if you do dark choco ganache, it will be a very truffley-rich cake...perhaps too grown up for the young lads at the party. however, you could do a milk choco ganache that might be just what the boys want...just be sure to adjust your cream/milk chocolate ratio for the milk chocolate.

perhaps a vanilla buttercream for the other? I wouldn't do marshmallow b/c it can be very tempermental and may not stand up to frosting in advance. it sound fabulous though...maybe you should try it on your own time ;)

are the cakes going to be double-layer. if so, 2 will be plenty for 60 people...to double check, draw a 12" circle and roughly divide it into 24, and you'll see how big the slices will be. however, if you have two different cakes, the kids are going to want a slice of each, so you might want to have a little extra cake as backup.

Stephanie Crocker

Sugar Bakery + Cafe

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Wow! Thanks, everybody. This is quite helpful. Re: the following, I do have some questions:

i think you're right to go in the direction of buttercream or ganache...depending on what you like flavorwise. if you do dark choco ganache, it will be a very truffley-rich cake...perhaps too grown up for the young lads at the party. however, you could do a milk choco ganache that might be just what the boys want...just be sure to adjust your cream/milk chocolate ratio for the milk chocolate.

This is exactly what I was thinking--that ganache would be too grown-up. But messing with the cream/milk chocolate ratios is way beyond me. Is there a formula, or, even better, a milk chocolate ganache recipe someone likes? Alternatively, would the whipped ganache be less rich somehow, or is that just a head game I'm playing?

K8, I'm going to check out the Hershey's box recipe, too; I'd already made a note to myself to do so, based on one of your responses on an earlier thread.

Sugarseattle, it never occurred to me kids might want a slice of each if they're different! Shoot. Maybe I better not offer options after all.

Yes, the cakes will be double-layer.

Thanks again,

Susan

Edited by SusanGiff (log)
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if you're making either a buttercream or a ganache based frosting for the cake, neither one really needs to be refrigerated overnight. if you're making them the night before, the flavors will marry better if left out (covered, of course) at room temp (as long as your kitchen isn't 90F). just make sure that all components are room temp safe.

for 12 inch cakes, depending on your oven, you shouldn't need a heating core or nail. some people really recommend magic-strips which will help keep the cake from doming.

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I stick a folded aluminum foil thingy in the middle of most everything I bake these days. In larger cakes I happily put multiples. ***It's described here, scroll to the fourth picture. It's so easy. I spray them with pan grease so they slide out easy. It does leave a little opening but it helps things bake so much better. It's worth the side effect hole to me. If the hole gets carried away for some reason, I just tame it with a squirt of icing piped in there.

Love magic strips. I'm old fashioned, I still sometimes use the terry cloth toweling. Sometimes I just bake a cake an inch too big and trim off the edges.

***Edited to say: Ruh roh, the link didn't work exactly. It's in the 12th post down in that thread then the fourth picture. fwiw.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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I'll see if I can find it for you. It's somewhere deep in the "Best Chocolate Cake" thread from a while back, and the specific post is literally from 2004. I printed it out immediately because I knew I'd never find it again. If I really can't, I'll just type it up here.

I should tell you that I've never tried the un-tweaked Double Chocolate Cake, which seems to be very popular and might work just as well. But I'm sticking with this one!

Thanks again, y'all.

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I would avoid offering more than one flavor. More than just the kids will want a piece of each. Many of the adults will also.

Also, slicing: its pretty hard to slice and serve a skinny section of a doubledecker cake. Even if the surface area math works out, its hard to do. You may want to practice. Or choose a different geometry. Or make tiers.

Re sliding - you could always anchor the cakes with 3-4 bamboo skewers after they are assembled. Put the skewers near the center, mark their location with some kind of decor, and make sure those who cut know where they are located, to remove them at need.

Whatever you do, you know its going to be delicious and that is the key thing. :smile:

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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if you're making either a buttercream or a ganache based frosting for the cake, neither one really needs to be refrigerated overnight.

Even a whipped ganache, as the OP is referring to? I am under the impression that a whipped ganache should be refrigerated for storage, which I always do.

Also, I haven't found that whipped ganache (made with bittersweet chocolate) is "too adult" for kids. I've never had that feedback and I've baked for preschoolers, not just my own kids. If it's a question of sweetness, you can simply add more sugar to the ganache. When I use milk chocolate in my whipped ganache, it's to achieve a different flavor.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Apart from this cake, the event is catered :wacko: . I'm leaving the cutting to the professionals. What I've seen work well is a concentric circle or two cut one-third to midway through the cake, then slices cut from that. Would that work, you think? Anyway, like I say, I'll strictly be a guest at that point, albeit an anxious one.

K8--I'm in New Jersey (although I'm actually from Memphis). No one would EVER cut a pizza in squares here! Unless it was a Sicilian pie, of course, but that's a whole 'nother thing. Thanks for the tin-foil trick. You've saved me from yet another use-it-once baking purchase.

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if you're making either a buttercream or a ganache based frosting for the cake, neither one really needs to be refrigerated overnight.

Even a whipped ganache, as the OP is referring to? I am under the impression that a whipped ganache should be refrigerated for storage, which I always do.

Also, I haven't found that whipped ganache (made with bittersweet chocolate) is "too adult" for kids. I've never had that feedback and I've baked for preschoolers, not just my own kids. If it's a question of sweetness, you can simply add more sugar to the ganache. When I use milk chocolate in my whipped ganache, it's to achieve a different flavor.

depending on what your ratio of cream is to chocolate, i would say you don't have to refrigerate. whipped and butter ganaches are often used for chocolate fillings (bonbons) and those do not have to be refrigerated...particularly if the cake is being made the night before and being served the next day. if you're making your ganache several days before assembly, then i might recommend fridging. if you're making all your components fresh, then i wouldn't bother.

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Apart from this cake, the event is catered :wacko: . I'm leaving the cutting to the professionals. What I've seen work well is a concentric circle or two cut one-third to midway through the cake, then slices cut from that. Would that work, you think? Anyway, like I say, I'll strictly be a guest at that point, albeit an anxious one.

K8--I'm in New Jersey (although I'm actually from Memphis). No one would EVER cut a pizza in squares here! Unless it was a Sicilian pie, of course, but that's a whole 'nother thing. Thanks for the tin-foil trick. You've saved me from yet another use-it-once baking purchase.

Well thank you, I'm so glad I helped.

Umm, concentric circles works fine. Glad that there are pros there and you can relax (to a certain extent) and enjoy. I'm sure it will be wonderful.

The only bugaboo about the concentric circle is that the moist crumb & icing build up on the knife can potentially create more friction going around and tear the cake a little more. Not always. Just so many variables. So the cut off a hunk in one straight shot aka square-ish but never in New Jersey :raz: can result in less build up and...truthfully my favorite way is the leave it to someone else way. :biggrin:

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I was afraid to suggest squares what with all you pros posting, but that's how I'd have done it. So now I am quite pleased with myself.

And even happier to learn about the concentric circles idea for future reference.

That could still be applied, tho clearly its the server's job to decide.

But they could cut in 'so' far, then square it off easily enough. So they become rounded edge 'squares'. Still having a hard time picturing it with a layer cake. If anyone gets a shot of the cake cutting, would you please post it? (I know at a bar mitzvah its not quite the center of attention that it is at a wedding).

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Here is the recipe for my best chocolate buttercream. Kids and adults all love it.

DARK CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING Yield: 2 cups

2-2/3 cups confectioners sugar

3/4 cups cocoa powder

6 Tbsp. butter

5 to 6 Tbsp. milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Combine confectioners sugar and cocoa in small bowl. Cream butter with 1/2 cup of cocoa mixture in a small bowl. Alternately add remaining cocoa mixture and milk; beat to spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla. For glossier frosting, stir in 1 Tbsp. corn syrup.

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\And even happier to learn about the concentric circles idea for future reference.

That could still be applied, tho clearly its the server's job to decide.

But they could cut in 'so' far, then square it off easily enough. So they become rounded edge 'squares'.  Still having a hard time picturing it with a layer cake. If anyone gets a shot of the cake cutting, would you please post it? (I know at a bar mitzvah its not quite the center of attention that it is at a wedding).

Here is a diagram from a book titled, "Food for Fifty" by Mary Molt. This diagram shows how to cut various cake shapes into the specified number of servings (which still looks very difficult to me, as I am not a baker!). The image in the lower, right corner shows how a 12" round cake can be cut into 36 portions.

gallery_51874_5165_24349.jpg

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That's a very cool reference page. Thanks for taking the trouble to post it. Visuals are wunnerful!

Its clear enough to me if we are talking one layer. No sweat.

But adding that second layer destabilizes things alot. (At least, in my hands it does). In theory its the same, but in practice......

so I shall be waiting with great interest to see how it all goes!

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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