Thursday, July 16, 2009

It seemed reasonably simple........

The idea was a simple cake to take to the office as a stress-reliever during a busy tension-filled week.  It sounded like "fun" and I thought it would be a great learning experience.   Most off all - it was important that it look good (to me anyways) and taste good!    

The basic premise was a 4-layer frosted chocolate cake filled with pecan/coconut filling.  The chocolate cake and filling came from "Baking Illustrated" (a favorite as it talks about the process involved in fine-tuning the recipe).   I was expecting the frosting would be a challenge...

Well - there is that saying about "best laid plans" (or is it "good intentions"?).   Whatever the case may be, there were a few challenges - but - some great learning opportunities for me!

#1 - While the cakes were baking (no problems so far), I started the pecan/coconut filling.   Not really wanting green accents in the filling - I had to toss the moldy coconut and plan a quick trip (there is no such thing here) to the store.   This was a surprise...  the dacquois wasn't THAT long ago!

#2 - The chocolate cakes didn't rise as much as I hoped and I was hesitant to slice the layers.   No big deal - right?   To get the height I wanted - I pulled an extra white cake layer from the freezer and sliced the top off.   Problem solved (actually, that should be "sort of solved") and the 4-layer chocolate cake became a "3-layer chocolate & white" cake.

#3 - Frosting (this word is starting to scare me).........   On a recent trip to B&N - I checked out Martha's cake book and she used Swiss Meringue Buttercream all the time.  Trusting just about all things Martha, I figured that is the direction I would go!   After one completely failed attempt and another not-so-quick trip to the store for eggs, it was on to batch #2.   This one came out well but did seem a little soft.

#4 - Hmmm, the white cake was 8" round, the chocolate cakes were 9" round.   I figured this out after the first layer was filled and the white cake was stacked.   A serrated steak knife (I later found my serrated kitchen knife in the dishwasher...  why it was there, I am not sure) made quick easy work of trimming the top layer.  Clever I thought not realizing the challenge to come later.....

#5 - The assembled cake now looked like a mutant wedding cake - one big layer and two smaller layers.   A few slices and I had an 8" 3-layer cake!   Again, I was thinking about how clever I was!

#6 - The frosting did not want to stick to the crumbs on the cleverly trimmed chocolate cakes so things got pretty messy (obviously).   Having recently watched a DVR'd episode of Cake Boss - I tried "dirty icing" the cake.   It was dirty - very dirty - but after a few minutes in the fridge to set the frosting - it worked well and I even got a pretty smooth finish on the sides (although it doesn't look that way in photo below).

#7 - Little scraps of butter wrapping accidently left in the frosting do not let piping tips work to their full potential!

Next time, I think I will try a very thin layer of frosting on top and bottom of each layer to help keep the filling "clean".....  any thoughts?



The cake got good compliments and really was a great learning process for me!   I am anxious to try it (or something like it) again soon!


  1. Jeff - it looks great! It's amazing what you can cover up with frosting. You'd never know there were so many "mishaps"! Is the full recipe in Baking Illustrated? It's one of my favorite books - I'll have to look for it. The finished cake looks fantastic - oh, fyi: I always keep my coconut in the freezer (never have to worry about "funky" coconut that way!) Nice job Jeff!

  2. Mike,

    Thanks - as always - for the nice comments. The recipes are:

    Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake - pg 360
    Coconut-Pecan Filling for GC Layer Cake - pg 361

    I just put the coconut in the freezer! I am curious if your cakes rise better than mine.

    Have fun!

  3. german chocolate is my favorite cake, so i would love, love, love this! swiss meringue b/c is one of the best frostings to decorate with IMO, but it's really all about practice. i'd say you did great!!