You might think this is a wedding cake… but it’s not. My maternal grandma turned 80 a couple of weeks ago, and she wanted a layer cake for her birthday, so that’s what I made. I chose to keep it white because I think it looks elegant, but you can decorate it any way you like! I had already made one last year for my parents’ anniversary, and everyone loved it so I didn’t change the recipe. Actually, that’s not completely true: one of my cousins complained about the raspberries, so I changed the filling of the smaller layers to chocolate-hazelnut. It was my third time baking a cake this big/complicated, and I reminded myself of what I said last year: I’m not baking another one like this unless I have a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. It’s just too hard with a handheld mixer. Plus, I want a Kitchen Aid so this is a really good excuse… my family loves these cakes so maybe I can trick them into buying me one. Wishful thinking on my part, since it’s very expensive to buy in Europe (as in 400+ euros expensive). That’s why I still don’t have one!
I’m not by any means a cake expert… but here’s the recipe that works for me.
Not a wedding cake: chocolate, raspberry & mascarpone
Note: we used this recipe for our wedding cake a year and a half later. Oh the irony. I did vary the timeline for this, and made it in two days, simply served it on the third one.
For the chocolate cake
- 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup dutch processed cocoa
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 12 oz (340g) butter
- 3 cups brown sugar
- 6 large eggs, slightly beaten
- Preheat oven at 355ºF (180ºC).
- Sift the flour, baking soda and salt.
- Mix the cocoa with the hot water; once it’s cooled, add in the buttermilk.
- With a mixer, beat the butter and sugar. Gradually beat in the eggs.
- Add the dry ingredients in 3 turns and the cocoa mixture in 2 turns alternating, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Divide the dough into separate molds (I used two medium sized and two smallish sized). Cook until the top is springy; depending on the size of the mold, it’ll be 20 minutes approx. for the smaller one, and 30 minutes for the bigger one.
- Let the layers cool thoroughly. If you’ve done the four layers separately, a good way to have the tops be completely leveled and even besides cutting them with a serrated knife is placing heavy books on top.
For the raspberry filling
- Fresh raspberries
- Raspberry jam
- Since it’s best to make the cake a couple of days early, I use a bit of jam so it’s not very dry and then place the raspberries on top.
For the hazelnut filling
- Hazelnut praliné
- Part of the frosting
- In a double boiler, melt a bit of chocolate and stir in the praliné and a bit of milk. (I kind of eyeballed the quantities, sorry). Let it cool.
- Add in a bit of the frosting and stir. Let it rest for a bit in the fridge.
For the mascarpone vanilla frosting
- 10 oz (300g) whipping cream
- 10 oz (300g) mascarpone
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp white sugar (or 2 if you like it sweeter)
- You’ll definitely need to multiply this recipe by 2-3 (or even 4 if you decorate the cake a lot) but I think it’s better if you do it one at a time (or two). You can also just keep in mind the proportion of whipping cream to mascarpone (1:1, or even a bit more of whipping cream if you’d like) and eye ball the sugar and vanilla extract, so you’re not left with a ton of frosting.
- With a mixer, beat the whipping cream, mascarpone, extract and sugar until stiff peaks are formed. Use immediately.
Assembly and timeline
- Day 1: Bake the cakes. Let them cool thoroughly. Level them with a serrated knife or by placing heavy books on top. Wrap tightly and store.
- Day 2: Prepare some frosting and the fillings. With a pastry bag, pipe a ring of frosting along the border of the cake. Fill with rasperry jam and raspberries, or chocolate-hazelnut frosting. Place another layer on top. Use the rest of the frosting for a crumb coat, to seal the crumbs on the cake. Let it cool on the fridge.
- Day 3: Prepare the rest of the frosting. With an offset spatula, frost the cake. Using the small mold as a guideline, place the small tier on top of the big tier. Finish decorating with the help of a pastry bag.