Monday, August 16, 2010

Enchanted Tree Cake

Chocolate buttercream, moist vanilla cake, and a delicious coating of home-made chocolate fondant... That's what this enticing enchanted tree cake consists of. All the little animals and leaves were made ahead of time out of gumpaste, and then petal dusted (edible of course).
Sculpted cakes sometimes sound more intimidating than they actually are, most of the work comes from covering and emblishments rather than the carving of the cake itself. I personally think it takes more courage to carve a turkey than a cake!
For practice on molding little animals and foliage, try using play dough, the texture is very similar. Just remember that fondant dries out over time and can lose its color.
For this cake I used Chef Toba Garrett's (who is an instructor at my Pastry School (ICE) and world famous cake decorator) yellow moist chocolate cake.  It's a high ratio cake so it's very sturdy and stays moist better than a plain sponge cake.
To make it, here is what you'll need:


3 cups (330 g) cake flour
1 tablebspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces or 230 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (454 g) granulated sugar
5 large eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (10 fluid ounces or 300 ml) buttermilk


1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Lline with parchment paper two 8x2-inch (20x5-cm) pans. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Cut up the butter into 1-inch pieces and place them in the large bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment or beaters. Beat for 3 minutes on MEDIUM-HIGH speed until the butter is light and creamy in color. Stop and scrape the bowl. Cream the butter for an additional 60 seconds.
4.Add the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the eggs one at a time.
5. Reduce the mixer speed. Stir vanilla into the buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a knife. Lift up the pan with the batter, and let it drop onto the counter top to burst any air bubbles, allowing the batter to settle.
7.Center the pans onto the lower third of the oven and let bake 45 to 50 minutes or until the cake is lightly brown on top and comes away from the sides of the pan. Push down on the center of the cake, if it springs back, it is done. If not, keep baking!

This cake is delicious and goes well with any filling. Almond is especially good!

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