My husband's 31st birthday was on Wednesday, May 25th. And, the love of my life has a serious sweet tooth. I try to always bake something special to celebrate the big day, especially since he won't let me make a big deal about it otherwise. His favorite cake is red velvet, and he requested it this year, but I couldn't just leave it at that. Red velvet is just too simple. Since we just welcomed our second baby girl two months ago, I wanted to make this year extra special because he truly is a wonderful father and husband. And, especially because he's the only reason I've gotten any sleep these last 8 weeks! Also, my in-laws were visiting this week and they are both wonderful cooks/bakers. I had to do something creative.
I had an idea to do a layer cake, but it wasn't until the very end when I really figured out exactly what I was doing. Until then, I had a vague idea that I somehow wanted to use a dense chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, red velvet and cream cheese icing. I searched more recipes than I care to admit, and finally decided to use this Chocolate Cake and Dark Chocolate Ganache from Food & Wine, Joy of Baking's Red Velvet Cake and Martha Stewart's Cream Cheese Buttercream Icing. And, the whole inspiration for the overall cake idea came from a desire to make a ruffle cake with the icing, with Cook Like a Champion's strawberry champagne baby shower cake as an example. She links to a tutorial that makes the whole process incredibly easy. The end result was a visually stunning cake and one that I was told was absolutely delicious (I couldn't actually eat any since I'm nursing a milk allergic child and must avoid milk myself). My mother-in-law, who doesn't even like sweets, ate two pieces so I take that as a huge compliment.
I was greatly surprised by how beautiful the cake was and how wonderful it (reportedly) tasted, but there are a few things I would do differently next time: the recipe for the chocolate cake called for it to be baked in a jelly roll pan and cut. I baked it in two 8 inch cake pans. Since it's nearly a flourless cake, there wasn't much rising and my cakes ended up looking like what my husband's mother calls stadium cakes - high seating on the side, and ground level middle. I wanted thin layers anyway, so it was okay, as I simply just cut them, but next time it may be easier to cut them from the jelly roll pan.
Also, I think I would use my mother's cream cheese icing recipe. I didn't have the exact recipe at the time (and still don't) and didn't want to bother her at work for it since I needed it immediately. Martha Stewart's recipe was fabulous, but I just remember my mother's as better and not quite as sweet. It's entirely possible, though, that my mom's is exactly the same and I just have an unexplainable aversion to all things Martha. Whatev.
So, here are the results:
The most difficult part of the ruffling process was getting the lines somewhat straight. I definitely could tell where I started and where I finished because my ruffles were tighter and straighter as I went. But, in the end, it turned out beautifully and was so, so easy.