I’m making a wedding cake for two of my colleagues on Thursday. Well, on Wednesday and Thursday, really, though Wednesday is just the baking phase and shouldn’t be too tricky. I’ve been asked for a chocolate and raspberry cake, a big cake rather than cupcakes, because they want something that looks ‘weddingy’, and if I could make some cupcakes or something that are egg-free that would be really good.
Current plans are to make my Almond and Berry Cake for the bottom layer – altered to substitute in cocoa for half a cup of the flour, and maybe adding in some melted chocolate just before the berries, and then to make my vegan Chocolate, Coconut and Raspberry Cupcakes as one full-sized (18-20cm round) cake for the top layer. I’ll put a cake board and a layer of ganache between the layers, just to prevent any risk of cross-contamination, though I don’t think the risk is high even without the cake board.
The bride really likes white chocolate ganache, but the groom prefers dark chocolate, so I’ll be covering the cake with white chocolate ganache and then creating a chocolate collar to go around each of the two cakes. I’ll then fill the space inside the collar with a mixture of berries, mint leaves and edible flowers (not the best season for it, but the bridal couple wanted summer berries despite the season, so what can you do?). A quick look at my garden reveals a little lavender, some pineapple sage and rosemary flowers, a few geraniums and the first buds of lemon blossom, which should be enough. If I can find any nasturtiums, all the better.
I’ve actually made cakes like this before, and a sane, sensible Catherine would just leave it at that. I am not, of course, a sane or sensible Catherine, and besides, those decorations are just way too easy (though beautiful when done correctly). So I’ve decided to up the difficulty level in two ways: first, I’m going to temper the chocolate (or attempt to do so), and second, I’m going to use cocoa butter transfers to make a pattern on the outside of the chocolate collar.
(to be fair, this will *also* make the cake more beautiful, but I regret to say that a large part of the motivation really is “This is too easy…”. If I were able to resist the clarion call of An Exciting Challenge a bit more often, my life would be much less stressful…)
I’ve actually tempered chocolate at home before. Once. Well, three times, but it only actually worked once. I have no idea whether I can do it again. But that’s OK – ganache is really fast to make, the mixture of berries etc just need to be washed and put on at the venue (last time I made this cake and transported it, I wound up with raspberry juice all over my dress. I have learned my lesson now…) – if necessary, I can spend all Thursday getting the chocolate tempered! And if it doesn’t work, hey, I can still make the collars out of un-tempered chocolate. They will still taste good, and nobody will ever know that I tried and failed…
… there may be a flaw in this line of reasoning…
The transfers are actually quite easy to do, but you can’t tell that from looking at them.
Anyway, I’ve just spent fifteen minutes discussing the ins and outs of chocolate tempering with a couple of people at the Savour School, so I have a few tips, one of which involves seeing if I can find my hairdryer and whether it still works after fifteen years of disuse. If I can get my act together, I’ll have a try at tempering chocolate this weekend. If I’m *really* good, I’ll see if I can get Andrew to photograph the process, so that I can report back to you.
But for now, I think I’ll just have a go at making vegan raspberry and chocolate cake. To practice, you understand. Of course, we’ll have to eat the results, but sometimes one must suffer in a worthy cause…