A week ago, I was asked by a friend to make a cake for her in-laws’ golden wedding anniversary last weekend which is an honor of course and I am really happy that she appreciates the cakes I made previously on past gatherings or occasions. She said she liked the chocolate mousse cake I brought last time for our friend’s birthday so much that she cannot forget it! (Aaawwww!) So when she asked me, I said yes of course!!! So I asked her about her preference, she said she would like to have a cake that is creamy and not too sweet ( because Germans do not like it too sweet), like the chocolate mousse cake or similar. I thought “OK that is easy” and I also like and make my cakes not that sweet. Then she went on that she will be picking it up on Friday around lunch time as she needed to go to work afterward and it will be served after lunch the next day, Saturday..OK now, this is something new to me. I usually make a cake the same day or earliest is a night before it will be served. I have no idea how long can I make it in advance. And of course I want it to be pretty as this will be the real first cake someone else (aside from Armin) asked me to do!
I spent the first day “googling” about cakes to get some ideas. I saw some really nice pictures and I decided I want to make a fondant cake. The problem is I am pretty sure a mousse filling is next to impossible for a fondant cake, although I read some people tried it, but being a novice at making fondant cakes I do not want to risk my first cake “order” becoming a disaster. Another major problem I have is … I HATE FONDANT! I never eat it on cakes because the sweetness of it makes me feel sick! But the pictures of cakes in internet just look so nice and I just have to give it a try. I am stuborn that way! So after another two days researching in Google and reading a lot of cake forums, I found what I think is the best solution for this special cake. A chocolate cake with chocolate ganache filling under a marshmallow fondant! This is almost the same to the Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe I used that my friend liked so much and chocolate ganache hardens as it cools down which, I think, would make it perfect crumb coat for smoother fondant cake finish plus it is also less sweeter than butter cream or other icing. Now I chose to do marshmallow fondant, first because the ingredients are easier to find and, second, I thought it would taste a lot better since I like marshmallows and I had a feeling it will be less sweeter than the regular fondant . It turned out I was right, this is the fondant even I can eat..and I did and love it . Now as for the timing , I also read from the forums I visited that making the cake a few days in advance should not be a problem. But I was still skeptical about it of course, so what I did was make a test cake! I made the cake on Sunday and we ate it on Tuesday. Making the test cake also let me played with various ideas for the design on the final cake which I really enjoyed doing.
Here is the recipe I use for making a moist chocolate cake and the chocolate ganache. How to make marshmallow fondant and how I designed the cake (without using fondant tools) will be on other post as this one is too long already.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- For chocolate ganache:
- 400g semi sweet chocolate (at least 40% cacao)
- 275 ml cream (whipping or all-purpose )
- For the cake: Grease and flour a 9" or 24cm round pan. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together, adding the eggs and milk the last. Note that the batter will be runny. Pour batter in the prepared pan and tap it a bit to even out the batter. Bake on preheated oven at 350°F/180°C for 35-40 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let it cool down. Make sure it is no longer warm when you assemble the cake. Can be made a day in advance. Cover in fling wrap and place in fridge.
- For the Ganache: ***If using microwave, place 200ml cream in big bowl and heat for 10 seconds on full power, add the semi sweet chocolate and heat for another 10 seconds. Take out from microwave and stir well. If chocolate is still lumpy, heat it again for another 10 seconds and stir again afterwards. Repeat as needed but giving it a good stirring in between and the chocolate should melt slowly without heating too much. ***If not using microwave, place the bowl with cream on top of a small saucepan with boiling water, make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Add chopped chocolates and stir continuously until it melts then remove from heat. Continue stirring until well blended. Let the chocolate ganache cool down.
- Scoop about half of the ganache into another bowl and add the remaining 75ml of cream and mix until well blended. Put it in the freezer for 7-10 minutes to make it set faster but do not let it freeze. Take it out of the freezer and whip until it becomes light and fluffy. This will be the filling and the other will be used for crumb coating.
When you crumb coat and it becomes too stiff to work with just pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until the desired consistency is achieved. It should not be too runny or you will make a mess but soft enough that the crumbs are not sticking to it when you try to spread it out and will able you to scrape excess.
My sister in law (a much more experienced cake maker) gave me some tips aswell. When the cake has completely cooled down, cover it with a fling wrap and place it in the fridge for at least 2 hours. This will make it firmer, thus, easier to crumb coat. Then put the filling and apply the first coat. Put the cake back to the fridge for another hour so the ganache can set then take it out again to apply a second coat of ganache. The result will be a firmer coated cake that will make it easier to cover with fondant and a smoother, straighter finish.
Another tip I found useful is making a dam for the filling specially if the filling is of softer consistency. Just put some of the ganache in a piping bag and use a tip with a big hole. Then pipe ganache on top edges of the first layer of cake until you make a full circle. You can pipe another layer on top of the first one if you want to have a higher filling. Fill inside of the dam with the filling and make sure to spread it evenly and same level as the dam before putting the next layer of cake. This will help prevent the filling from bulging out on the sides.
I posted a video on the technique I use for dividing cakes into layers using a thread. I find it easier and less messy or no crumbs at all.