A couple of months ago, I took a cake decorating class at a local bakery, where we learned how to make buttercream frosting, then how to assemble and frost our cake. I decided to test out what I had learned for Thanksgiving and wanted to share the results with you.
I was trying to look for a Thanksgiving-y flavor. I settled on an orange almond cake with a vanilla swiss buttercream. I’m not sure if that’s a Thanksgiving flavor or not, but it sounded delicious. I followed this recipe verbatim, and it actually came out pretty good! My family loved it and I actually had a lot of fun doing it.
Disclaimer: I will say that this recipe was very labor intensive. I had to bake the actual cake and make the frosting/ decorate on two different nights because it took so long. There was zesting, and whipping and folding (oh my!). I started on the cake as soon as I got home from work one night, around 6:15pm. I wasn’t done baking until close to 11pm. YIKES! Despite how good the cake came out, I’m not sure I’ll be following this recipe again. Martha Stewart is going to have to take a back seat after that.
Because I made the cake and frosting on separate days, I wrapped the layers in cling wrap and stored them in the fridge. They kept really well. I think this may have made frosting easier too. There really wasn’t much crumbing happening, which I think is due to the fact that the cake was chilled.
But look how nice it looks! Not too bad for a first try, eh?
The class I took taught us how to make an Italian meringue buttercream (that’s their specialty), but I opted for a Swiss meringue buttercream. Swiss is what was used on our wedding cake, which I absolutely LOVED. The two types are pretty similar from what I can tell. Swiss is supposed to be a little less sweet than Italian. Italian also requires you to heat a sugar syrup to a certain temperature, whereas you don’t need to do that for Swiss. I did have to put some sugar and egg whites over heat. But this was to dissolve the sugar and relax the egg proteins, which enables the eggs to whip up higher and more quickly (or so they say, I’m still a beginner at this). It seemed a little less stringent than the Italian buttercream recipe, but I’m sure once you’ve done any recipe a couple of times, it becomes second nature.
I will say that I could not have made this cake without my Kitchenaid mixer. You do a lot of mixing. A lot. This is the first time that I’ve really had the opportunity to use my mixer at length, and it was a lot of fun! I felt like a real baker! If you don’t have one and you like to bake, I would strongly recommend investing in one of these bad boys!
I really want to get better and baking and decorating layer cakes, but it’s a hard hobby to just do. I can’t make my husband eat an entire cake once a week! My next go at it will be for Christmas. I want to make a chocolate peppermint cake. MMmmm I think it’s going to be so good!
What’s your favorite kind of cake or dessert?
What’s something that you’re interested in and want to get better at?