How to Make a Ruffle Cake

Delicate waves and intricate ruffles simply made from buttercream icing!

How to Make a Ruffle Cake

Hi All!  Thank you so much for all of the kind words regarding last week’s cake.  I hope the gluten-free part didn’t scare too many of you away, but also inspired those that are gluten intolerant to bake beautiful things.  Also, I am super relieved that you all seemed to like the new blue backdrop.  It’s not something I plan to use everyday, but glad to have something fun and a little out of my comfort zone to spice things up every now and then.  But what you really seemed to be excited about is the delicate wave/ruffle piping.  As promised, I will be sharing how to do it yourself!

How to Make a Ruffle Cake

I love experimenting with buttercream every change I get.  When I first started my career working with cake back in 2007, it was all about fondant and novelty cakes.  I found the most joy either spending hours on delicate sugar flowers or making a cake that looked like other food – a hamburger cake or a donut, perhaps.  Trends come and go, and I am so glad to see that buttercream has made a definite comeback and seems to be here to stay. 

I personally made the transition from fondant back to buttercream after I closed my bakery and moved to Vancouver.  I was no longer making wedding cakes and didn’t have room in our city apartment to keep all the tools and supplies needed for those types of cakes.  Plus, I had nobody to eat or order them.  I started gravitating towards interesting flavour pairings and buttercream textures because those were the types of layer cakes that I wanted to eat myself and ones that you home bakers would appreciate the most.

I feel pretty nerdy and so pretentious saying that cake decorating is an art form and buttercream is my medium of choice, but it’s true!  As a child and into my twenties, I used dance as my creative outlet.  Now I use sugar and butter.  Using just an offset spatula and various piping tips, it’s fun and challenging to come up with new textures.  This delicate wave/ruffle pattern just happens to be one of my new favourite designs.

About 5 years ago I made a very similar design, except it was made purely from fondant.  Each wave was ruffled by hand and then gilded with a bit of edible gold paint on the delicate edges.   It took forever.  By the time all the ruffles were added, the fondant had dried and hardened.  It was gorgeous, but you’d have to pick off all of that hard work just to get to the yummy cake inside – essential making it a time-consuming decoration and not necessarily an edible garnish.

Today’s version is so much tastier and takes only about 10 to 15 minutes.  No, seriously!  Once your cake is crumb coated and your buttercream already whipped, the piping is quite simple and fast.  Plus, the organic-ness of it all means that your waves don’t have to be perfect.  In fact, embrace the imperfection!

How to Make a Ruffle Cake
How to Make a Ruffle Cake

How to Make a Ruffle Cake

1.     Place the cake on a cake board of the same size.  Fill, stack, and crumb coat your cake in buttercream icing.  You do not have to fully ice the cake, but the crumb coat should be thick enough that the cake layers do not show through.  Finish off the top of the cake as normal.

2.     Fit a piping bag with a petal tip (I used #103 on this 6-inch round cake) and fill with buttercream.

3.     (optional) Place the cake board (and cake) on top of an upside-down bowl so that it elevates the bottom of the cake.

4.     Hold the piping bag parallel to the side of the cake, keeping the wide end of the piping tip towards the cake – slightly touching the crumb coat.

5.     Keeping consistent pressure, start piping ruffles from the bottom of the cake to the top.  Create long, curvy waves as well as short ruffles for more interest.  Stop pressure before pulling the piping bag away at the top.  Repeat.

6.     Continue around the cake – sometimes following the curves of the previous wave and sometimes mixing it up.  I prefer the ruffles to be fairly close together for a delicate look.

7.     I find that the waves look more natural if the begin slightly bellow the cake – hence why I elevate it.  Once you pipe waves all the way around the cake, take an offset spatula or paring knife to gently “cut off” the bottom excess without disturbing the rest of the wave.

8.     Use an offset spatula to carefully lift the cake and place on a serving dish or cake stand.  Enjoy!

Gluten Free Vanilla London Fog Cake

Layers of fluffy white cake using alternative grains are smothered in vanilla-flecked, Earl Grey infused buttercream before being engulfed in delicate crepe ruffles.  Happy 2017!

Gluten Free Vanilla Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream

Happy 2017, everyone!  We are already on week 2 of the New Year, and I finally have something new to share with you today.  It’s a layer cake, of course, but it’s no ordinary cake.  Before you get nervous and start browsing elsewhere because of the title, let me tell you that I won’t be turning gluten free any time soon, nor will this blog.  This space will still be packed with wheat flour-driven recipes – as well as loads of butter and eggs, at times.  But 2017 is all about trying new things and pushing boundaries (for me, at least), so I thought I’d kick off the year with a little something different.

Gluten Free Vanilla Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream
Gluten Free Vanilla Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream
Gluten Free Vanilla Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream

I am not one for making New Year’s resolutions – are you?  At the top of each year I always vow to just be a bit better – exercise more often, eat less cookies, try to keep better sleep habits, be more present with my son, love and forgive myself, etc.  You know, the things I should be trying to do all year, each year, but need a gentle reminder or “reset” after a holiday season full of indulgence.  I don’t actually write any of these things down, because 1) I generally already know what I am supposed to be doing to stay healthy and happy 2) I am not very good at sticking to a list of resolutions even though I know what’s best for me (see reason number 1) and will routinely still stay up to 1am watching Netflix or binge on pizza because I temporary “forgot” I was trying to be “good” and 3) failing to comply such lists interferes with the “love myself” part since I tend to be so hard on myself most of the time.

In addition to the above-mentioned healthy and happy habits, I do want to push myself this year.  I don’t need to go cliff divining to feel alive or anything crazy like that, but just to try new things – like finally making sourdough starter and finish decorating our not-so-new-anymore home.  Business wise, I want to push myself out of my comfort zone creatively and expand my recipe repertoire(see sourdough starter and gluten-free cake). 

What does that mean here on the blog?  I don’t know exactly what it all looks like, but there will for sure be artful, thoughtful imagery and delicious recipes.  In this instance, I challenged myself to put down my go-to white backdrop in favour of this bold, blue one.  I’m still not sure if I love it or loathe it, but I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t tried. I cringed the first time I opened the image files on my desktop, but Brett loved it and Amy called it “regal.”  Same goes for the some-what dramatic, busy piping. As I scroll through now, it is starting to grow on me…

And for you guys?  I hope you will join me.  I hope you will push yourselves to try out a few new recipes and follow along with my cake decorating tutorials.  Judging by how much more popular my How-To posts are, you are all already eager to learn and grow already.  I hope to make more creative cake designs with tips and tutorials for you to experiment with and call your own.

Gluten Free Vanilla Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream

As for the cake…Fear not, this is the most delicious gluten-free cake that has ever come out of my kitchen.  There have been a ton of flops – let me tell you.  In most of my past gluten-free “experiments,” I’ve simply just swapped out all-purpose flour for coconut flour or whatever else I happen to have at home.  Guys, it really doesn’t work that way.  Like other baked goods, gluten-free items still need balance when it comes to texture, structure, and flavour.  I am still learning myself, by thankfully the super-talented Alanna of The Bojon Gourmet did most of the work for us and put it all in her GORGEOUS book Alternative Baker.  I received a copy for Christmas and was eager to put some of her tips to the test.  I stocked up on a few alternative grains and hit the ground running.

Of course this cake doesn’t taste exactly like my standard butter cake recipe, but why should it?  It uses a trio of grains, white rice flour, oat flour, and millet flour, that not only provide a tender crumb and surprisingly fluffy texture, but also flavour!  I was still a bit hesitant when assembly the cake, so I split each layer in half and smothered them in my favourite Earl Grey buttercream from Layered.  It tastes soooo good!  Truthfully, I could have let the cake layers shine on their own, but that extra does of Earl Grey buttercream is heavenly. 

I’m in love with the flecks of real vanilla bean and little bits of tea within the buttercream.  Seriously, there is SO MUCH flavour to this frosting!  In my book, I paired it with a chocolate cake, poured a heavy portion of salted caramel sauce over the top, and called it a London Fog Cake.  When publishing, I wasn’t sure how popular this flavour combination would be.  To my surprise, it is definitely a fan favoroute!  Who would have thought?  A London Fog is a vanilla-sweetened Earl Grey tea latte.  Pairing the Earl Grey buttercream with a vanilla cake is actually a bit more indicative of the name, and I am so glad this version turned out to be just as delicious as my original cake.

Tune back in later this week to find out How to Make a Ruffle Cake!!

 

Gluten Free Vanilla Butter Cake
Adapted from Alternative Baker

1 ¼ cup white rice flour
½ cup oat flour (gluten free)
½ cup millet flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup grapeseed or canola oil
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour three 6-inch round cake pans and set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-low until smooth.  Add the sugar and mix on medium for 3 to 4 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Add the oil and mix until combined.

Working one at a time, mix in the eggs and egg yolk.  Add the vanilla and mix until combined.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

With the mixer on low, add in half of the dry ingredients.  Once they are mostly combined, stream in the buttermilk.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined and smooth.

Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared pans.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.  The tops should be slightly golden.  Cool on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.  Wait until the cakes have completely cooled before slicing in half horizontally to create six layers (if planning to do so).

 

NOTE: This cake is fairly tender.  If you want to be safe, line the bottom of each cake pan with a parchment round for easier removal. 

 

Earl Grey Buttercream
From Layered

2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup loose Earl Grey tea
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 ml) egg whites, from about 4 to 5 large eggs
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or seeds from ½ vanilla bean

Place 1 cup of the butter in a saucepan with the loose tea.  Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let the tea steep for 5 minutes more.  Strain the butter through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl and refrigerate it until is reached the same consistency as softened butter, 20 to 30 minutes.  Small bits of tea may remains in the butter.

Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Whisk them together by hand to combine.  Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place it over medium-high heat.  Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler.  The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.  Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers about 155-160 degrees on a candy thermometer or is hot to the touch.  Carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer.

With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until it holds medium-stiff peaks.  When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature and no residual heat should be escaping from the meringue out of the top of the bowl.  Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.

With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, tea-infused butter, and 1 cup butter, a couple tablespoons at a time.  Once incorporated, turn the mixer to medium-high and bet until the buttercream is silky smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.

 

Stay tuned for a sweet GIF and tutorial for how to create the delicate crepe ruffle finish!

Cheers to this Champagne Mimosa Cake!

Happy 2017!!!  Kick off the new year with a bit of bubbly in the form of cake.  This tender, orange-scented cake smothered in sinking champagne buttercream, to be extract.  Frilly decór is optional but definitely encouraged for any festive affair.  

Champagne Mimosa Cake
Champagne Mimosa Cake
Champagne Mimosa Cake

What feels like more than any other year, I keep seeing posts about how people wish 2016 would just end already.  How they would like to kiss it good-bye and never look back.  Perhaps I am seeing so much just do due to social media and its ability to give everyone a voice and platform.  Regardless, it has got me thinking…. Sure every year has its own set of tragedies and hardships, but was 2016 worse than other years?  Did the bad out-weigh all the good that happened?  Will the same people praying for 2016 to end be saying the same thing 365 days from now?  I truly don’t know the real answer…  

2016 was not all bad, though.  At least, for me personally, it was a pretty good one.  It was the year my book was released into the real world, my husband secured a job that he loves more than we ever thought possible, and Everett transformed from a baby to a little human with personality, opinions of his own, humour, and kindness.  Spending the holidays with our families is the most sacred time of year for me.  I’ve always yearned for big family Christmases, and I am beyond grateful that most years (including this one), I get to spend the holiday with so many people that I love.  

Champagne Mimosa Cake

Waking up on Christmas morning with my most favorite people in the entire world means everything to me.  Maybe that sounds childish or insignificant to some, but for me it is true.  With our nieces and nephews being so much older and so far away, I worry that my children won’t get that quality cousin time that I hope they get to enjoy.  Seeing my two nieces, ages 10 and 12, let Ev roll the dice for their board game, play with Dollar Store balloons like they were the most precious gifts of all time as Everett’s infectious laugh filled the room, and give countless hugs, kisses, and fist-bumps made my mommy heart explode.  So while I kept seeing messages on my new feed that pretty much said good riddance to 2016, I was holding on to each day this past week hoping they would never end.

I get it though.  A new year can feel like a fresh start.  I know that’s what I was telling myself as I downed dozens of Christmas cookies and eggnog this past week.  I will be healthier in 2017.  I will exercise more in the new year.  Come January, the world will be a better a place!  While January 1st is just another day on the calendar, I understand why it seems like a good starting point for change.  If it wasn’t for us humans, the world would still turn and the sun would rise and set like any other day.  But especially after a month on indulgence, crazy travel schedules, and hard-core holiday celebrating, January 1st does seem like a good place to start over.

What are your resolutions for the new year?  Mine typically start the same – eat cleaner, exercise more often, be present with my family, etc.  This year, I want to add a few specifics.  2017 will be the year my life-long sourdough starter is born.  It will also be the year that I finally use the mozzarella making kit that I begged for and received on my birthday the year that I was pregnant and never got around to opening.  I was going to go buy myself some free weights this afternoon so I can do my workout videos in the living room, but then our flight got delayed and we had to stay in California another night.  I don’t ever plan on being vegan or gluten-free, but I want to take more principals from those lifestyles and apply them to mine – more plant-based meals and less white flour.  And if I am going to indulge in crabs (pizza dough, bread, cake, etc), it should come from my own kitchen or better be like really, really good and worth it.  Funny how so many of my yearly resolutions revolve around food and how to keep eating sweets without being terribly unhealthy…. 

Champagne Mimosa Cake

On that note, let’s ring in the new year with this Champagne Mimosa Cake!  Tender, orange-scented cake with fizzy Champagne buttercream?  Oh yes!!  Here’s a little bit more of what I have to say about this stunning cake:

Better brunching is at the top of my 2017 resolutions list, so why not start right away with a New Year’s Day breakfast feast! Of course every good brunch kicks off with a mimosa and this cake incorporates those flavors into a sparkling sweet treat. Tender, orange sponge cake is smothered with silky champagne buttercream. The flavors pair together perfectly! No need for any other frills, except for the décor of course. Loopy ruffles give this cake extra festive flair and a sprinkling of gold is the perfect touch.
— Tessa Huff for The Cake Blog

Find the full recipe on The Cake Blog!

Happy New Year, Everyone!!!  xo Tessa

Peppermint Red Velvet Cake

Tender red velvet cake layers have been smothered in a not-too-sweet peppermint white chocolate buttercream.  Finish off this whimsical look with swirly frosting, piped details, and extra sprinkles!

Peppermint Red Velvet Cake

I don’t have much to say about this cake, except that you should definitely make it ASAP!  We are down to the final days before Christmas, and if you have yet to finalized your holiday menu, then I strongly encourage you to add this cutie to your list. Unapologetically whimsical, swirly, and pink, this cake is full of joy and Christmas magic!  And if I can’t personally share a slice will you all, then please accept this virtual attempt to spread holiday cheer to all you cake lovers and dessert aficionados.

Peppermint Red Velvet Cake
Peppermint Red Velvet Cake

This week is usually spent baking cookies with my mom and wrapping last-minute gifts (side note- I LOVE wrapping presents), but things have definitely changed these past couple year.  We won’t be flying out to California until the 24th, so this week leaves me with plenty of time to reflect and get homesick.  I’ll try to focus on the former….  It’s just  the little guy and me at home (with the hubs at work everyday).  The weather is an absolute mess (yesterday’s gorgeous snow turned to slush) and all of Everett’s regular activities are on hold until after the New Year.  In the meantime, we will try to fill our days with cookie-making, coloring, and lots of snuggles.

Peppermint Red Velvet Cake
Peppermint Red Velvet Cake

But back to this cake.  I designed it with my little one in mind.  Seeing Christmas through his innocent eyes this year has been pure magic.  He still is a bit behind in the language department, but “Sansa” has become his new favorite thing to shout out (either he loves the idea of Santa or can’t wait until Game of Thrones returns, lol).  So while you might find yourself trying to dig out from under a pile stress, chaos, wrapping paper, and sugar comas these next few days (me included), try to remember this is a season for love and ultimately FUN!

Peppermint Red Velvet Cake

Here’s a bit more of what I have to say about this cake that I made for The Cake Blog:

I can’t think of anything more fun than this Peppermint Red Velvet Cake. Bright red cake layers alternate with white chocolate peppermint buttercream filling to create festive candy cane striped slices. While I understand that red velvet can sometimes be “controversial,” I officially give you permission to skip the red food coloring or use a natural version, if you’d like. Either way, this cake is slightly tangy, has a hint of cocoa, and is extremely moist and fluffy. Using a mix of both butter (for flavor) and oil (for texture) keeps the layers extra tender and, well, velvety! Peppermint can be quite strong, but the white chocolate keeps it mellow and oh so delightful. For added fun and a bit of whimsy, swirl in some pink dye as you frost the cake and add a generous sprinkle of sugar pearls and sanding sugar to finish!
— Tessa Huff for The Cake Blog

Head on over The Cake Blog for the full recipe!