Thursday, January 16, 2014

Recipe :: A Winter Cake

As I mentioned on Monday, Saturday is Ryan's birthday and we are having a big shindig at the house.  While I will probably make cupcakes {people will be stopping in and out all night and I think something bite-sized will be more convenient} I am still contemplating making the adorable little Winter Cake that I made a few weeks ago for my sister's birthday.  I initially saw the recipe on Pinterest {of course}, and thought it was too cute to pass up.  I love how the ladies from freutcake created a tiny winter scene simply out of rosemary, powdered sugar, and white chocolate shavings {genius!}  

Disclaimer: I was out the day of the party and saw the identical cake at my favorite bakery, so instead of making the cake/frosting from scratch I simply used a pre-made cake and decorated it with their instructions.  Hey, like I said before...I'm all about the easy :) Either way, recipe is below!  And be sure to check out freutcake for step-by-step pictures of the decorating process and so much more.

Winter Cake {Recipe via freutcake}

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup + 3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 tbsp mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour two 6” round cake pans.

With a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat butter and sugar together on medium high speed until lightened and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes. Add eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Measure out buttermilk and add in vanilla extract. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix on low until it just comes together, no more than 30-45 seconds. Add half of the buttermilk, then mix again on low. Continue to alternate the wet and dry ingredients, ending with dry. Gently fold in mayonnaise.

Divide batter evenly (use a scale if you have one) into the two pans and bake for 25 minutes without opening the oven. Rotate pans and continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes.  The cake is done when a skewer come out clean and the cake is barely starting to separate from the sides of the pan.
5. Remove from oven at let cool for 15 minutes, then invert onto cake racks. Once cooled completely, securely wrap each cake in plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

5 oz egg whites (about 5 large egg whites)
5 oz sugar (about 3/4 cup)
1 lb butter (4 sticks), room temperature, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tsp vanilla extract

Fill medium sized saucepan with 2 inches of water and bring to simmer. Fit a glass or metal bowl (not plastic), or the bowl from your stand mixer, over the saucepan so it fits securely to make a double boiler. Add egg whites and sugar to the bowl and whisk constantly until the temperature reaches 140-160 F. If you don’t have a thermometer, make sure the sugar has melted completely by rubbing the mixture between your fingers (it is not hot enough to burn you). Make sure not to let the water boil or it will cook your egg whites.

Remove bowl from saucepan and whip egg white mixture on medium high until it has turned into a thick, glossy meringue the holds stiff peaks. If using a stand mixer, switch to the paddle attachment, turn speed to low and add butter one piece at a time. Continue to add butter about every 20 seconds and mix until smooth. The mixture might look curdled for a while, but just keep mixing until emulsified. Add vanilla.

Tip: Make sure your bowl is clean without a trace of fat so that the meringue can whip up fully. Any residual fat such as butter or oil will prevent the egg whites from whipping up.

2- 6″ round chocolate cakes
1- batch Swiss meringue buttercream frosting
white chocolate bar
sprigs of rosemary and winter savory (optional)
powdered sugar

Trim and discard the domes off the top of each cake with a bread knife. Then, slice each cake half, giving you 4 layers total. Place 1 layer on a cardboard cake board or a cake stand or platter if you do not have one. Add approximately 1/2 – 2/3 cup buttercream and smooth with an offset spatula. Continue with the next 3 cake layers, making sure each layer is as level and even as possible.

Add a thin layer of buttercream to the outside of the cake, called a crumb coat, to seal everything in. Place entire cake in the fridge for approximately 20 minutes or until the buttercream has solidified and makes for a sturdy cake.

Add the remaining buttercream to frost the outside of the cake. To add texture, drag your offset spatula to make a zig zag motion across the cake.

Cut rosemary and savory to varying lengths. These will be your trees so similar heights will look best. Invert sprigs so leaf tips are pointing downwards, then dust with powdered sugar.  Place sprigs onto cake in a cluster to resemble a forest, pressing stem into buttercream to hold it in place.

Using a grater or zester, shave chocolate bar into very fine pieces to resemble snow. Continue until you have about 1/4 cup. Gently sprinkle chocolate shavings onto the cake with a spoon. Store cake in fridge, dusting additional powdered sugar before serving if necessary.

Image via freutcake


  1. this is SO pretty! i love it :)))

    xo, Brikena

  2. That cake is adorable! And I have to agree...cupcakes would probably be easier..but this would look so pretty!

  3. This is so cute! My husband and mom both have winter birthdays so I cam definitely going to try this next year. And how did I never think of buying a cake and frosting it myself? Genius!

  4. such a beautiful cake...and ps: who wouldve thought mayo would be included in the ingredients?! hehe


  5. I love the simplicity of the cake! And a chocolate cake is always a winner in my book.

  6. That cake is precious!! Such a cute idea!

  7. this is such a gorgeous cake! I looove the trees.
    Rebecca @ tr[i]b[e]cca

  8. This is such a beautiful cake. I'm not sure I would even want to eat it :) Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  9. Yummy! I love those little rosemary tree toppers.

  10. Cutest cake ever!

  11. Oh I saw this on Freutcake and wanted one made for my own birthday! Happy birthday Ryan! Have fun at the party! xo

  12. Oh my goodness - this is delightful. I am copying! xx


  13. How cute is this?! And happy birthday to your guy!

  14. i would definitely have to agree. yay us!

  15. i know, i can't believe i have never thought of it. so simple and so cute!

  16. i'm so glad you liked it jessica!
    thanks for stopping by :)

  17. i know, so simple too with the rosemary!

  18. mine too! with some buttercream frosting...perfect :)

  19. it was really nice because i ALWAYS stretch myself too thin at dinner parties, so not having to worry too much about the dessert made it that much more enjoyable :)