Ombre Cake

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The Scoop:

Just over 2 years ago, in August of 2011, my job sent me on a business trip with the “new girl.”  Maria had started work back in January and I’d been training her for the last 6 months or so.  When I first met Maria, I was secretly intimidated by her.  She’s got a awesome sense of style (with really cute shoes!), is a year older than me, and this was her second “real” job. [looking back, its pretty funny to admit that those things intimidated me!] I quickly developed a friend-crush on her though when I discovered how sweet and friendly she was.

We were flying out to Whidbey Island (a small island in the Puget Sounds, north of Seattle) for a 3 day conference, and since neither of us had been before, we both decided to spend the weekend following the conference exploring Seattle.  We had the best time.  Seriously.  The best time.  We treked all over the city, had lunch in the space needle, and went to a Mariner’s game.  On our last night in Washington state we stayed up past midnight gossiping like old high school friends.  My friend crush on Maria had turned into a full on friendship.

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Less than 2 months after our adventures in Seattle, Maria came into work on Monday morning with big news, and a big ring on her finger!  I couldn’t have been happier for my new friend, and celebrated by bringing a homemade, ring shaped cake to the office later that week to celebrate her engagement with our coworkers.  Maria’s engagement occurred right around the same time that I launched The Spatularettes, and from the very beginning she (and although I hadn’t met him yet) and her fiance Calvin were some of my biggest fans.  Maria always had suggestions for new recipes and has been a great source of inspiration along the way!  (look here and here and here)!

In the two years that have followed their engagement, my friendship with Maria and Calvin has grown both in depth and in substance, so I was completely honored when they eventually asked me to be a part of their wedding party.  They are the kind of friends a single gal dreams about, constantly encouraging and supporting; but also trying to set me up and giving the big ‘hell no’ or the final stamp of approval when I bring a date around.  [I jokingly refer to them as Patty (Stanger-millionaire matchmaker) and Chris (Harrison-host of the bachelor) for the number of times they’ve kept my love life in mind over the last two years.]

Always a lover of my cake recipes, I knew I wanted to surprise Maria with something extra special for her Bachelorette Party.  This ombre cake is without a doubt the most intimidating cake I’ve ever tried to master, but trust me when I say that it is way easier than it looks!  Remember that Enhance A Cake Mix recipe we talked about yesterday?  Well that is where we are going to start today.  Follow these basic tips and I promise that an obre cake is something you can totally pull off as well!!

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The Goods:

INGREDIENTS:

Cake:

  • 1 Box white cake mix (and the ingredients called for on the back)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbs (3 sticks plus 2 Tbs) butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbs heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract

Special Equipment:

  • 6 inch round baking pans
  • parchment paper

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The Deets:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour, four 6 inch round baking pans** then line the bottom of each with parchment paper.  I know it will be tempting to skip these steps, but  when making a layer cake you really don’t want to take chances with sticking.

Follow the directions to make the batter from the Enhance A Cake Mix recipe.  Once the batter is complete, divide it evenly between 4 medium sized bowls.  Leave the batter in one bowl completely white.  Then use red liquid food coloring (or the food coloring of your choice) to dye the remaining bowls of batter varying shades of pink.  Once the batter is your desired color, pour it directly into a prepared baking pan.

Bake the cakes for 20-25 minutes  or until a toothpick tester comes out clean.  Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool for 20 minutes.  Gently run a knife around the edge of each cake, then invert the pan and the cake should easily slide out onto a cooling rack.  Allow the cakes to cool completely.

Once the cakes have cooled, use a large, serrated knife, to trim each layer to 1 inch tall.

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Follow these instructions for my favorite whipped frosting.  Any buttercream will work well too, just be sure to  use a recipe that makes at least 4 cups of  frosting.  You’ll need to divide  the frosting into the following quantities, leaving 1 batch white, and using food coloring to dye the remaining batches various shades of pink.

  • 1 2/3 cup white frosting (1 cup for the layers, 2/3 cup for piping)
  • 2/3 cup light pink frosting
  • 2/3 cup medium pink frosting
  • 1 cup bright pink frosting (2/3 cup for  piping, 1/3 cup for top of cake)

To assemble the cake, place the white layer on a serving plate and spread the top of it with 1/3 cup white frosting.  Place the light pink layer on top, and spread with another 1/3 cup of white frosting.  Repeat with the medium pink layer and the bright pink layer.  Do not spread white frosting on top  of  the  cake.  Refrigerate the layers for a half hour before continuing.

While the cake is chilling, fill 4 piping bags fit with the Wilton Open Star Tip each with 2/3 cup  of frosting.  There should be 1 white bag, 1 light pink bag, 1 medium pink bag, and 1 bright pink bag.  The frosting will probably be quite soft, so refrigerate the  bags for about 20 minutes before you begin decorating.

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To create the ruffled pattern pictured in this post, start with the white piping bag  at the bottom of the cake.  Place the frosting tip 1/4 inch from the cake, and give  the bag a firm squeeze from the top,  while simultaneously flicking your wrist, just enough to make a quick squirt of frosting.  Repeat the motion around  the entire circumference of the cake, making a tight spiral up the  cake  until the white frosting has been completed.  Be sure to move quickly so the  heat of your hands doesn’t melt  the frosting  in the bag.  Continue the same pattern  with the light pink bag, followed by the medium pink bag, followed by the bright pink bag, until the sides of  the cake have been covered entirely.  Use the remaining 1/3 cup  of bright  pink frosting to spread a thin layer on top of the cake.  Decorate  and embellish the top as you see fit.

If the frosting in the bags or on the cake feels like  it is getting too soft, take a break and return everything to the refrigerator to  chill  for 15 minutes before going back to work.

And  if you are really intimidated by this cake, skip the piping bags and just spread the cake  with a thick layer of your favorite frosting.  You’ll still have those beautiful ombre layers hiding inside!

**6 inch baking pans are available at your local Michael’s or any well stocked baking store.  The 6 inch layers are much more manageable to work with than larger 8 or 9 inch layers.

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The Inspiration:

I followed this awesome tutorial over at BS In The Kitchen.

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Fifty (or four) shades of pink…

XOXO,

Tall One

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