An easy to make Chocolate Cake with Italian Meringue Buttercream that can be decorated in many ways. Use your imagination and go for it!
Showstopping Birthday Cake Delights
Zuzu is a ballet dancer. And she just celebrated her 17th birthday. It was a great occasion to make her a cake. But, what kind of cake theme can you choose for a gracious ballerina?
Obviously, a ballet theme. Yes, I know, I am that predictable... Zuzu likes chocolate cake and white frosting, so I chose for her a fondant-covered chocolate cake, infused with an orange flavored syrup, Italian meringue buttercream and a layer of orange preserve.
How to decorate
I started by making part of the decorations. On the center of the cake, I placed a pair of ballet shoes made out of pink fondant.
The shoes had to dry out for about a day before I was able to put them on the cake. I used a template I found online.
I added the ribbons on the day I finished the cake.
For the ribbons, I used a simple Pastry and Pasta cutter, and to make the rest of the decorations, I used my Wilton fondant tools, Wilton Fondant 9 Inch Rolling Pin. For coloring the fondant, I used the AmeriColor gel. To cover the cake with fondant, I used the Fondant smoother.
For the cake border, I used the silicone molds.
I do not have a picture of the cake inside, but the layers came out beautifully, the cake was moist, and the orange preserves brought an elegant, subtle note to the buttercream. Overall, Zuzu was happy with the cake and loved her fondant ballet shoes.
Chocolate Cake with Italian Meringue Buttercream
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- Optional: White Fondant for decoration 1 ½ lb
Italian Meringue Buttercream
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 4 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 pound butter 4 sticks
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Orange Preserves optional
Syrup for the cake:
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Line two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans or one 9x13 inch rectangular cake pan with parchment paper. Grease the paper and the sides of the pan.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda.
- Add the milk, vegetable oil and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes, until smooth.
- Add the eggs and beat for another minute.
- Pour batter evenly into 2 round pans or into the single rectangular pan. Slam each pan against the counter once or twice to eliminate any large air bubbles.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick poked into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert it on a rack, peel off the paper and let it cool completely before decorating.(Recipe from "The Clueless Baker")
Syrup for the cake:
- In a medium saucer bring water and sugar to a boil. Remove from the heat and let it cool. Take a silicone brush or a pastry brush and brush the cake with this syrup, making sure to cover the sides of the cake as well.
Italian Meringue Buttercream:
- In a small saucer pan bring sugar and water to a boil.
- Place egg whites and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Whip egg whites at medium-high speed until stiff but not dry; do not overbeat!
- Let the sugar and water boil until it reaches 235F. When the syrup reaches the temperature (use a candy thermometer to check), remove it from the stove.
- Slowly pour the hot syrup into the meringue steadily with the mixer still on high.
- Beat the frosting for 7-10 minutes until the outside of the bowl is at room temperature.
- Beat in butter by the tablespoon. The butter will deflate the frosting a bit, but that's ok.
- Add vanilla.
- If icing curdles, don't panic. Keep beating until smooth.
- Note: Egg whites are NOT raw in this recipe. The egg whites cook at 145-150F, therefore, slowly adding the 235F hot syrup over them, will ensure that the egg whites are safe to eat.
- Cakes or cupcakes decorated with buttercream generally keep up to 3 days, stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Serve buttercream at room temperature.
Assemble the cake:
- Brush each cake with the syrup, making sure the sides of the cake are also moist. Spread a layer of orange preserves over the bottom layer of the cake and cover with buttercream using a cake spatula.
- Place the second cake on top of the buttercream, then cover the cake with a layer of buttercream all around. The first layer of buttercream is called crumb coat, as it keeps the crumbs of the cake in place. Place the cake in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes until the frosting sets.
- If you use fondant, like me, the cake is ready now to apply the layer of fondant. For a 9 inch cake, I used about 1 ½ pounds of white fondant.
- Decorate based on preference.