Saturday, May 8, 2010

Zombie Wedding Cake (Part 1)

When some friends got engaged my wife and I jumped at the chance to make their wedding cake. The couple decided they wanted a zombie wedding cake reminiscent of the cake made by Mike’s Amazing Cakes.

This and the next post is about the making of that cake. This time I’ll focus on the baking and making of the cake and fillings. The next post will be about the decoration and assembly of the cake.

The wedding cake was a four tier stacked cake. The top and bottom layers were a chocolate cake with an orange filling and vanilla buttercream icing. The two middle tiers were red velvet cake with a Nutella-Valrhona ganache and vanilla buttercream icing.

For the chocolate cake, I used the High Ratio Chocolate cake from Baking and Pastry: Mastering The Art And Craft by the Culinary Institute of America. The cake contains more sugar and butter than a normal cake. It turns out very moist and quite chocolaty. The orange filling was adapted from a lemon filling from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.

For the red velvet cake, I adapted the Joy of Baking’s red velvet recipe. The Nutella ganache was adapted from the ganache recipe in Baking and Pastry: Mastering The Art And Craft. The vanilla buttercream was also adapted from that book.

The four cake pans

Here are the cake pans for the four tiers. Each tier was made from two layers of cake. The tiers were made from rounds that were 14 inches, 11 inches, 8 inches, and 5 inches in diameter.


This is a shot of a majority of the ingredients. Not everything is pictured here since I forgot to include some things, but this gives you the magnitude of the ingredients needed to make a cake of this size. Though it turns out I didn’t need quite that much cocoa, flour, eggs, or powdered sugar.

Parchment lined cake pan

Each pan needed prepared before receiving the cake batter. The pan’s bottom needs sprayed with a spray canola oil. Then a parchment circle is placed in the bottom. Then the whole thing get sprayed with a flour infused spray oil such as Baker’s Joy. This ensures that the cakes will release effortlessly from the pan after baking.

Chocolate cake dry ingredients

The first cakes that I made were the chocolate cakes. First the dry ingredients get measured and mixed, including the cocoa.

Chocolate cake wet ingredients

Then the wet ingredients get measured and mixed.

First wet ingredient introduction

A third of the wet ingredients and the softened butter get mixed into the dry ingredients.

More wet ingredients get mixed in

Another third of the wet ingredients gets mixed in, followed by the last third.

Chocolate cake all mixed

Here is the final cake batter after mixing in the last third of wet ingredients. At this point the batter is much lighter in color and ready to bake.

Chocolate cake ready to bake

The batter goes into the prepared cake pan and then baked. The 14 inch cake took about an hour and a half to bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, while the 5 inch cake took about 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Chocolate cake all baked

Here is the cake after baking.

Close up of the chocolate cake

And a close up shot of the edge of the cake. You can see that it baked out and over the top of the pan and formed a bit of a mushroom top. That is okay and just gets trimmed up right before decorating.

Cooling chocolate cake

After cooling for a few minutes in the pan, the cake should be turned out and cooled to room temperature on a wire rack.

Close up of chocolate cake

This is a close up of the chocolate cake again, showing the fine texture of the cake.

Next up is the red velvet cake.

Creamed butter

Red velvet cake is made slighly differently. First the butter gets beat in the mixer until it’s light and slightly fluffy.

Red velvet cake dry ingredients

The dry ingredients get mixed separately.

Butter with eggs, sugar, and vanilla

Sugar, eggs, and vanilla get mixed into the butter.

Red dyed buttermilk

A red food dye gets mixed with some buttermilk and then set aside.

Red velvet batter ready for baking

Then the dry ingredients and buttermilk get mixed in, alternating between the two in rough third. Baking soda and white vinegar get quickly mixed together then incorporated into the cake batter. The whole thing gets quickly put into a prepared cake pan and baked.

Cooling red velvet cake

After baking, the cake cools for a bit in the pan then, again, flipped and cooled on a wire rack.

Close up of the red velvet cake

Here is a close up of the cooling red velvet cake.

After the cakes have completely cooled, they were wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in the fridge overnight. This stops them from drying out and gives you more time to make all the other pieces of the cake.

Next, the fillings get made.

Chopping chocolate

The Nutella-Valrhona chocolate ganache is the first filling. It starts by chopping the chocolate into small rough pieces. I find that a sharp serrated knife works well for this. I use a strong, sharp bread knife.

Chopped chocolate

The chocolate goes into a metal bowl and then set aside.

Heavy cream boils

Then, heavy cream is brought just to a boil.

Heavy cream poured over chocolate

And poured over the chocolate. After about a minute, the mixture can be slowly stirred until it comes together.

Chocolate ganache

Here is what the ganache looks like after coming together.

Nutella added to the ganache

Then the Nutella gets mixed into the ganache. This also takes some time as the Nutella has a very different consistency. You can vary the ratio of Nutella to ganache to get a different final consistency and taste. I ended up using two 13 oz jars of Nutella for about 2 pounds of chocolate and 32 ounces of heavy cream. It resulted in a semi-hard ganache that could be spread easily at room temperature.

Orange zest

The second filling is an orange curd filling. It starts with juicing and zesting about three oranges.

Sugar and corn starch mixture

A water, sugar, and cornstarch mixture is heated over medium-low heat until it boils for about a minute.

Thickened sugar-cornstarch mixture

At that stage, the mixture will get really thick and be translucent.

Finished orange filling

Butter, orange zest, and the orange juice get mixed in. At this point the mixture is done, and just needs to cool. It should be moved to a bowl to cool with plastic wrap pressed down on it and placed in the fridge for a few hours.

That’s all for the cake ingredients (see this previous post for the vanilla buttercream). Next time I’ll write about the decorating and assembly of the cake.

1 comment:

  1. This looks so great! Face it, the cake is the only reason to get all tricked out for Bridezilla's big day. You know at least half the couples will be divvying up what remains of the wedding loot within a fairly short time. A memorable cake is always my favorite take away from the event.