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Wedding Cake Icing Help

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Help! I am a rank amateur making a wedding cake for a friend THIS week. I am using a very nice white chocolate cake from Dede Wilson's "The Wedding Cake Book." Since I am not experienced in piping and decorating, I decided to cover it with fresh flowers.

I first tried a white chocolate ganache for the icing, using 3 parts white chocolate (Callebaut) to 1 part cream (well, I only had half & half in the house, so I used that which may be the problem). It turned out runny. I whipped it to a fare-thee-well and that helped some. (I make a bittersweet chocolate ganache that is perfect and I want this to be the same.)

I then made the Italian Meringue Butter Cream, also in Dede Wilson's "The Wedding Cake Book." It was nice, but both the ganache and the buttercream stayed very soft -- they formed no crust. I am afraid that the flowers will schmush the icing and leave it an awful mess. I tried stiffening the chocolate ganache with powdered sugar. It was WAY too sweet!

I need some fast advice. My basic questions are:

Was my ganache runny because I was using half & half instead of cream?

If I add proportionally MORE white chocolate until the ganache gets stiff enough, will it form a nice dry crust so I can put the flowers on it?

Is it typical for the Italian Meringue Butter Cream to stay so soft? I see flowers on the cakes in Wilson's book. Is it acceptable to serve cake that is all messed up with marks from the flowers?

This isn't a terribly formal wedding, but I don't want the cake to be a total mess.

Thank for any help you can give me. I've been all over the web and your site was the first I had any confidence in after reading the great discussion threads.

Lynne F.
Be Glad. Be Good. Be Brave.
Elenor Hodgman Porter
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Be Glad. Be Good. Be Brave.
Elenor Hodgman Porter
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post #2 of 17
Hi Lynne,
I've never made a ganache with anything but cream, so I'm not sure what effect the 1/2 and 1/2 had on your final product.

A white ganache (with Callebaut) is 3 to one choc. to cream, and that is by WEIGHT, not volume. Once you have whipped it, there is no going back, but a ganache can be re-melted if it is too thin, and extra melted choc. can be added.

For an amateur, it's probably not easy to define what the liquid consistency will be like when it's chilled. I assume that you have fully chilled your buttercream and white ganache before you judge how it'll set. An Italian buttercream will set quite firm. Post your recipe, and maybe we can figure out what the problem is.

The marks from the flowers isn't a big deal after the cake has been sliced. If you are worried, though, you can always sprinkle white choc. shavings on the plated slices.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
First, thank you for responding to me so quickly! I did use weight, not volume for the ganache. It's good to know I can reheat and add more chocolate.

I didn't chill the buttercream or ganache before using it. I guess I assumed that even if it firmed up in the fridge, it would just come back to being soft when it reached room temp again. So, does it permanently change the consistency if it is chilled?

I don't think I did anything wrong when executing the recipe. And I'm hesitant to post the recipe since it is copyrighted.

I just put the practice cakes in the fridge and will see what happens. What would you use as an icing for this situation? I greatly appreciate your help and support!

Lynne
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Elenor Hodgman Porter
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Be Glad. Be Good. Be Brave.
Elenor Hodgman Porter
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post #4 of 17
Beating incorporates air, making it "fluffier" and a little drier. Also, are you using UNTREATED florals specifically for cakes? As far as marks, if serving as a "souvenier" piece, don't worry about it. If serving as dessert, leave the florals as "garnish".
***
Inside me is a skinny woman trying to get out.....I usually shut the witch up with chocolate!
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Inside me is a skinny woman trying to get out.....I usually shut the witch up with chocolate!
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post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Bigbuns. Air = drier. Makes all the sense. I wish I knew a lot more of the physics and chemistry of baking and cooking. I love Alton Brown's Good Eats on the Food Network.

I worked with a florist who knows they are for a cake - no pesticides, and I'll wash them with fruit-veg wash. Thanks for your reply -- Lynne
Be Glad. Be Good. Be Brave.
Elenor Hodgman Porter
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Be Glad. Be Good. Be Brave.
Elenor Hodgman Porter
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post #6 of 17
That's great that you checked with the florist. Also make sure that you wrap the stems in floral tape if they are going to be inserted into the cake. Even if they are organic doesn't mean they're edible. I think that washing your flowers could have adverse effects on them. I wouldn't do that.

An Italian b-cream will stay quite soft at room temp. . That's what gives it such a flawless finish, as compared to a stiffer icing. No, chilling doesn't permanently affect the consistency--- I misunderstood you. Chilling will firm it up, the same way it firms up butter. Italian buttercream is a perfect icing for a wedding cake. I use it often!

After you have iced the cakes, chill them individually before stacking and decorating. Remember to insert supports betwen the tiers!
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for your guidance. It's great to "have a net under me" as I blunder along. I think I will use the buttercream, as it tastes the best -- not too sweet. I'll chill, then put the flowers on and hope like heck they don't slide around in transport (it's about a 45 min drive - yikes!). And mostly I'll remember that it's not heart surgery -- nobody's going to die if it isn't perfect. Thanks again! I'll post something next week to let you know how it went.

(I've never used a forum on the Internet before and I'm just astonished that perfect strangers donate their time, concern and expertise like this. In an era of cynicism and mistrust, it's enough to keep one's faith in humanity alive! Thank you for that and the great advice!)

Lynne
Be Glad. Be Good. Be Brave.
Elenor Hodgman Porter
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Be Glad. Be Good. Be Brave.
Elenor Hodgman Porter
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post #8 of 17
I always have something to add. I think I read everything, but don't hesitate to bump up the choc percentage in your ganache. Chill till firm, them beat with a paddle and incorporate air to make fluffy. This is also when I add any essence I might want.
Your doing the best thing you can do, practice, good luck
Jeff
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #9 of 17
One more thing:

Make sure the cake is well chilled before you leave for the wedding. In 45 minutes, the icing won't soften much.

(I agree; ChefTalk is a wonderful community!) :)
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Jeff! And thanks again, Momoreg! I am emptying the refrigerator so I can chill the cakes -- two 3-layer cakes with 14" bases! Good excuse to clean out the 47 jars, each with 2 teaspoons of Hoisin sauce, interesting chutneys, etc. Eeeek!
Lynne
Be Glad. Be Good. Be Brave.
Elenor Hodgman Porter
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Be Glad. Be Good. Be Brave.
Elenor Hodgman Porter
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post #11 of 17
The only reason why I like to entertain. I not only find it calming but cleansing(frige) :D
A neighbor just dumped off 4 fresh red fish. Kids scootering, neighbors gathered to look at our new driveway, of course everybody is waiting to see what I'm doing with the fish. To feed approx 15 I'm thinking 1" strips blackened for fish tocos.
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #12 of 17
:D :D :D I had to smile when I read momoreg's suggestion to chill the cakes. The very first wedding cake I did many moons ago was delivered on a 100 degree day about an hour away, and I had to go through the hills and dales of some back roads in New Hampshire. Thankfully, I had a Ford Explorer. I covered the entire back in that rubber kitchen shelving stuff, plunked the 14" layer - STACKED ALREADY with a 12" layer - directly on it! The top layer was in a small box with the rubber stuff in the bottom and then placed in the car. I prayed allllllll the way! It didn't budge and it was a
gorgeous cake. The kicker? I probably lost all profit in gasoline and ac! Not only did I have the ac cranked all day, I had to keep the car ac going for about 30 minutes, just to get it cool enough to put the cake in! Oh well,
live and learn.
***
Inside me is a skinny woman trying to get out.....I usually shut the witch up with chocolate!
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Inside me is a skinny woman trying to get out.....I usually shut the witch up with chocolate!
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post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Dear bigbuns -- I love that story! You must have good cake karma (or car-ma) -- OK slap me. Thankfully it's only forecasted to be around 70 degrees, but I have no AC and a small Toyota. It has a hatch back, so there's room. I may put some bags of ice (well sealed!) in back just to cool it an extra couple of degrees. I don't have the nerves to do this kind of thing very often. What on earth kind of people are pastry chefs anyway??? Nerves of steel, endlessly patient and adventuresome, I think!

Thanks for sharing your story with me!
Lynne
Be Glad. Be Good. Be Brave.
Elenor Hodgman Porter
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Be Glad. Be Good. Be Brave.
Elenor Hodgman Porter
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post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

A thank you gift.

Dear all-- The cakes survived transport, I survived and it was a smash hit! I made a White Chocolate cake with a White Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream from Dede Wilson's "The Wedding Cake Book." I also made a cake that is known around here simply as "The Cake." I started with a recipe I found years ago and changed and developed it over the past 10 years. I've NEVER seen a reaction to cake the way people react to this cake. It's an absolute phenomenon! After the wedding yesterday, people were standing around the empty cake stand picking up crumbs to eat! I've been offered any amount of money I named to make it for restaurants. People who don't like cake or chocolate love this cake. I know this sounds terribly immodest, but, you'll just have to make it to see for yourself! In appreciation for your advice and support I'm giving you the recipe below. Let me know if you have questions.

Cake (this is from Bon Appetite about 10 years ago) (1 recipe fills 1 round 14" X 2" pan or 2 round 9" X 2" pans)
2 C espresso, room temp
3C sifted cake flour
2/3 C plus 4 tsp sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp (generous) baking powder
1C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
3 C sugar
4 large eggs, room temp
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped, melted, cooled to barely lukewarm

Preheat oven to 325degrees F. Butter 4 cake pans (9" round). Butter bottom and sides of the pan. Line bottom and sides with parchment paper. Butter and flour paper. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and baking powder into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, using electric mixer, cream butter until light. Gradually add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat just until combined. Add melted chocolate and beat until just blended. Mix dry ingredients and espresso liquid alternately into batter, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

Divide batter among the pans (half full). Bake until tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans on racks. Wrap in foil or plastic wrap and freeze or refrigerate over night.

Chocolate Genache (Makes 8 cups)
In heavy sauce pan mix, then bring to a boil 2 pints heavy cream, 1/2 C butter, 1/2 C sugar. Remove from heat and add 2 pounds shredded bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. Stir until mixed. Flavor with 2 caps of Williams & Sonoma Orange Oil. Cool at room temperature.

Buttercream
Make a small batch of buttercream and flavor with 1 TB instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 TB warmed Kahlua.

Pastry Cream
In a heavy sauce pan, combine 6 TB flour with 1/2 C heavy cream. When the flour and cream are well incorporated, add another 2-1/2 C heavy cream. Add 1-1/2 tsp salt and 1-1/2 C sugar. Cook over medium heat until thick (stir occasionally). Then beat 12 egg yolks until lemon colored. Whisk small amount of hot sauce into yolks. Now whisk yolks back into cream mixture. Return to medium heat. Stir continuously until thick. Remove from heat. Stir in 3 tsp vanilla. Remove mixture to mixing bowl and stir in 3 TB butter.

Assembly
Torte the cake layers. Brush both sides of each layer with a solution of simple sugar and brandy.

For filling, spread on a layer of ganache, pipe some ganache aound the edge of each layer then spread pastry cream, then buttercream inside the rim of buttercream. Cover cake with ganache (I spread it, but you could also pour it). Decorate as desired. I sometimes make truffles out of ganache, roll in cocoa, put a bit of edible gold leaf on each.

If you make this, I'd love to hear about people's reactions. You will be a god/goddess among your friends or customers!

Thanks again to you all! --Lynne
Be Glad. Be Good. Be Brave.
Elenor Hodgman Porter
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Be Glad. Be Good. Be Brave.
Elenor Hodgman Porter
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post #15 of 17
Well that explains why I have never made this cake. 10 years ago I was only 11 :D
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 

Oh yeah????

Dear Panini -- Shut up! :)
Be Glad. Be Good. Be Brave.
Elenor Hodgman Porter
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Be Glad. Be Good. Be Brave.
Elenor Hodgman Porter
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post #17 of 17
Sounds fab! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

:lips:
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