Happy new year!!!!
It’s a little late, I know. I had grand plans to make this cake for the new year’s party I was invited to, and then I got horribly ill. It’s like the awfulness that was 2016 couldn’t quite let go. Anyways, I already had the pink champagne for this cake, and was overdue for a baking date, so I figured I’d make it a week late!
It…had a few issues. I don’t remember the last time I baked a more disaster ridden cake. All of the individual components turned out perfectly (almost), but they just didn’t seem to want to come together! I wasn’t really happy with how the final product looked, but I have a much better idea of how I would do this in the future.
…at least it tastes good?
I made this cake almost exactly the way Sprinklebakes made it, barring the size of the cake and a few small changes. I’ll post the recipe first, then go over all of my spectacular failures and what I’ve learned. I also made a batch of Betty Crocker cupcakes afterwards to try use the extra pastry cream – there was a lot!
PINK CHAMPAGNE CAKE (3 X 6″ pans)
- 330 g (3 cups) cake flour
- 13.2 g (3 tsp.) baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 224 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 400 g (2 cups) granulated sugar
- 6 egg whites
- 480 g (2 cups) pink champagne / pink sparkling wine
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line 3 – 6″ cake pans.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
- In a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar.
- Add egg whites one at a time to the butter mixture, and mix well.
- Mix in the flour mixture and the champagne in three alternating additions, starting and ending with flour. Don’t overmix.
- Divide the batter between the pans and bake for ~30 – 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let the cakes cool for 15 – 20 minutes, then flip onto a wire rack.
PINK CHAMPAGNE PASTRY CREAM
Note: You may want to halve this recipe. I made the full size to try use up some egg yolks.
- 30 g (¼ cup) cornstarch
- 240 mL (1 cup) whipping cream
- 2 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 240 mL (1 cup) champagne
- 125 g (½ cup + 2 tbsp.) granulated sugar
- vanilla bean
- 56 g (¼ cup) unsalted butter
- 1 drop pink food colour
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk the cornstarch in half of the whipping cream.
- Whisk the eggs and yolks into the cornstarch mixture.
- In a saucepan, heat the remaining cream, champagne, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds at medium heat.
- When the champagne mixture begins to boil, remove from heat.
- In a thin stream, add 1/3 of the boiling mixture to the egg mixture while whisking rapidly to prevent scrambling.
- When the egg mixture is tempered, add it in a thin stream to the boiling mixture and whisk rapidly.
- Bring the mixture up to at least 72C (binding temperature of cornstarch), but ideally to a boil.
- Remove from heat and mix in the food colour and butter.
- Leave to cool for about 10 minutes. Put a piece of saran wrap on the surface of the cream, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Scraping the vanilla bean
PINK CHAMPAGNE BUTTERCREAM
- 224 g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 1 drop pink food colouring
- 2 tbsp. champagne
- vanilla extract
- Cream the butter and sugar with a stand mixer.
- Add in food colouring, champagne, and vanilla extract.
- Add cream/milk or icing sugar as needed to get the desired texture.
This was about where things went horribly awry for me. Here is the general summary of what went wrong:
A) Pepto Bismol coloured icing:
The icing was WAY too pink. Gel food colouring escalates from rose to pepto bismol very quickly. I was mildly devastated that I had managed to ruin my whole cake aesthetic so quickly, so I ran over to a corner store and picked up two white chocolate bars. I melted those into the icing, added more icing sugar, and added a bit of cream. It didn’t go as light as I wanted it to, but it certainly was a less appalling shade of pink.
Nope. Nope. So much nope.
B) Structural integrity of pastry cream:
I piped dams of icing and filled the cakes with pastry cream, and initially things looked really promising. Then, I started icing the cake. I noticed pretty quickly that my cake looked a little drunk (ha ha) and realized that the tiers were slipping off of each other. Shortly afterwards, the pastry cream breached the dam and starting oozing out. I should have given up at this point, but I kept trying. Needless to say, I made everything worse and stuck everything in the freezer before my cake completely fell apart.
So far so good.
C) Generally shoddy appearance:
The freezing managed to halt the deterioration of the cake, but created its own issue. How does one smooth a frozen cake? I tried to thaw the cake just enough to fix the icing (and used a hot spatula), but it was to no avail. If the cake actually warmed enough to do anything useful, it started slipping even more. I ended up just covering the top in enough sprinkles to obscure the amateur icing job.
Maybe I should just consider this cake to be representative of 2016?
And an equally drunk cupcake
There are a few things I would do differently if I were to make this cake again:
- I would put two sections of buttercream in the filling to add some integrity, and then I would freeze it. I wouldn’t start decorating the cake until the inner part was frozen together.
- I would not make anything that looks remotely like pepto bismol.
- I would probably make it as an 8″ cake instead of a 6″ cake to reduce the pressure on a given layer.
I should point out that every part of the cake tastes great! It was just the assembly that was less great.