Pink Champagne Cake

Roopa

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. 

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…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! 

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PINK CHAMPAGNE CAKE (3 X 6″ pans)

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line 3 – 6″ cake pans.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. 
  3. In a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar.
  4. Add egg whites one at a time to the butter mixture, and mix well. 
  5. Mix in the flour mixture and the champagne in three alternating additions, starting and ending with flour. Don’t overmix. 
  6. Divide the batter between the pans and bake for ~30 – 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
  7. 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. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the cornstarch in half of the whipping cream. 
  2. Whisk the eggs and yolks into the cornstarch mixture. 
  3. In a saucepan, heat the remaining cream, champagne, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds at medium heat.
  4. When the champagne mixture begins to boil, remove from heat.
  5. In a thin stream, add 1/3 of the boiling mixture to the egg mixture while whisking rapidly to prevent scrambling.
  6. When the egg mixture is tempered, add it in a thin stream to the boiling mixture and whisk rapidly. 
  7. Bring the mixture up to at least 72C (binding temperature of cornstarch), but ideally to a boil. 
  8. Remove from heat and mix in the food colour and butter. 
  9. 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. 
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Scraping the vanilla bean


PINK CHAMPAGNE BUTTERCREAM

INGREDIENTS

  • 224 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 drop pink food colouring
  • 2 tbsp. champagne
  • vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cream the butter and sugar with a stand mixer. 
  2. Add in food colouring, champagne, and vanilla extract. 
  3. Add cream/milk or icing sugar as needed to get the desired texture. 
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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. 

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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. 

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So far so good.

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Looking promising!

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Disaster!

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? 

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And an equally drunk cupcake


There are a few things I would do differently if I were to make this cake again:

  1. 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. 
  2. I would not make anything that looks remotely like pepto bismol. 
  3. 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. 


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