Promised a birthday cake for 2 of my good friends' joint birthday celebration. Having attempted Chef Joycelyn Shu's Coconut Cupcakes with Luxurious Buttercream with success last month, I decided to take the plunge in attempting my first ever layer cake. Was actually quite ambitious since I have never baked a layer cake before and I dared make such an offer for a birthday celebration! (I was sure my gang would be very forgiving :p)
In fact, I wasn't even sure I could make it, as I worked late for the past work week and had no time to purchase the ingredients. Had to scramble on Friday evening to grab the essential stuff, rushed to another gathering for a while before finally starting prep close to 11pm.
The plan - just bake the cakes and let them chill in the fridge for a night (so that they would be easier to handle). The buttercream would be churned in the morning; then completed with decoration in the afternoon as the celebration was in the evening.
The cake batter is designed for 2 x 9 inches round cake pan. Both cakes would be levelled and split into 2 halves each to make a 4-layer cake. Initially was thinking that if I wasn't confident or there wasn't enough time, I could simply do a 2-layer cake and skip the levelling. But silly me forgot that my cake pan is only 7 inches. In the end, both cakes turned out taller which made more sense to split them into halves otherwise each layer would be too thick. (Later on after the cake was assembled, hubby gave me a deadpan look and told me I could just do 3 layer cake which didn't occurred to me then. Uh-huh.)
Anyways, by the time the cakes were cooled to room temperature and all washing done, it was already close to 2am. Blame it on my puny convention oven which could only manage 1 cake pan at a time plus silly me used 7 inch pan which meant that baking and cool down time had to be lengthened. Time to upgrade the oven! (hubby, can you hear me ;p)
The interesting and tricky part was on Saturday. While churning the buttercream, the 2 cakes were carefully prepared for the levelling (toothpicks inserted round the cakes at 2 inches interval, small paring knife to cut a track and finally a serrated knife sliced the cakes into halves). Although tedious, this was quite a useful method for rather equally levelled halves of the cakes. Then modest amounts of buttercream (didn't want to have overdose of buttercream) was slathered on the cakes, layer by layer, finally combining to a tall 4-layer cake! After priming the full cake with a thin layer of buttercream and let it set with the crumbs in the fridge for a while, came the most tedious and difficult part - slathering and smoothly the buttercream. No matter how carefully I smoothed the buttercream both top and sides, it just wasn't even. I guess it must take copious patience and time to achieve Chef Joycelyn Shu's stunningly simplicity.
In the end, I gave up and had to rush to Bunalun at Chip Bee Gardens to fetch some toasted coconut to hide my less than adequate buttercream decoration. Voila! The toasted coconut certainly did the trick and my cake instantly turned into an atas looking cake which could possibly pass off as a store-bought!
Proudly presenting my first ever Layer Cake! The toasted coconut looked a little like sliced almond, didn't they?
During the celebration in the evening, was really anxious to find out how the sliced cakes would turn out.
The cross-sectional view. Cake turned out a little too dense and crumbly. Cut wasn't clean and neat enough as I forgot to bring my serrated knife and had to make do with a plastic knife (given free along with store-bought cakes).
I realised that baking a layer cake involves much more labour and patience as compared to cupcake which requires less effort. With this successful trial, I believe I would be inspired enough to attempt more layer cakes. More to come, hopefully.