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Lemon Raspberry Cake and Chocolate Truffle Cakes, A Wedding Cake Made with Love

It was a first-class wedding all the way around. Five international food stations featured thoughtful, delicious fare. I hung out at the taco bar with vegetarian choices. The groom is passionate about wine and spirits; and we imbibed fine, smooth sparkling wine and 100% agave tequila. We danced to personally choreographed music playlists by the couple’s industry cohorts. The bride’s bouquet was stunning and simple, just like everything else. And I was honored to contribute a wedding cake made with love.

Tricia's wedding cakes--triple lemon and chocolate. A wedding cake made with love.

Last January, when my niece Tricia and her fiancé JP came to Park City for the Sundance Film Festival they gave us a glimpse of the magical party location, how many invitees and so forth. The guest count would be close to 200, and as Tricia pointed out, about 15% of them were Hallorans–my parent’s progeny. Right then I volunteered to make their cake.

A wedding cake made with love Tricia and JP's art project

Tricia and JP’s art project

Over the next six months Tricia and I emailed each other about cakes. Tricia sent a scanned photo of a magazine wedding cake she liked, and their “art project”, a paper mockup showing their newly purchased cake pedestals with just the perfect tiering. Wedding guests would have two choices, chocolate truffle cake or lemon raspberry cake.

As I shopped for cake ingredients, buying more than the norm, another customer asked why so many raspberries. When I told her they were for the filling of my niece’s wedding cake, she said, “That’s a nice gift.” Yes it was—a gift of love, a wish for many years of wedded bliss.

I divided the work into stages, over three days. My first baking day was three weeks before the wedding. I baked the lemon cakes, just the layers, and froze them in Deer Valley’s walk-in freezer.

The chocolate cakes I baked a week out. While they were in the oven, I made coffee syrup, truffle filling and a batch of vanilla-flavored meringue buttercream. The next day I filled and assembled and crumb-coated the chocolate cakes, triple-wrapped them in plastic wrap, and hauled them to Deer Valley’s freezer.

Crumb coat for chocolate a wedding cake made with love

Triple Lemon Cake with raspberries for a wedding cake made with love

From there, the frozen lemon cakes came home with me–to thaw overnight.  I prepared the lemon cream and lemon simple syrup so they’d be ready. The next day, I filled and assembled and crumb-coated the lemon cakes, and wrapped them really well for freezer storage.

It was time for a breather. The cake, undecorated, was 85% complete. I still had to transport the cake and finish it in California.

On Thursday of wedding week, 10 pounds of dry ice and our biggest picnic cooler became the new freezer. So the cakes couldn’t wiggle in the ice chest, Robbie stuffed Styrofoam “popcorn” into the spaces that weren’t taken up with cakes or dry ice. Along with the cooler, our suitcases and bikes, we packed another large box with my stand mixer, cake turntable, a pastry bag with assorted tips, frosting spatulas, apron, non-stick rolling pin and fondant rolling mat. We became a bakery on wheels, and headed south into a heat wave.

It was 103 degrees Farenheight at 9pm in Mesquite Nevada, our sleeping stopover for Thursday night. No problem for these cakes though. The next morning we opened the cooler for a look, and said dry ice is a beautiful thing. When we unpacked the cooler at about 11am at the wedding house on Saturday, all of the cakes were still cold. A wedding cake made with love, frozen and ready for transportThe largest lemon one was even a bit frozen in the middle. But since Tricia and JP weren’t cutting the cake for 8 more hours, the cakes could continue to thaw.

putting final touches on a wedding cake made with loveThere at the Malibu hilltop house where the wedding was to be, we commandeered the huge kitchen island, a 6 x 6 foot square butcher-block table. Robbie was an able assistant, ready at every step, including cleanup. Both of us kept our noses to the grindstone for 4 hours, stopping here and there for a sip of beer or to hug early arriving cousins and aunts and nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters and in-laws.  We were entertainment for everyone that walked through the kitchen that afternoon.

Halloran Family at Tricia and JP's wedding

Hallorans

Tricia wanted a soft, light celery green rolled fondant. For hours I would roll, wrap and smooth, roll wrap and smooth. Seven tiers of cake, fondant-wrapped and stacked.

border piping on Tricia's wedding cake made with love

I whipped up royal icing in my trusty Kitchenaid mixer, and piped a bottom border meant to resemble the tucks in Tricia’s Vera Wang dress. As filigree, I piped a continuous “ccccc” around the side of the chocolate cakes and a continuous “lllll” around the side of the lemon cakes, and finally the bride and groom’s 6-inch cake got “JPJPJP”, similar to their invitation. The final gildings were arrangements of voluptuous yellow-green and white orchid blossoms.

Tricia and JP--A wedding cake made with love

These recipe below makes a 9-inch lemon raspberry cake and a 9-inch chocolate truffle cake. There are recipes for the cakes, the fillings, the syrup, the meringue butterceam plus directions for assembly and finish. There is enough for a buttercream to crumb-coat and finish both the lemon and chocolate cakes. You absolutely need a heavy duty stand mixer.

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A Wedding Cake Made With Love
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A Wedding Cake Made with Love

Makes one 9-inch lemon raspberry cake and one 9-inch chocolate truffle cake. Make this cake in steps: bake the cakes, and prep the filling the first day. You can fill and finish the cakes in the same day, but I like to spread the work out, filling on day 2 and finishing on day 3. Each cake serves 12 to 20 people, depending on how small the slices. You absolutely need a heavy-duty stand mixer to make these cakes from start to finish. This recipe gives instructions for finishing the cakes with buttercream--no fondant. If you are interested in fondant finishing cakes, check out this free craftsy demo.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Servings: 2 9-inch round cakes.
Author: Letty Flatt | Letty's Kitchen
Ingredients
Lemon cakes:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter , room temperature (70 degrees F.)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 8 eggs , room temperature
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon oil , optional
Lemon Syrup:
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Lemon Curd:
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into pieces
Lemon Mousse:
  • 1 1/2 cups lemon curd , room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (about 1 envelope) powdered gelatin
  • 1 cup heavy cream
Chocolate Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cold water
Chocolate Truffle Filling:
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces good-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate , chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
Coffee Simple Syrup:
  • 1/2 cup hot strong coffee
  • 1/2 cup sugar
Meringue Buttercream:
  • 1 1/3 cups plus 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 6 egg whites (2/3 cup)
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons liqueur or 1 teaspoon extract flavoring , optional
Instructions
The lemon cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush two 9-inch round pans with melted butter and dust lightly with flour, or spray generously with cooking spray. Line the bottoms with circles of parchment or waxed paper.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until very pale and little tails form as the beater goes around.
  4. Add the sugar and lemon zest and beat well, until mixture is fluffy.
  5. Scrape bowl well. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend before adding the next one.
  6. On low speed, add the dry ingredients, lemon juice and lemon oil, if using. Mix just until incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
  7. Divide into prepared pans. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until light golden in color and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out with just a few crumbs on it.
The lemon syrup:
  1. Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan, gently swirling the pan until the sugar dissolves. Cook just until the syrup is clear, do not boil. Cool. Flavor with lemon juice.
The lemon curd:
  1. Put the egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and butter in the top of a double boiler. Place over gently boiling water; upper pan should not touch water. Cook, whisking often, until the curd thickens, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a clean container. Cover the surface with plastic wrap, so it touches the hot curd, to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate. You can keep lemon curd, refrigerated, up to a week. It also freezes very well.
Lemon Mousse:
  1. Put the lemon curd in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. If the lemon curd is very cold, let it sit at room temperature for about a 1/2 hour, so the warmed gelatin will incorporate easily into the curd, without seizing.
  2. Pour the liqueur into a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over it, and allow to soften, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whip the cream until it comes to soft peaks that hold their shape. Set aside.
  3. Place the bowl of softened gelatin over barely simmering water and stir until the gelatin melts, about a minute.
  4. Whisk the liquid gelatin into the lemon curd. Immediately whisk in 1/3 of the whipped cream; then fold in the rest.
To assemble the lemon cake:
  1. You will need about 2 1/3 cups meringue buttercream flavored with 1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur and 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Have the cakes, lemon syrup, lemon cream and one pint of fresh raspberries at the ready.
  2. With a serrated knife, trim any dome from both cakes so they are flat, not rounded. Trim the sides of the cake if they seem dry. Keeping the knife level and parallel to the bottom of the cake, split each cake in 2 equal and even layers.
  3. Put one of the cake layers on a cardboard circle or a flat serving plate. Moisten it with a quarter of the syrup. Spread on roughly 1/6 of the lemon cream. Press 1/3 of the raspberries into the cream, and then top with more cream—just so it covers the raspberries, using no more than 1/3 of the lemon cream in this layer. Gently flatten a second cake layer on top and brush it with another 1/4 of the syrup.
  4. Repeat the layering, ending with the last cake and syrup. Wrap the assembled cake and refrigerate for about 1 hour, to let the gelatin filling set.
To crumb-coat and frost the lemon cake:
  1. Beat room temperature buttercream until it is very smooth. Add more liqueur and/or lemon juice, to your taste. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and place it on a cake turntable. With a sharp serrated knife, trim the sides of the cake, just enough to even any sharp angles, brushing off any loose crumbs.
  2. With an icing spatula, frost the sides and the top of the cake with the buttercream (less than 1/4-inch thick) to seal in the crumbs and lemon filling. Refrigerate (ideally) overnight to let the buttercream get hard.
  3. Finish the cold cake with another thin coat of buttercream, or rolled fondant. Decorate with a buttercream or royal icing border and optional design.
Make the chocolate cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush two 9-inch round pans with butter and dust lightly with flour, or spray generously with cooking spray. Line the bottoms with a circle of parchment or waxed paper.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda into a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the vinegar, oil, vanilla, and water; then add to the dry ingredients. Mix for 2 minutes–with a hand whisk or with an electric mixer on low speed. Divide into the prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until the centers of the cakes spring back when touched with a finger. Cool completely.
Chocolate Truffle Filling:
  1. Heat the cream on medium-low until it is very hot (do not boil). Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and allow to sit for a few minutes. With a spatula, stir gently until all of the chocolate has melted and the “ganache” is smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool.
  2. When the ganache is cool to touch but not cold, add one quarter of the cream, gently whisking until smooth. Add the remaining cream and whisk by hand until the chocolate cream holds a soft shape. (Be careful; if the ganache is too warm or if you over-whip the ganache and cream, the chocolate cream will curdle.) Refrigerate the chocolate cream until it is very cold and you are ready to assemble the cake.
Coffee Syrup:
  1. Mix the sugar into the hot coffee, stirring until the heat of the coffee melts the sugar. Cool.
Chocolate cake assembly:
  1. You will need about 2 1/3 cups meringue buttercream flavored with 1 to 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract. Have the cakes, coffee syrup, and the chocolate truffle filling at the ready.
  2. With a serrated knife, trim any dome from both cakes so they are flat, not rounded. Trim the sides of the cakes if they seem dry. Keeping the knife level and parallel to the bottom of the cake, split each cake in 2 equal and even layers.
  3. Put one of the cake layers on a cardboard circle or a flat serving plate. Moisten it with a quarter of the syrup. Carefully whisk the cold truffle filling, a few strokes at a time, until you can pull your finger through the filling and it holds good shape. Spread a third of filling on the moistened cake. Gently flatten another cake layer on top and brush it with another quarter of the syrup. Repeat the layering, ending with the last cake and syrup. Wrap the assembled cake and refrigerate for about 1 hour, to let the filling set.
To crumb-coat and frost the chocolate cake:
  1. Beat room temperature buttercream until it is very smooth. Add more vanilla extract if you wish, to your taste.
  2. Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Place it on a cake turntable. With a sharp serrated knife, trim the sides of the cake, just enough to even any sharp angles, brushing off any loose crumbs.
  3. With an icing spatula, frost the sides and the top of the cake with the buttercream (less than 1/4-inch thick) to seal in the crumbs and truffle filling. Refrigerate (ideally) overnight to let the buttercream get hard.
  4. Finish the cake with another thin coat of buttercream, or rolled fondant. Decorate with a buttercream or royal icing border and optional design.
To make the meringue buttercream:
  1. In a saucepan, mix the 1 1/3 cups of sugar with the water and corn syrup. Place over low heat and gently swirl the pan until the sugar dissolves into a clear syrup. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage (240°F on a candy thermometer.) Do not stir after the syrup begins boiling.
  2. As the syrup boils, whip the egg whites with an electric mixer until they are foamy. Gradually add the remaining 2/3 cup of sugar and whip until they form soft peaks. You want the syrup to reach soft-ball at the same time the egg whites form soft peaks, so begin whipping the whites when the surface of the boiling syrup is thick with bubbles.
  3. When the syrup reaches soft-ball stage, with the mixer running, pour the syrup in a thin stream over the whites. Aim the syrup between the bowl and the whisk, taking care not to let it run onto the whisk, which spatters the syrup onto the sides of the bowl. Continue beating about 10 minutes, until the egg white and syrup mixture–the Italian meringue–is cool.
  4. With the mixer running, beat the softened butter into the meringue, a little at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl and continue beating until the mixture becomes a very smooth, spreadable buttercream. Beat in desired flavorings.

 

4 comments

  • Susy

    What a wonderful capture of the event. It was everything you described! The cakes were beautiful as well as delicious. Had to laugh with you up there showing them how to cut the masterpieces! We (the family) are so lucky to have you in our fold! Reply · 30 September, 2009

    • Susy, thanks for your comment on the wedding cake. Just to clarify–I think they knew how to cut the cake–Tricia asked me to come up as an honor and a thank you. The entire day was so much fun, huh? Reply · 22 November, 2009

  • jude rubadue

    It is a lovely story. Best to you. xo Jude Reply · 10 November, 2009

  • […] lemon mousse. Go a step further; add gelatin and stabilize the mousse, so it holds a shape in cakes and […] Reply · 15 April, 2015

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