Wednesday 15 February 2012

Valentine's Checkerboard Cake with Tutorial

I wish, wish, WISH I could have gotten this post up sooner so y'all could have seen it before Valentine's Day but I was busy! Maybe if you like this idea, file it away for next year?

Really, though, do you need a specific holiday as an excuse to make a gorgeous, delicious cake?

Of course not.

So remember how when I made those cupcakes and also made layer cakes and put them aside for a later use? This is that use. These are fresh out of the freezer and still quite firm, which is exactly what we want. Yes, you need to freeze your cakes for this application! You'll see why in a bit.

So, start off with two different coloured, different flavored 8 or 9-inch round cakes. These are 9 inch rounds of red velvet and silver white cake.

Trim them to be level, then stack them atop one another.

Now give your cakes a hat. There, we're done! Isn't it cute?

Seriously, though, I used this bowl as a guideline so I could cut an almost-perfect circle in my cake. Before I continue, I need to point out that this whole process was inspired by I am Baker's Vertical Cake Tutorial though I took it in a slightly different direction because I was aiming for a different finished product.

I want this cake to have a checkerboard interior!

I used a small rice bowl for the next circle. Holding the bowl in place I took a long, thin, sharp knife and cut straight down into the cake, following the outside edge of the bowl. If I'd had a tripod or a third arm, I would be showing you a picture of that right now.

I could have stopped there, but I chose to cut out one more circle in the middle, just using a round cookie cutter.

It didn't go deep enough so I had to use it to cut form both sides of the cake... I could have made my life easier here and just used the knife with the cutter as a guide but what are you gonna do.

Then I very, veeerrry carefully pulled the rings upwards one by one to separate them. Now, if we weren't working with frozen cake, the whole thing would simply crumble at this point, so don't skip freezing them for at least 3-4 hours!

Once you have all your rings separated, start fitting them back together, alternating colours as you go.

You'll end up with a neato target-looking cake! (Stay on target. We're too close! Stay on target! B-KOOM! Yeah, that's all I could think every time I looked at this cake. I am a nerd.)

Now, I missed an important step here. Please, learn from my mistake, and don't miss this step!! Before you painstakingly lift one target cake and place it atop the other, brush the bottom layer with a generous amount of simple syrup. Then stack them together. Pour a bit more syrup over the top and especially in the gaps between the rings, as above.

Then wrap the heck out of it in Cling Wrap, tightly, to hold the layers all together. (Over at I am Baker, Amanda tied hers with parchment paper and scraps of cloth, whatever works to keep your cake's layers all closely hugging.)

Then put them back in the freezer for a couple more hours. Yes, this takes time, but it will spare you the suffering I've had to endure. My cake did not hold together well, the layers came apart when served. I did not put the middle layer of simple syrup, I did not pour enough over the top. Perhaps I didn't leave in the freezer long enough.

Please, learn from my mistakes. Don't let this cake tragedy befall your family.


Where was I? (STAY ON TARGET!) Right. Once you've firmed up your cake in the freezer yet again, let it thaw in the fridge before starting decorating. Frosting and frozen cakes don't necessarily get along all that great.

Hurry up and thaw so I can frost you! (Stay on target!)

No, I'm not getting sick of that reference. Why do you ask?

Okay, okay, so let's get some frosting on this baby! I tried altering Amanda's recipe to suit my tastes better but the texture didn't come out how I hoped, so anyone who wants to try this: stick to Amanda's Perfect Crusting Buttercream recipe. If I ever get my variation on it right, I'll be sure to share.

I was really on an I am Baker bender when I decorated this too. This was inspired by the cake she made in her Vertical Layer Cake Tutorial to do a simple black-on white, handwritten message, but on top of the cake. Oh, dear, my handwriting needs some practice.

The important thing about these words, though, is that it's the lyrics to my husband's favorite love song. This cake was for Valentine's Day, after all. And if anyone is curious, yes, he loved it!

 I gave the sides some interest by piping simple, freehand, heart outlines all the way around. This is probably my favorite part of the outside of the cake. I may play with this idea further in the future.

So, what does this baby look like when you cut a slice?

Ooooh. I admit it took some finagling to get this shot. Like I mentioned, my lack of simple syrup understanding and foresight meant the layers didn't stay together quite right. So this is a somewhat reconstructed slice.

But, oh, look at that. Gorgeous. Worth the extra work and waiting time, worth all the trouble for sure.

I would offer you some, but I gave out slices as Valentine's Day gifts to people I ran into today, and hubby ate the very last slice after dinner, so... Sorry! But try making your own! It's fiddly, yes, but a stunning effect when you cut a slice and everyone sees the lovely checkering for the first time.

Even though my layers were a little, er, disconnected, it turned out delicious and beautiful and, once again, I learned something for next time. If you try it, let me know how it goes.

And, oh, (slightly late) Happy Valentine's Day, everybody!

Until next time!


  1. Your blog is amazing and I love that you share your mistakes. Its makes me believe I can bake something! lol

    1. Thanks so much! If I just pretended everything I made was perfect I'd never improve, heh heh.

    2. Hey, I love that song too! Oh, wait, I'm not into sappy...let's just pretend I never said that, hmm? ;)

      I gotta say, having tried this recipe...THIS CAKE IS WORTH GETTING EBOLA FOR! Seriously, this combination of the red velvet and silver white cake is absolutely amazing. I would willingly contract ebola (the non-deadly strain, anyways) for a slice of this.

      Also, if you're out of simple syrup, would complex syrup work? (Hee hee, baking funny)