from my wife’s blog, Cocoa + Cotton
“Too much of anything is bad, but too much champagne is just right.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
I didn’t bake this cake.
I didn’t frost it either.
I wasn’t actually allowed anywhere near until it came to washing up.
A smaller prototype in the fashioning of a special friend’s wedding cake, my wife was in perfectionist mode and it had to be just right. Adapted from the very talented Thalia Ho the cake comes drenched in champagne, white chocolate and rose and is made of light-as-air cloud-fluffy sponge. She worked on it for four hours straight and even the drizzles had to be “perfectly imperfect” meaning she was cross when she chose the wrong brand of white chocolate to achieve the perfect melted consistency for the most naturally falling drizzles. And this, a mere prototype. A ‘fail’, she said, on visuals. If only we could all fail so tragically.
I was however given one important task with my boys: chief taster, and all I could say through a mouthful of sponge and buttercream is, hands down, best cake I’ve ever eaten. So if you’re hunting out a light, fluffy celebration cake soaked with three harmonious flavours and sandwiched together with a rose tinted swiss meringue buttercream, keep scrolling.
what you’ll need
Equipment: 3 x 7 inch cake tins, paper circle cake tin liner, sugar thermometer, stand mixer.
Pink champagne, white chocolate and rose layer cake: makes a 7 inch triple layer cake
For the sponge mixture:
- 220g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 400g granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla bean extract
- 1 tsp rose water
- 380g self raising flour, sifted
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 280ml whole milk, at room temperature
For the champagne syrup soak:
- 60ml champagne
- 60ml granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp rose water
For the champagne, white chocolate and rose Swiss meringue buttercream:
- 150g egg whites
- 250g granulated sugar
- 450g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla bean extract
- 1 tsp rose water
- ¼ tsp salt
- 100ml champagne, at room temperature
- 100g white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
- pink food colouring or gel, optional
For the decoration and drizzle:
- 125g white chocolate, finely chopped
- pale pink pesticide free flowers, peonies, roses or babies breath etc, optional
Making the sponge:
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Grease and line 3 x 18 cm (7 inch) cake pans with baking paper (you can buy pre-made circular ones to fit).
- Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until light and fluffy – around 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. Add in your vanilla bean extract and rose water and beat until combined.
- Meanwhile in a separate large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
- Return to your stand mixer and set the speed to medium-low. Add in the egg whites to your butter-sugar mix, a little at a time, until they are evenly incorporated and the batter is pale and fluffy – about 3 minutes.
- Pour in a third of the milk into the beating mixture. Beat until just combined then add in a third of your dry flour ingredients. Continue to alternate the additions until all of the milk and dry flour ingredients have been used up. Make sure to finish by adding the last third of the dry flour ingredients. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until well combined, 3 minutes.
- Divide the cake batter between the prepared cake pans and use a spatula to smooth. Bake, for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cakes are golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 5-10 minutes before turning out and onto a wire rack to let cool completely. Once cool, level off any domed toms with a large serrated knife or cake leveller.
Making the champagne syrup soak:
- Place all the ingredients into a medium sized saucepan set over medium-high heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a light rolling boil and let it simmer for 2 minutes before removing from the heat to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
- Once cool, use a pastry brush dipped in the syrup to lightly glaze the cut side of each cake layer. Set aside for assembly.
Making the champagne,white chocolate and rose Swiss meringue buttercream:
- Place the egg whites and sugar in a medium sized bowl stand mixer bowl and whisk together to just combine. Place the bowl over a saucepan filled with a few inches of water set over medium-high heat. Do not let the water touch the base of the bowl.
- Whisking occasionally, heat the egg and sugar mixture until it reaches a temperature of 70C on a thermometer. Once at temperature, remove the mixer bowl from the heat and set it onto the stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, whisk the mixture on high speed until it reaches medium stiff peaks, about 8 to 10 minutes. The bowl should no longer be hot to the touch and no heat should be released from the meringue. Stop mixing and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment.
- With the mixer on medium speed, add in the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, until it is fully incorporated. Add in the vanilla bean extract, rose water and salt. Beat, on medium-high speed until the buttercream is increased in volume and is much thicker – about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add in the champagne and melted white chocolate. Beat until silky smooth and thick, about 4-6 more minutes then add in a few drops of food colouring (if using) until the buttercream is dyed a light shade of pastel pink. Beat until well combined then remove the bowl from the stand mixer and set aside for assembly.
- Place the first cake layer, cut side facing up, on a cake stand or serving platter. Use an offset palette knife to spread 3-4 tablespoons of the buttercream over the top, spreading it right to the edges. Top with the second cake layer, cut side facing down, and again, generously spread over about 3-4 tablespoons of the buttercream over the second cake layer. Lightly press it down to seal. Finish with the remaining third cake layer, cut side facing down, and spread a thin layer of the buttercream over the top and sides of the cake to crumb coat it. Set the cake in the refrigerator to harden the first buttercream coating, about 30 minutes.
- Once set, remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread a generous amount of the buttercream on-top to cover the cake. I used a large offset palette knife to smoothly frost the entire cake but you can thickly frost it, thinly frost it (for a naked cake effect), decorate the cake with buttercream swirls, piping, depending on the look you’re going for. Set the cake back in the refrigerator to set the coating – about 30 more minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the finely chopped white chocolate over a small saucepan of barely simmering water set on medium-low heat. Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water. Heat, stirring often, until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Remove from the bowl from the heat and set it aside to cool for 5-10 minutes, or until the chocolate has cooled slightly and is beginning to thicken.
- Remove the cake from the refrigerator and pour the glaze directly over the top of the cake, using a spatula or butter knife to help it out of the bowl and to run down the sides of the cake to form a dripping effect.
- To finish, decorate the top of the cake with some fresh flowers, edible rose petals and gold leaf. If necessary you can reserve a few tablespoons of the buttercream to use as ‘glue’ to attach the flowers. Set the cake back in the refrigerator and chill it until firm before serving – about 30 more minutes. The cake will keep for up to 3 days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature before serving. It may also be frozen for up to 1 month.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream is an adaption from Layered.