My Cake Decorating Gallery

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mum's Birthday Cake: Layers of Lemon Curd Buttercream and Raspberry Swirl Buttercream with Ganache and Raspberries

It was finally my mom's birthday and since I've only had the idea to decorate cakes for about 9 months, this was the first of her birthdays that I had planned to bring the cake and do something special. I wanted to add a little more interest in the idea by telling her I was buying it from a specialty bakery and then I was going to see if I could trick the CakeMaster herself into thinking it was professionally done. She had mentioned she was in the mood for chocolate and raspberries so I decided it was time for another ganache covered cake with raspberries on top.

This was also an excuse to hit up the cake supply store, Sarah's, and buy some more gadgets. I finally got a spinning cake stand, a cake leveler/torter, and some of those rippled combs for adding ridges to the edges of cakes. I also got my disguise supplies - cake box, cake board, and pretty cake board cover - these would all be props to help me "pull off my stunt" of tricking Mom into thinking it was a purchased cake.

I was searching online for a different kind of buttercream and came across Mousseline Buttercream, from The Cake Bible, which turns out is pretty much the same recipe for Classic Italian Buttercream. I decided I'd try that recipe since I read that it held up well and didn't need to be refrigerated.

I baked a regular yellow cake into two 8 in rounds and used my new cake leveler to cut them into perfect 4 layers. The plan was to have three filling layers - Raspberry swirl, Lemon Curd, Raspberry swirl. I baked a batch of the Mousseline which included heating sugar to "firm ball" stage and then pouring it over whipped egg whites and then blending in butter. It is a delicious light and airy buttercream, not the ones that leave your teeth "furry" with sugar overload and certainly not the grocery store greasy "buttercreams" that are made of pure Crisco. This is a really good frosting recipe and I will definitely make it again.

For the lemon curd frosting, I bought store-bought lemon curd and kept adding it in until I felt the flavor was strong enough to stand out against all the other flavors, so maybe half a jar for 1 layer's worth of icing. For the raspberry swirl icing, I took my usual Hero Raspberry preserves and even went the extra step to strain over a sieve to de-seed, and lightly swirled it in the rest of the icing. I also created an amaretto sugar syrup to brush over each layer prior to frosting. I thought amaretto would be a good match for both raspberry and lemon, and next time I'll use even more because it was delish!

After spreading the filling - raspberry-lemon-raspberry, I realized I had too much lemon but used all of the remaining frosting to give myself a "crumb coat" around the whole cake. It was all going to be covered in chocolate anyway so it didn't matter too much that it was pink and lemon pastel colors. ;) I also had tried to even out the sides with a knife before frosting... this is harder than it sounds even with a rotating stand. Next came the ganache, using my typical - 8oz heavy cream + 12oz bag of Ghiradelhi semi-sweet chocolate chips recipe. Besides letting the cream boil over which was my fault, this is a simple recipe and makes delish chocolate ganache.

After letting it cool a little bit to thicken slightly, I poured it over the cake trying to keep the top very smooth. I barely had enough ganache to cover the cake for some reason (probably because I lost some of my cream on the stovetop), but eventually just had enough to cover it. This made it difficult to smooth out the edges because - that's much easier if you have a ton of frosting. I was trying to use my spinning cake stand but spots of buttercream would show through if I pushed too hard with my "rippling comb", and the cake sides weren't perfect because I didn't have a ton of buttercream to smooth out the sides underneath, first. However, eventually I got sick of trying to "comb" the edges to perfection and thought "Hopefully the raspberries will attract your attention away from the imperfect sides."

I was a little disappointed that my sides weren't perfect (in my head, everything always was planned to go perfectly!) and I was hoping that my "scam" to trick my mom would still work out. Because fruits will start leaking juice when they touch sugar, I knew I would place the raspberries early the next morning prior to bringing to cake over to Mom's.

I was originally thinking to just use a small circle of upside-down raspberries on the center of the cake, but I eventually decided the whole top wasn't perfect so I might as well cover it with solid raspberries, almost to the edge. I thought it made it look a little lavish and I hoped it would help look "professional" to my mom. I had run out of buttercream so I did a quick and slightly sloppy border around the bottom of the cake in white store-bought frosting, but it didn't show up very well in these pictures due to the gold foil wrapped cake board. I used a sifter and sifted a little powdered sugar on top, and we were done!

Into the box, the cake was starting to look like it could pass from a store... maybe? To top off my "hoax," I wrote "Bliss / August 30th" on the corner of the top of the box, to simulate a bakery's handwriting.. to keep track of all their cakes in the fridge... tee hee. I put one single piece of tape to hold the cakeboard onto the bottom of the box without sliding from side to side, and then one piece of tape to keep the top down for "safe shipping" and "no peeking," as some bakeries do.

Voila, it was done! To my delight, Mom went along with my trickster ways and said "oooOOooh that must have cost a pretty penny!" and I let the "fancy bakery cake" taunt her all day until that evening when we finally decided to eat it. She was very intrigued about what the flavors might be, and I said "well, they said it was lemon curd buttercream - a Mousseline buttercream - and raspberry swirls, with chocolate ganache... Hopefully it's good!" and again I was strengthening my case for it having been a "purchased cake." Later, as I put some candles in the top and brought it over to her, she asked "So when are you going to tell me which bakery you went to?" and I said "Bliss Bakery!" and she finally realized I had made the cake and I was happy to see my trick worked. So we all had a piece and it was really very tasty, if I don't say so myself.

So that's my little story about the tricky birthday cake. :) See recipe below for what I found online as Mousseline Buttercream. I took about about 20% of the recipe and made lemon flavored and then the rest got raspberry preserves swirled in.

Mousseline Buttercream
As found on this website

This is the buttercream that stands tall above the rest. From the Cake Bible. It is lightly sweet and airy and leaves you wanting more. There is none of that greasiness from solid shortening or the overt sweetness from powdered sugar. It is easily flavored to make a delicious filling. You need a candy thermometer or lots of experience with the firm ball stage of candy making to make this buttercream. I use a thermometer.

unsalted butter, softened but cool (about 65*)

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
5 large egg whites
1 or 2 tsp vinegar

1. Place the vinegar on a paper towel and thoroughly wipe out your large mixing bowl. This will remove any oily residue that might be in the bowl. Egg whites will not whip properly if there is a speck of grease in the bowl or on the beaters. This also negates the need for cream of tartar. Set your bowl aside.

2. In another mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, set aside in a cool place.

3. In a small heavy saucepan, heat together 3/4 cup sugar and and 1/4 cup water, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Stop stirring and reduce the heat to low.

4. Start beating the egg whites, when they reach soft peaks, gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat to stiff peaks. If using a stand mixer, leave it running on the slowest speed to keep the egg whites from deflating.

5. Increase the heat under the syrup and cook until a candy thermometer reaches 248-250* (the firm ball stage) Immediately remove the syrup from the heat. If using a handheld mixer, beat the syrup into the whites in a steady stream with the mixer running. Don't pour the syrup on the beaters or they will throw all the syrup on the sides of the bowl. If using a stand mixer, pour 1/4 of the mixture over the whites with the mixer off. immediately beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Continue with the remaining syrup. Lower speed to medium and beat until completely cool.

6. Beat in the butter 1 Tbs at a time. At first the mixture will seem thin and will look curdled, but keep adding butter and mixing well, you may need to increase the speed a bit. At the end, add your favorite flavorings, your favorite liqueur is a nice addition, I like Grand Marnier. Even "plain old vanilla" is nice.

Buttercream becomes spongy on standing, mix again before using. If your buttercream has been chilled, you must allow it to come to room temperature before mixing or it will curdle.


  1. The raspberry buttercream looks to die for!

  2. How much butter goes into the mousseline? Does this buttercream taste heavily of butter? All buttercream I've made with sugar & eggs taste like I smeared softened butter on the cake. I know it should have a prevalent butter flavor, but that shouldn't be its only flavor, especially after you go through the pain of boiling sugar, etc.
    Thank you!

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