Friday, March 22, 2013

Ombre Cake

Ombre, the progression of a colour from a dark shade to light, is all the rage right now. Hair, clothing, and decor have all been affected by this trend and now we're even seeing it in food. I've seen lots of pictures on Pinterest of layer cakes in shades of purple & pink and thought a green ombre cake would be the perfect addition to Wesley's St Patrick's Day First Birthday Party (photos here).

I started with two boxes of white cake mix. You absolutely could make your own cakes from scratch but it would be tough to get a pure white cake, which is important for your colours to turn out, and I'm a big believer in not reinventing the wheel. I divided the batter in to 4 bowls and added gel food colouring a little at a time until I got the shades I wanted. I cheated a bit and used two different colours of green so that each layer really looked different but just one colour with increasing amounts would work too.

I used 9" round cake pans so that the layers were thinner. The trick to a successful layer cake is ensuring that your layers are level. I've read that if you bake your cakes at a lower temperature for a longer time then they won't rise to get that dome top. I've tried that and it doesn't work for me. Instead I used a cake leveler to slice off the tops of each cake which also helps to keep their heights uniform.

I froze each layer of the cake in individual freezer bags overnight so that they would be easier to frost. For the icing I used a simple buttercream frosting (recipe here), warming it slightly in the microwave to make it a little more spreadable.

The palest shade of cake is your base layer. I spread a generous amount of icing on top and then gently placed the next darkest shade of frozen cake atop it, continuing until all four layer are stacked. I then frosted the whole cake, starting with the sides, with a thin layer of icing. This is called the "crumb layer" as it traps all the tiny crumbs that tear away from your cake as you frost it. I let that frosting set (about 20 minutes) then added another layer of buttercream icing. I finished it off with a few shakes of green sprinkles and a single green candle.

Cutting in to the cake is fun when you see each layer of green cake come together, fading to the palest shade. Mine crumbled quite a bit when pulling out the first few slices because I cut them so thin (they were each 4 layers high!) but that could perhaps be avoided by using a denser cake recipe.

I received a lot of compliments from our guests and I have to admit that the cake was pretty tasty. It's definitely a fun twist on a classic layer cake and one that I will likely repeat for many birthdays to come.

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