Some days you live on kale and steamed Brussels sprouts like the queen of health that you aspire to be and some days you wake up with the overwhelming urge to bake a gorgeous, decadent, overly extravagant cake. Today was the latter. It was most definitely the latter.
The bakery business is a $310 million industry in the United States, which may sound like a lot for baked goods, but take a minute and simply search the word cake on Pinterest. You’ll find yourself inundated with more than one thousand different varieties all boasting different colors, flavors, frostings, layers and designs. Now you’re thinking $310 million? That’s it? I know, I know.
Of all the options, there’s one variety I’ve had my beginner-baker’s eye on for a while: rose cakes. These elegant cakes often maintain multiple layers of light, fluffy cake which are then covered in the most elegant rose design for a classic, refined look. A look that seems as though it can only be recreated by professional hands. Wrong. Aside from baking the yellow cake and creating the frosting from scratch, decorating took a total of five minutes. Seriously, five minutes.
THINGS YOU’LL NEED
- Two boxes Betty Crocker Super Moist Yellow Cake Mix
- Two 6-inch baking pans
- Six eggs
- Wilton Tip 1M
- Piping bag
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
First things first. You’ll need a frosting that’s fairly stiff and will hold it’s shape for those delicate roses you’ll be so eloquently crafting. I used Martha Stewart’s Swiss meringue buttercream recipe and I have two things to say about it. The first: Make sure you let it mix in your mixer for a few minutes on high before you decide that you messed up the recipe and start over, wasting 5 eggs, like I did (patience is a virtue I do not possess). It’ll take a few minutes of mixing before those little peaks that she’s talking about begin to form. A lesson I learned after calling my mother two hours away to ask why my frosting wasn’t working. Adulting. The second (which I probably should have started with first): I didn’t like this recipe. You may have noticed it calls for a pound of butter. A literal pound of butter. And you’ll taste it. All of it. While I commend all that Martha does, this recipe is not her best work. Instead, I recommend using this buttercream recipe from Live For Cake. It has less butter but still creates a nice stiff consistency.
Pour your cake mix into 6-inch circle pans and level the tops with a spatula. Note: one box of cake mix will yield two 3-inch layers. I built my cake with three layers, but you can virtually use as many as you’d like. Once the cake is baked, remove from the pan, slice the tops off to make level and then stack them, frosting between each layer.
Once you bake your cake and create your frosting you’re almost ready for the fun part. First, you need to put a crumble coat on your cake to keep it from crumbling, as the name indicates, while you decorate it. Take a spreader or a butter knife if you’re like me and have no legit baking tools in your house, and spread a thin layer of frosting over your cake. Tip: Don’t be afraid to put a little extra frosting on your crumble coat. There were a few spaces between roses on my final product that would have been less noticeable had I put more frosting on my base coat.
Now you’re ready for the fun part. To ensure your roses are all equal size, take a cookie cutter or the ridge of a cup (I used the top of a spice bottle because I liked the size) and gently press into your crumble coat to create circles that will act as your guide.
Fit a piping bag with Tip 1M and fill with the remainder of your frosting. Then, position the piping tip at the center of each circle and squeeze the piping bag as you move your way outward in a clockwise direction. Continue piping roses until you’ve covered the entire cake. Tip: If you find yourself with any gaps, just fill them with small swirls. And voila.