Saturday, November 21, 2009

White Chocolate Whisper Cake

Last summer Bart's mom was extremely disappointed that she didn't get a taste of the cake I made for Nicki's wedding. Therefore, she placed an order with me at that time (she made sure she placed her order early) for me to make a birthday cake for her. She chose a white cake with lemon filling, but left the decorating up to me. Because she has a huge family and gatherings can be quite large, I made a relatively large birthday cake for her. Her birthday is today--hopefully we can get her cake there in one piece!

I decided to try a new recipe for the cake and filling. I got the cake recipe from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. This cake smells incredible while it is baking, and it baked very evenly. The cake has a very fine, delicate crumb. As the title implies, the white chocolate just supplies a subtle "whisper" in the background. According to Rose, the "white chocolate offers the double advantage of velvety, melt-in-the-moouth texture and, because of white cake's gentle flavor, a definite whisper of cocoa butter. This special flavor blends well with a lemon buttercream or, of course, a white chocolate buttercream or glaze."

I filled the cake with homemade lemon curd (recipe from Cook's Illustrated). The lemon curd is nice and tart and offsets the sweetness of the cake.

I frosted the cake with lemon buttercream (made with butter and cream cheese), and applied homemade lemon-flavored fondant. The decorations are made with a mixture of homemade gumpaste and white chocolate clay. I had fun making the cake, and I hope she enjoys it!

P.S. While making the cake, I had trouble getting the 6-inch cakes to turn out--so I frosted the ruined cake. The pictures of the cut cake are the pictures of my failures.

White Chocolate Whisper Cake

6 ounces white chocolate
4.75 ounces egg whites
8.5 ounces milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
10.5 ounces sifted cake flour
8.5 ounces sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
4.5 ounces (9 T.) unsalted butter, softened

Preheat the oven 350°F. Prepare two 9-inch x 1-1/2-inch cake pans by greasing them, lining bottoms with parchment paper, then grease and flour again. (I use Baker's Joy instead of grease and flour, but I still use the parchment circle.)

In a double boiler melt the chocolate over hot (not simmering) water, stirring frequently. Remove from the water.

In a medium bowl lightly combine the egg whites, ¼ cup milk, and vanilla.

In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and remaining ¾ cup milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 ½ minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides. Add the melted chocolate and beat to incorporate.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about ½ full. Bake 25 to 35 minutes for 6-inch pan (30-40 minutes for 9-inch) or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.

Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up and cool completely before wrapping airtight.

Lemon Curd Filling

1 cup fresh lemon juice from about 6 lemons
1 teaspoon gelatin (powdered)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
1/8 teaspoon table salt
4 large eggs
6 large egg yolks (reserve egg whites for cake)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen

FOR THE FILLING: Measure 1 tablespoon lemon juice into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over top. Heat remaining lemon juice, sugar, and salt in medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot but not boiling. Whisk eggs and yolks in large nonreactive bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot lemon-sugar mixture into eggs, then return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with heatproof spatula, until mixture registers 170 degrees on instant-read thermometer and is thick enough to leave trail when spatula is scraped along pan bottom, 4 to 6 minutes. Immediately remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Stir in frozen butter until incorporated. Pour filling through fine-mesh strainer into nonreactive bowl (you should have 3 cups). Cover surface directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm enough to spread, at least 4 hours.


  1. This cake is heaven! I love the whisper of chocolate in the background of the cake, and the lemon curd filling compliments the cake very well! The decorating is outstanding, and it easily surpasses all professional bakeries, like King Arther's, decorating. Great, job!

  2. Can I just say "WOW!" And "WOW!!" once more. That is an incredible looking cake. I thought you had done another wedding and then I read the post. What a birthday cake!

  3. Can I just say....I think my wedding cake is in good hands. :) I'm excited! Thanks, Valerie!

  4. I just made this cake, I exchanged 1/4 cup of the flour with the same amount of fine cocoa powder. I added a tsp of pure vanilla and 1/4 tsp of creme de menthe flavouring. Stabilized chocolate whipped cream will fill it, and I'll top it with purple marshmallow fondant and dark chocolate decor.

  5. When I made this cake it sunk in the center while baking even though I did not open the oven at all during that time. I may have over mixed the egg whites and milk and vanilla? How whipped should the whites be during that step? Thanks

  6. When I made this cake it sunk in the center while baking even though I did not open the oven at all during that time. I may have over mixed the egg whites and milk and vanilla? How whipped should the whites be during that step? Thanks

    1. The egg white shouldn't be whipped at all--just whisked lightly until just lightly combined. The whites shouldn't be white, airy, or foamy.