Over the weekend, one of our team members got the opportunity to bake a cake for his little brother’s wedding. There were several requests for the recipe so we wanted to share with our readers the recipe for the final product, and maybe some anecdotes along the way!
My little brothers wedding was this weekend. As you can imagine, there was a lot going on. People were picking up flowers, taking pictures, setting up dining rooms, etc. A kind of controlled chaos. My little brother has an eye for flair, so his wedding had to be a little different.
Since I am an ex-cook, my brother requested I bake the wedding cake. I have always found it funny when people ask a chef or a cook to bake a wedding cake. I have worked at a lot of different restaurants, and somehow we get asked to do it more often than you think. There is some personal self deprecation that occurs when we are asked to bake a wedding cake.
It is not that we don’t want to bake the cake. We just understand the pressure behind such a big task. Then you add in the fact that we get asked to bake 1-2 wedding cakes a year. We really don’t have enough experience to make a truly jaw-dropping cake. Nor do we often have the equipment to add all the bells and whistles. We really often feel inadequate to make a nice wedding cake. After all, even pastry chefs that work at restaurants are more accustomed to doing plated desserts vs. high rising cakes. It is just a different mentality. Even though they both involve food, they really involve different skill sets. Like front-end vs. back end development.
Sure, a decent back-end developer may be able to create a front end, but it probably won’t be as pretty or user friendly had you had a front-end developer do it.
Then you add in a need for personal perfection that some chefs have, and the whole experience can be nerve racking. I don’t think I have ever seen a chef, or pastry chef not grumble when decorating a wedding cake. Nevertheless, I took on the challenge.
Step one was testing out some different options of cakes about 1.5 weeks before the wedding. It was cutting it close, but my brother had just flown in the week prior. So there had been no time to do this before hand.
We tested two different flavors, one was pumpkin and cocoa nib and the other was a lemon ricotta pound cake. I did make the mistake of not grinding the cocoa nibs small enough, so I do feel the lemon ricotta had an unfair advantage. After tasting both cakes, the final choice was the lemon ricotta pound cake.
This cake isn’t as dense as your typical pound cake. However, it also provides a sturdy structure to hold all the frosting, and top layers steady. Plus, it tastes really good. The ricotta and lemon juice give the cake a nice bright flavor. Paired with blueberry and cream cheese, it is a natural combination.
The origin for this recipe is actually the Foodnetwork. I found it one day when I worked at the Coterie Room and served it as a special for brunch with some supremed citrus and whipped cream. I personally made some alterations for the wedding and wanted to make sure those were recorded for personal reuse.
First, make sure you have the right equipment! I did have to go buy a 14 inch round for the main cake and luckily, for the batch size of cake I was making, I own a large industrial style bowl.
It worked out, it just took about double the time required. Great workout though! So I saved money on the gym and a Kitchenaid…of course, I almost broke the smaller Kitchenaid mixer.
Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake
Ingredients For Cake:
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs + 1 yolk (separated)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 lemons, Zested and Juiced
Along with a few changes in the ingredients, I also changed some of the instructions.
Depending on how well you know your oven, preheat your oven to 350-375 degrees fahrenheit. I did 375, but if your oven is reliable, then use 350 is perfect.
First mix the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a mixing bowl with a whisk and sift to ensure that your wedding cake does not have any clumps of flour in it.
Then separate the eggs into two different bowls.
Take 1/2 cup of sugar and the vanilla and beat with the egg yolks on medium high until you reach the ribbon stage(See video here). Set this aside.
Then, take your butter, lemon zest and 1 cup of sugar and beat for about 3 minutes until mixed thoroughly.
Add in your ricotta to the butter mixture slowly while continuing to mix the butter and ricotta.
Mix in your egg yolks and egg whites slowly. Order doesn’t matter here.
Now take your flour mixture and gently fold it in. Make sure your flour is sifted!
Then, when your flour is almost mixed in, add in the juice from the lemons.
From here, you are ready to bake!
I used about 1250 grams of mixture per half sheet tray and it made perfect single layers.
For the 14 inch round, I used 800 grams.
Using the weights above, the half sheet pan took 20 minutes to bake on average and the round took 25 minutes. Make sure to check the cake after the first 15.
Along with the cake, my brother requested cream cheese frosting(Thank goodness). Cream cheese frosting is one of the easier frostings and it still tastes great. Unlike the classic American buttercream. I do prefer to do a whipped cream\cream cheese frosting. I am going to attempt to scale down the ginormous batch I made.
In addition, I split the main mixture into two batches. One I mixed with whip cream, the other with blueberry jam. I used the white whipped cream cheese frosting to decorate the outside, and the blueberry frosting more like filling.
16 oz Cream cheese
3/4 Cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
For the two separate creams:
1/2 Cup blueberry Jam or Homemade puree
1 Cup whipping cream
Mix the 16 oz of cream cheese with the powder sugar on medium speed until the powder sugar is completely dissolved.
Then add in the vanilla and mix in for another 1 minute.
Split this main cream cheese frosting into two separate bowls.
With one half, slowly using a mixer to beat in the whipping cream until medium stiff peaks. You don’t have to beat to stiff peaks because the cream cheese will solidify.
With the other half fold in the blueberry jam either with a mixer or a spatula. This depends on how soft your frosting is at the time.
Now you are ready to decorate! I used the blueberry frosting as an intenral filling and the white whipped cream cheese frosting ont he outside.
Check out this video if you need help frosting the cake!
The hardest part of the wedding cake was actually transporting it nearly an hour away from the origin point. Luckily for the sheet cakes, my Mother had some Nordstrom boxes that worked perfect for transporting cake. I am not actually sure how they got the wedding cake over to the actual wedding…
I heard some poor groomsman had to hold it on his lap the entire way there. Considering it weighed about 20lbs, I can see that being even more stressful than baking the entire cake.
Honestly, it was one of the best wedding cakes I have ever had and I am not just saying that because I baked it. I typically hate most of what I make. Flavor wise, this cake came out great. Decorations….not so great. That does seem to be the trade-off for most wedding cakes.
I wanted to share a few wedding cake resources below. The first is just a great wedding cake shop in Seattle. The other two will be places to pick up tools, ingredients and decorations!
Wedding Cake Shop
Chocolate and Decorating Supplies
Cake Decorating Supplies