I’ve always been intrigued by the world of cake decorating so I thought I’d take a stab at it. So join me today as we do some gothic cake decorating. I’ll be creating this red velvet dark anatomical heart tea cake with a vegan cream cheese filling and vegan black buttercream.
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Making the Cake
Obviously before we begin with out gothic cake decorating, we have to make a cake to begin with. My vision for this cake was to have a vibrant red velvet with black buttercream frosting and a red anatomical heart. As my main focus was in decorating the cake I used a preexisting red velvet cake recipe. I am vegan and this recipe happens to be for a vegan cake.
Note: if you are also vegan/vegetarian double check that your red food coloring is vegan as many are not.
I made a vegan cream cheese frosting filling using Kite Hill Cream Cheese, Earth Balance Butter and powdered sugar. Personally, I like the flavor of the Trader Joes Vegan Cream Cheese more but I don’t live close to a Trader Joes anymore.
Assembling the Cake
While my cake was baking I made a quick cake stand out of cardboard. I traced a circle slightly bigger than my actual cake and cut out two cardboard pieces and I used some aluminum foil to cover it. Once my cake was baked and fully cooled and assembled it, adding the cream cheese filling.
As I was doing this, I noticed that my cake was a little larger than would fit in my cake tray. I had bought this beautiful caged cake tray off of Facebook Market place specifically for making this cake. I was in love with the dome cage but it did limit the height of my cake. The diameter of the final cake was also pushing capacity so I decided to only do two layers and trim my cake back to 6 inches.
I honestly couldn’t complain, being my first cake decorating attempt starting on something smaller was the perfect place to start.
How to Get Super Black Frosting for Cake Decorating
I get asked how I got my frosting so black and to be honest it looked gray the great majority of the time I was working on the cake. My two tips would be 1) Adding a bit of red food coloring in addition to your black food coloring. My black was very green in hue so I added a bit of red to neutralize. 2) Wait for your buttercream to fully set. This was honestly the key when I was working on the cake it was dark gray and once it was fully set in the fridge it turned full black.
Prepping the Cake for the Cake Decorating
Now we start getting to the good part. But before we get into some intricate cake decorating I have to start with a crumb coat.
The Crumb Coat
The crumb coat is basically a thin layer of buttercream used to trap in all the cake crumbs. After trimming my cake back, this was more then essential.
I made a vegan buttercream using Earth Balance. As a note I don’t think I’d do it again. If you’ve used Earth Balance in a tub you’d know it’s delightful for day to day use. But I don’t think making buttercream and cake decorating is its time to shine.
For two reasons:
1) It gets soft super quick. When you’re already running back and forth between cooling your cake in the fridge and piping every 10-15 min with regular butter, this just shortens that piping window even more. 2) It made a texture that wasn’t as smooth as I was hoping because it was too soft.
So in the future I will be conducting an experiment for which vegan butter is best for making buttercream. I’m going to try to get my hands on some vegan butter sticks and see if that’s an improvement.
Back to the crumb coat.
I added this super thin layer and used a spatula to make sure everything was super smooth. Then I put it in the fridge for 15 or so minutes.
After that I added the frost official layer of buttercream, smoothed it and put it back in the fridge.
While my cake was setting, I started off by drawing out a loose design of what I wanted to attempt. I created a few templates to make sure that things were as precise and proportionate as I could make them. The vision was to create this 3D anatomical heart in the center of the cake. I started by creating a circle template and a heart template. I also created a 6in template the size of my cake that I folded into 8ths. Placing this on top of my cake, I marked at each crease so I would have some spacing guidelines as I pipped.
I traced lightly around my circle template with a knife and did the same for the heart. Using a knife I scooped out the center of the heart in order to create a cavity and filled it with a red buttercream. I carefully shaped the heart putting it back into the refrigerator every 10 minutes for about 15-20 minutes to make sure the buttercream is hard enough to sculpt.
Cake Decorating: Piping
Now’s the time in the cake decorating process to begin piping. Using my sketch as a reference I went section by section piping out my design. This whole process for the cake took me about 12 hours largely because of all the time that I had to wait for the buttercream to harden as I was working with it. I also had the intense job of warding off a persistent little kitten determined to enjoy some frosting.
Any mistakes that I made were easily scraped off with a knife. Decorating the top of the cake was easier just because of having gravity on my side and I ended up having to modify the design for the sides of my cake due to overestimating all I could fit in the area given the size piping tips I had.
The very last step was to add some veins to the heart et viola a black gothic cake.
Thank you so much for reading and joining me for this gothic cake decorating. Let me know, what’s your favorite flavor of cake?