This is my first decently decorated cake. I am calling this decent, so you should imagine how scary my earlier attempts would have been. I made this cake for my son’s 2nd birthday yesterday. I am terribly poor at cake decorating. I am just not patient enough. I took it slow this time, planning and making things ahead of time. I baked the cake and prepared the frosting and ganache a day earlier. The previous night, I had to cut, fill and frost the cakes and that took me nearly 2 hours. My kids woke up before I could finish, so I had to shove everything in the fridge and finish the next morning. I hardly slept, I kept dreaming of trimming, piping and smoothing the cake. I am pretty happy that 4 out 5 recognized it as a teddy bear. The 5th called it a Mickey Mouse which is still close enough. The Vanilla cake recipe is Martha Stewart’s and is a definite keeper. The cake tastes wonderful and is a great basic cake that would go well with just about any frosting. Making the cake was straight-forward and was the easiest of the steps.
There are 2 round cakes here. One makes the face of the bear. The other cake I used to cut the ears and snout of the bear. I cut the round cake in half and filled it with vanilla buttercream. I used chocolate ganache to cover and frost the top and sides of the cake. I mixed a little bit of the chocolate ganache with the vanilla buttercream to tint it to a light beige shade which I then used for the snout, eyes and inside of the bear’s ears. You’ll need just 2 colours for the bear – the light beige and the chocolate brown. Thank god, I wasn’t making a rainbow cake. For a much better looking bear cake, head here which is where I drew inspiration. My bear’s mouth is too big and ill-shaped and his left eye is sort of damaged. My son didn’t help the case; he put his little fingers into the bear’s mouth even before I could click some pictures.
The chocolate ganache I thought could have been thicker, but it worked quite well for covering the cake. When left outside, when you’re decorating for prolonged periods, the ganache tends to warm and get a bit runny, so you may have to refrigerate the ganache in between. But the ganache tasted heavenly. Yuvi (my son) enjoyed squishing the bear’s nose and licking all that chocolate. He looked like a little bear himself.
Prep time: 30 mins for cake – 2-1/2 hours for the decorating Cooking time: 40-50 mins Serves: 15-20
Ingredients for the Vanilla Cake
Flour – 2-1/2 cups Butter – 1 cup Sugar – 1-1/2 cups Baking powder – ½ tsp Baking soda – ½ tsp Salt – 1 tsp Eggs – 2 Egg yolks – 3 Vanilla essence – 2 tsp Buttermilk – 1 cup
Ingredients for the Chocolate Ganache
Cream – 250 ml Chocolate 250 gm chopped into tiny chunks
1.Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Grease and flour 2 9 inch round cake tins. Tap out the excess flour. Set aside.
2.Sieve flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt twice. Set aside.
3.If you don’t have buttermilk, from a cup of milk, measure out 1 tbsp milk and replace with 1 tbsp vinegar. Let stand for 5-10 minutes. The milk will thicken during that time and your buttermilk will be ready to use.
4.Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl till pale and creamy – about 4-5 minutes. Add eggs and egg yolks one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add vanilla essence and beat.
5.Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately starting and ending with flour and beat just until the flour is incorporated. Divide the batter between the 2 cake tins. Bake for 40-50 minutes or till a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
6.Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Then turn onto a rack and let cool completely. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
7.For the chocolate ganache boil cream till it bubbles around the edges. Pour boiling cream over chopped up chocolate and stir till the chocolate melts and it is lump free. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Before using the ganache, remove from refrigerator and whip for 1-2 minutes till smooth.
8.For the vanilla buttercream, beat butter till pale and soft about 4 minutes. Add icing sugar 1 cup at a time and beat till the sugar is incorporated and it doesn’t taste grainy – about 10-15 minutes in all. Add vanilla essence and beat. Add 1-2 tablespoons of cream and beat till the frosting is your desired consistency.
9.To assemble the teddy bear cake, place one round cake on a cake board or cake stand or whatever you’re going to serve it on. This will be the face of the bear. You won’t be moving this part of the cake later on, so choose a surface, cover with foil if desired and place one cake on this with enough space above this cake for the ears.
10.Remove the frosting and ganache from the refrigerator, and gently whip the two separately and keep ready. Add a tiny bit (1/2 tsp-1tsp) of ganache to the vanilla buttercream to tint the buttercream a light beige colour.
11.Carefully slice the cake horizontally in two. Place the top half on a plate. On the cut surface, spread a thin crumb coat of vanilla butter cream frosting to seal in the crumbs. Then fill with some more frosting to about 1/8 inch thickness. Then place the other half of the cake on top, cut surface down and gently press. Use a spatula to remove any buttercream that may have squished out the sides now.
12.Wipe the spatula clean and spread a thin layer of the chocolate ganache all over the top and sides of the cake. You’re painting the bear’s face brown. Once completely covered, refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
13.In the meantime, take the other cake and cut the ears and snout of the bear. I used a lid as a guide to cut out the snout. For the ears, I just cut them by judgement. The ears are U shaped. Use an up and down sawing motion to cut the ears and snout. A thin bladed knife works well. You’ll still have crumbs all over, don’t worry, you’ll be frosting and sealing them all.
14.Spread a thin layer of chocolate ganache on the top and sides of the ears and snout and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
15.Freeze about 3-4 tablespoons of the chocolate ganache to make the eyes and nose of the bear.
16.Fill a piping bag with the remaining chocolate ganache and fit with a multiple-opening (grass) tip or star tip. Refrigerate the piping bag till use.
17.Remove the crumb coated cakes from the refrigerator. Use the vanilla buttercream frosting to glue the cut out ears of the bear. Place the round snout over the face at the base. Spread a thick layer of vanilla buttercream frosting on the top and sides of the snout. Make oval shapes for eyes with the vanilla buttercream frosting. Use the vanilla buttercream frosting to colour the insides of the bear’s ears.
18.Use the piping bag to pipe the hair. With a star tip (which I used), hold vertically, squeeze and slowly release pressure as you lift the piping bag up. This will produce elongated stars. Cover the face entirely with piped chocolate ganche.
19.Remove the frozen ganache and very quickly shape 2 round balls for the eyes. 1 triangular nose and a mouth with your hands. Ganache melts quickly, so work fast.
20.Refrigerate the cake till serving time. Remove from refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving time.
1.If you don’t have a cake board, you can make it at home like I did. Cut one side of any big cardboard box (mixie, induction stove package boxes would be just the right size) to get a rectanglular/square surface. Check if this fits in your fridge. Use aluminium foil to wrap the board. Fasten with cellotape on the underside. Your cake board is ready to use.
2.Cut the cake after it’s been refrigerated. Chilled cakes are easier to cut and are less crumbly.
3.The ganache is tricky to work with. If you think it’s gone too soft and doesn’t hold a shape when piped, just refrigerate for some time – piping bag and all.
4.Same with the cake. If it’s too crumby, just refrigerate for some time.
5.All this cutting, frosting, chilling needs patience. So if you think you’re losing it, refrigerate everything and rest for some time.
6.You’ll use only half of the buttercream frosting. Refrigerate the remaining frosting and use to frost cupcakes or sandwich between cookies. You could halve the buttercream recipe if you don’t want extra frosting.