The Beautiful Sleeping Aurora

Finally I made the Princess Aurora cake for my granddaughter Vivian’s birthday – 20 Covid days late. The extra days gave me extra time to obsess and agonize on the design and execution. The original design was to be 4 layers of 10” cake for the base and 3 of 8” for the top and serve 60 people. We are down to 9 people and a scaled down cake.

I made most of the decorations a few weeks ago and kept them safely tucked away until now. All the flowers and birds are gumpaste. The roses were made using the typical technique of adding several rows of die cut petals. The other flowers were also die cut and while still flexible placed on a slightly crumpled sheet of parchment paper to give them some contour.

The letters fondant, rolled thick and cut with a die. A sharp knife cut the pattern into the letters which were airbrushed gold and dusted with glitter. The picture frame was cut from rolled gumpaste, allowed to dry and the edges were painted gold. Gumpaste glue stuck the picture to the frame.

The drapes and dress are darker pink dyed, rolled fondant and dusted with silver petal dust. The crown is gold airbrushed gumpaste cut in the shape of Princess Aurora’s crown. Gold glitter was dusted on the still slightly wet crown. The “4” is tempered dark chocolate, airbrushed with gold and dusted (too heavily) with gold glitter. (The fingerprints are mine.)

The top two 6” layers are white cake and the bottom three 8” layers and my extreme chocolate cake (family favorite.) I am not a fan of this white cake. (I constantly and this far unsuccessfully search for a recipe that is light and moist.) The frosting is a simple buttercream with 3:1 butter to shortening ratio.

Many techniques, lots of time, tons of fun making this cake.

Tender White Cake

• 326g (2¾c) Unbleached Cake Flour Blend
• 333g (1⅔c) sugar; superfine sugar is best
• 1 Tablespoon baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 170g (12Tbl) unsalted butter, softened
• 4 large eggs whites plus 1 whole large egg
• 227g (1c) whole milk (2% plus 4Tbl Heavy Cream)
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon almond extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 8″ x 2″ or 9″ x 2″ round pans; a 9″ x 13″ pan; or 2 standard cupcake pans (20 to 24 cupcakes) by greasing and flouring; or lining with parchment, then greasing the parchment. Note: Make sure your 8″ round pans are at least 2″ deep; if they’re not, use one of the other pan options.
  2. Mix all of the dry ingredients on slow speed to blend. Add the soft butter and mix until evenly crumbly, like fine damp sand. It may form a paste, depending on the temperature of the butter, how much it’s mixed, and granulation of the sugar used.
  3. Add the egg whites one at a time, then the whole egg, beating well after each addition to begin building the structure of the cake. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt (or milk) with the vanilla and almond extracts. Add this mixture, 1/3 at a time, to the batter. Beat 1 to 2 minutes after each addition, until fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes for 8″ or 9″ rounds; 23 to 26 minutes for a 9″ x 13″ x 2″ sheet cake; or 20 minutes for cupcakes. A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean when done. Remove from the oven, remove from the pan, if desired (not advisable for a 9″ x 13″ sheet cake), cool on a rack, and frost.
  6. Yield: Two 8″ or 9″ round layers; one 9″x 13″ x 2″ sheet cake, or 20 to 24 cupcakes.

Basic Crusting Buttercream

• 1/2 cup solid high ratio shortening (1/4 cup Crisco, ¾ cup butter)
• 1/2 cup butter softened (see above)
• 1 tablespoon of merengue powder
• 1 teaspoon Clear Vanilla Extract (or extract of choice)
• 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (approx. 1 lb.)
• 2 tablespoons milk

  1. In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer.
  2. Add vanilla and milk.
  3. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating on a slow speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often.
  4. Keep bowl or covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks.
  5. Don’t over whip or it will bring air to the icing and will be impossible to smooth.
    If you have a kitchen Aid use white attachment, not whip attachment.
    YIELD: Makes about 3 cups.

Break the Fast 2012

Welcome to 5773! Did anyone else see the giant matzo ball slide down the tower into the huge bowl of soup in Tel Aviv last week? Totally awesome this year! Great light show, spectacular music! Don’t miss it next year!!!

Following tradition Fran and I broke the fast last night at a bagel dinner with friends, hosted by Ilayne and Amy. I was asked to bring a cake, so keeping with the dinner theme, I made a bagel cake. This cake is white velvet frosted with crusting chocolate butter cream and filled with a combination of white and “salmon” colored butter cream frosting. The lettuce is thin rolled gum paste where the edges were rolled with a round ended modeling tool. The lettuce and flowers were airbrushed in the appropriate colors. The spices on the top of the cake to make it look kind of “ET”ish (onion, garlic and seeds) are Duff’s Smores Sugar Sprinkles

Brinnnnggg… Brinnnnggg… Brinnnnggg… No wait!

It was a bee-dup, not a brinnnngggg, yeah thats right bee-dup. Hold on, it wasn’t a bee-dup either it was definitely a deedle-deee, yes that’s it, a deedle-dee. Marc send me an email not a phone call or text, requesting a cake for his mom’s 80th birthday party. He wanted one cake shaped like an eight and the other like a zero. After some serious investigative questioning of the client I discoverer his mom likes hazelnut and black and white. So the plan was set. One chocolate cake shaped like an eight with hazelnut butter-cream frosting, and one round white cake for the zero with white hazelnut cake and butter-cream frosting. Through various devious and nefarious means I also discovered the cake would need to feed about 45-50 ravenous 80 year-olds.

Now that the cake(s) were designed, the logistics needed to be planned. I decided one two layer 12″ cake for the zero and two 8″ two (I love numbers) layer cakes with the bottoms of each cut off and the flat sides set together to make the eight.

The 12″ cakes should take about 90 minutes to make and bake, then another 30-45 min to cool. (Wrapped in the heavy duty plastic wrap I use it will stay fresh for at least a week.)  The chocolate cake is pretty easy, but as I only have three 8″ cake pans I knew I would have to make 2 batches. If I had one set of cakes made and cooled, I could frost/decorate it while the other cakes cooled. Make one cake Thursday, one Friday and frost/decorate Saturday, no problem.

I made the hazelnut cake Thursday night after work in one single LARGE batch. Friday night I made two of the four chocolate cakes before dinner and the final two after. Saturday morning I leveled the first of the two 12″ and would you believe it the *#&%#@ of the  12″ cake wasn’t cooked at all. *#&%#@ !!. It’s Saturday morning and now I have to make two more *#&%#@ 12″ cakes, cool them, frost and decorate before 5:30 when its time for our traditional New Year’s pizza and a movie. I decided to make the hazelnut cakes one at a time, it takes longer but is safer and I didn’t have time for any more *#&%#@ errors*#&%#@. While the first cake was baking I made a double recipe of butter cream frosting, crumb coated and cut the chocolate cakes, putting them in the fridge to set. I baked the second set of hazelnut cakes at a lower temperature for a longer time, covering the cakes with aluminum foil to keep them from over-browning. (While the first cake was cooling and the second was baking, Fran and I went and upgraded our iPhone 3’s to iPhone 4s’s, a good move at a great price. The new phones are much faster and we probably wont complain about the speed for a month or two.)

After lunch (note Wendy’s cup in one picture) I frosted the two now cooled hazelnut cakes which were baked perfectly. The white cakes did not need a crumb coat (thankfully) so I could frost and decorate them fairly quickly. My piping is definitely improving, but as I can barely read my own handwriting I do not hold out much hope for my lettering. The ribbons and flowers really set the cake off nicely.

Now, for the mechanics: White Hazelnut Cake

Ingredients (for one 12″ round cake)

  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of hazelnuts. (I used a blender on “food processor”) level and beat the *#&%#@ out of them, then sifted the lees through a strainer leaving essentially hazelnut flour)
  • 1 tablespoon and 2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 cups milk


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12 inch round cake pan. Fran bought these exceptionally cool silicone liners which i cut to fit the bottom of the cake pan, parchment paper will also work and both make the cake release from the pan very easily.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. (Be sure they are well creamed, 7-8 min at level 2 on my KitchenAid mixer. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, alternately add these dry ingredient and milk to the creamed mixture starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 60 minutes, covered with aluminum foil, in the preheated oven.  To keep the bottom from over browning try setting the cake pan in an inch of water as it bakes. I did not try this, but will next time.

Chocolate Cake and Butter Cream Frosting

Both are described elsewhere in abatteredoldsuitcase so I won’t re-iterate here. I did substitute 3 oz of Frangelica for the vanilla to give the frosting the hazelnut flavor.

Valentines Day Flower Bouquet

I decided to make a bouquet of Flowers for my Jersey Girl for Valentines Day last spring. (I really don’t need a reason to give Fran flowers, but this was a good excuse to practice, practice, practice)

I made a variety of flowers based on a picture I found online. This took some time and the little white flowers and red berries tried my patience. But it was worth it. I don’t think I have made any this nice since last spring.