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.

Graduation 2022

My younger granddaughter graduated pre-school today and I made a cake for her celebration party. The cake was relatively simple, extreme chocolate cake for the cap and marble cake for the base. The mortarboard was a 1/4” thick piece of tempered dark chocolate.

The time consuming part of this cake was making all the little decorations. The tassels were made by cutting a 1/8” rectangle of fondant 2.5” wide and slicing it into 1 1/2” x 1/4” strips, leaving the top 1” intact. Cut each three strip piece apart leaving the 1” header. Paint one side of the header with water and roll up. Twist each of the strips to form the tassel. Let dry. Paint the gold tassels and leave some white. Make another set using the black fondant.

Roll another sheet (or a portion of the above) and cut with a circulate cutter. (I used a large piping tip,) Again, paint the gold ones, leave some white ones and cut out the black.

The mortarboard was made by pouring tempered dark chocolate onto a parchment lined cutting board. Before it was completely set and hard use a straight edge to cut it into a 8”x8” square.

Extreme Chocolate Cake

Makes two 9” round cakes

(Makes one 10’ ROUND CAKE [and two 5”] – quantities are in parenthesis. Or one 11”x15”x2” sheet cake.)
• 2 cups white sugar (3)
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (2 2/3)
• 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (1 ¼)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (2 ¼)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (2 ¼)
• 1 teaspoon salt (1 ½)
• 2 eggs (3)
• 1 cup milk (1 ½)
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil (¾)
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (3)
• 1 cup boiling water (1 ½)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. (SEE QTY FOR 10” CAKES)
  2. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa,baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans. (For cupcakes,portion ¼ scant cups in each cupcake paper.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or 205F internal temp. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.

Marble Cake

• 454 g cake flour
• 454 g granulated sugar
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 Tablespoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 4 large eggs room temperature
• 142 g vegetable oil
• 397 g buttermilk room temperature or slightly warm
• 227 g butter unsalted and softened
• 2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
• 29 g cocoa powder dutch or natural
• 85 g hot water
• 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder for dusting

Cake Batter

  1. Prepare three 8″x2″ cake pans with cake goop or another preferred pan spray. Preheat your oven to 335ºF
  2. Bring your butter, milk, and eggs to room temperature. It’s really important when making a cake for the ingredients to all be slightly warm so they create an emulsion.
  3. Heat the water until it’s simmering and then combine it with your cocoa powder.
  4. Stir it until the cocoa powder is moistened. It will look lumpy, but that is normal.
  5. Set it aside and let it cool while you prepare the cake batter.
  6. In a separate container, combine 3/4 cup of the milk and the oil together and set it aside.
  7. In a separate container, combine the remaining milk, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract together. Whisk it to break up the eggs, and then set it aside.
  8. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with the paddle attachment. Mix for 10 seconds to combine everything.
  9. Add your softened butter to the flour mixture and mix on low until the mixture resembles coarse sand (this takes about 30 seconds). This style of mixing is called the reverse creaming method, and it will result in a very velvety, moist cake. A lot of my other cake recipes like brown butter cake and white velvet buttermilk cake use this method.
  10. Add in your milk/oil mixture and mix it on low until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  11. Increase the speed to medium (setting 2 on my Bosch Mixer, setting 4 on a KitchenAid) and let it mix for 2 minutes to develop the cake’s structure. If you don’t let your cake mix on this step, your cake could collapse.
  12. Scrape your bowl and then reduce the speed to low.
  13. Add in your egg mixture in three batches, letting the batter mix for 15 seconds between additions.
  14. Scrape down the sides again to make sure everything has incorporated.
  15. Marbling the Cake Batter
  16. Take out 1/3 of your batter and combine it with the cooled chocolate mixture and fold it gently until it’s combined.
  17. Layer your batter into your pans, starting with vanilla, then chocolate, and ending with vanilla.
  18. Use a butter knife to swirl them together gently. Do not over-mix or your cake will not have a marbled interior.
  19. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes at 335ºF (168ºC) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out cleanly (but the cake has not begun to shrink yet from the sides of the pan). IMMEDIATELY TAP THE PAN FIRMLY on the countertop once to release the steam from the cake. This stops the cake from shrinking.
  20. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes inside of the pan before flipping them out. The cake will shrink a bit and that is normal.
  21. Flip the cake onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely. I chill my cakes before handling them, or you can wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them to trap moisture in the cake.
  22. Thaw the cake on the countertop while it’s still wrapped before frosting.

Marshmallow Fondant

• 1 package (16 ounces) white mini marshmallows
• 2-5 tablespoons water
• 2 pounds sifted confectioners’ sugar
• 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening

  1. Grease your mixing bowl and a glass bowl that can be used to melt marshmallows in the microwave.
  2. Place the marshmallows, water and flavoring of your choice in greased glass bowl and microwave on high at 30 second intervals.
  3. Stir every 30 seconds until marshmallows are completely melted, about 2 minutes.
  4. Sift one half of the 2 pound bag of confectioner’s sugar in a greased mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the confectioner’s sugar and pour in the melted marshmallows.
  5. I use the paddle attachment for my KitchenAid mixer for this first part of the mixture.
  6. Mix until all the melted marshmallows are incorporated in the confectioner’s sugar.
  7. Add any food coloring at this point.
  8. Mixture will be thick but still runny.
  9. Sift the remaining half bag of confectioner’s sugar into the melted marshmallows.
  10. Mix on low until it comes together.
  11. Change to your dough hook attachment as this will get extremely thick.
  12. Fondant will be very thick and have a dough like consistency
  13. Wrap fondant in saran and make sure no air gets to it.
  14. Rest fondant for at least an hour before use.