Recipes: Show-stopping cakes

Recipes: Show-stopping cakes

Recipes: Show-stopping cakes Author: Style At Home


Recipes: Show-stopping cakes

The words may be the same, but our sentiment is decidedly different from that attributed to doomed Marie Antoinette. We think the holidays are the perfect time to reveal your culinary prowess to the world, and we’ve got just the thing to make it happen – two glorious confections, created and decorated by supertalented baker Yolanda Gampp of Food Network Canada’s SugarStars fame, along with a little help from our very own style and food editor Tara Ballantyne. Simply baked with one easy cake recipe (we promise!) and some decadent fillings, these cakes are dressed to the nines and presented in kind to inspire and share with those you love the most – or those you just want to impress….

Vanilla cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs
  • ⅔ cup 2% milk


1 Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2 In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3 Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

4 Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer running, add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, until thoroughly combined.

5 Divide the batter between three 8" round greased and floured cake pans.

6 Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans after 15 minutes of cooking time.

7 Remove the pans from the oven and cool completely.

Level of difficulty: Easy.
Prep time: 30 minutes.
Bake time: 30 to 40 minutes.
Makes 3 cakes.
Italian meringue buttercream

  • 2-¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 10 egg whites
  • 3 cups unsalted butter at room temperature,
  • cut into chunks
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract


1 In a saucepan set over medium heat, boil the sugar and water together until the mixture reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer.

2 When the sugar water reaches 230°F, start whipping the egg whites on high speed with an electric mixer.

3 When the sugar water reaches 240°F, remove the pan from the heat. With the mixer running, slowly pour the sugar water into the egg whites. Continue whipping until the mixing bowl is cool to the touch, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

4 With the mixer still running, add the butter in batches until combined. Add the vanilla until well blended. NOTE: This is the stage to add food colouring or any desired flavouring, such as melted chocolate, strong coffee, fruit purée or a liqueur.

5 Store the buttercream in an airtight container in your fridge or freezer. The buttercream will keep for one week in the fridge and up to two months in the freezer. Bring the icing to room temperature before using.

Level of difficulty: Intermediate.
Prep and cook time: 30 minutes.
Makes about 6 cups.
Semi-sweet chocolate ganache

  • 3-½ oz chopped semi-sweet baking chocolate (3-½ squares)
  • ½ cup whipping cream


1 Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.

2 In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the whipping cream until the edges bubble.

3 Pour the cream over the chocolate and cover. Let stand for 10 minutes.

4 Stir the cream into the chocolate with a wooden spoon until smooth.

5 Let the ganache stand at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours before using.

Level of difficulty: Easy.
Prep and cook time: 10 minutes.
Makes about 1 cup.

Click here to get the recipe for the caramel sauce. Caramel sauce

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, cubed


1 Boil the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Do not stir. Brush down the sides of the pan occasionally with a wet pastry brush to stop any crystals from forming.

2 When the mixture begins to turn an amber colour, stir lightly to disperse; continue to cook.

3 Once all the sugar is deep amber in colour, remove the pan from the heat and gently pour in the cream, being careful not to let the mixture bubble over.

4 Strain the hot sauce into a medium bowl and add the butter. Let the sauce sit until the butter is completely melted. Stir until well combined and continue to cool until the sauce reaches room temperature.

To make a caramel buttercream icing, stir ¼ cup of the caramel sauce into
2 cups of the buttercream.

Level of difficulty: Intermediate.
Prep and cook time: 30 minutes.
Makes about 1 cup.

lick here to learn how to create the layered cake. showstopping-cakes-howto1.jpg
How to create our show-stopping layered pine cone cake

You will need:

  • 1 recipe for Vanilla Cake
  • Filling (such as seedless raspberry jam)
  • 1 recipe for Italian Meringue Buttercream
  • 2-½ lbs of purchased fondant to cover cake (available at crafts or bulk-food stores)
  • Wilton gel colour in Teal
  • Rolling pin
  • Purchased chocolate fondant (available at crafts or bulk-food stores)
  • Petal-shaped cookie cutter
  • Small circle cutter (such as piping tip #11)
  • Small paintbrush
  • Pine cones for decoration


1 Remove the cooled vanilla cakes from the pans by running a knife or spatula around the inside edges of the cake pans and turning them out onto a large work surface or Lazy Susan (for easier icing). Use a serrated knife to level the cakes if necessary; slice each cake in half horizontally so you have six equal cake pieces in total.

2 Working with the first cake piece, spread a layer of filling on top (Yolanda used a seedless raspberry jam for this cake), then spread a layer of buttercream over the filling. Place a second cake piece on top and continue layering the filling, buttercream and cake pieces until you have a stacked six-layer cake.

3 Give the edge a crumb coat once you reach the third piece by spreading a very thin layer of buttercream around the sides and on the top that will “glue” any crumbs to the cake. This will help give the fondant a smooth finish later. Apply another crumb coat when the cake is completely stacked. Chill the cake for 30 minutes.

4 Roll the purchased fondant into a ball. Dot the teal gel colour onto the fondant and then knead the colour into the fondant using your hands (using food-safe gloves is recommended to keep the dye from staining your hands).

5 Roll out the fondant on a bed of icing sugar (as you would pie dough) to make a circle that’s approximately 16" in diameter. Pick up the fondant by rolling it around your rolling pin and carefully drape it over the cake. Working gently with your hands or a fondant smoother, smooth the fondant over the cake. Cut off the excess fondant around the base to use for the petals.

6 Form the excess fondant into a ball and add a bit more of the teal dye to it to make the darker blue fondant. Split the ball in half and dye one piece even darker. showstopping-cakes-howto2.jpg
Decorating the layered pine cone cake


1 Roll out the two shades of blue fondant and the chocolate fondant onto your work surface. Cut enough petals out of the blue shades to circle the cake two or three times each. Use the end of the piping tip #11 to cut out the chocolate fondant dots.

2 Glue the petals around the bottom of the cake using a bit of water and a paintbrush. The water will dissolve some of the sugar in the fondant and make it sticky. Be careful not to overdo it.

3 Add the polka dots above the petal design in the same fashion.

4 Place the pine cones on top for a final touch and chill the cake for 1 hour, or until ready to serve.

TIP: Yolanda always colours her fondant bit by bit, using a toothpick or the tip of a knife to add the colour slowly. You can always add more but you can’t remove it. showstopping-cakes-howto3.jpg
How to create our showstopping layered vintage snowflake cake

You will need

  • 1 recipe Vanilla Cake
  • 1 recipe Semi-Sweet Chocolate Ganache
  • 1 recipe Italian Meringue Buttercream flavoured with caramel sauce
  • 2-½ lbs of purchased fondant to cover cake (available at crafts or bulk-food stores)
  • Wilton gel colour in Ivory and Rose
  • Rolling pin
  • Edible blue and pink pearls and silver dragees
  • Small paintbrush
  • Decorative snowflakes
  • Vintage ornaments and ribbon for decoration


1 Prepare the vanilla cakes using the same method as the pine cone cake, substituting ganache for the raspberry jam and caramel buttercream for the plain buttercream. Colour the fondant with the ivory gel colour and drape the fondant over the cake as before, cutting away the excess.

2 colour the excess fondant with the rose gel colour and roll it out with your hands into a long thin rope; cut the rope into 8 equal pieces. Draw a swag pattern onto the cake with a wet paintbrush. You can use a glass or something round, if needed, to help you outline the design.

3 Gently pick up the fondant strings and glue them to the cake, following the swag. Add the blue pearls along the top at the joints, holding them in place with a touch of icing. Add the pink pearls and the snowflakes the same way.

4 The cake should start to “sweat” once it has been out for a while. At this point, sprinkle the silver dragees onto the sides. Tie some ribbon to the tops of your ornaments and place on the cake; chill the cake for 1 hour, or until ready to serve.


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Recipes: Show-stopping cakes