Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ombre Petal Cake Tutorial

I've got to give it to Pinterest again.  This past weekend we threw a welcome home party/baby shower for my sister-in-law.  I was flip-flopping whether to buy a delectable Wegmann's fruit filled sheet cake (if you've tried it, you know what I'm talking about!), or make my own.  If I went with Wegmann's, I'd end up with the traditional old-school floral cake.  So instead, I decided to make a cake that would go with our purple/blue theme, and taste (hopefully) something similar to the Wegmann's one.

And here you have it....The Ombre Petal Cake!

Now, I've made quite a few fondant cakes, and I definitely prefer buttercream over it for a few reasons. Fondant is much more tedious to work with, and everyone will agree that it tastes awful!

Making the Cake in Advance

Yes, you can make your cake in advance.  Even five days prior is just fine, unless you're using fruit filling. I made this cake on Friday night for a Sunday evening party.

I used an 8" Wilton cake pan and made three layers of yellow cake.  

Cake Release

That feeling when you flip your pan in hopes for perfection, only to find a chunk of cake stuck to the pan! Avoid starting on the wrong foot.  Don't just grease your pan with oil.  To ensure that your cake comes out clean, you need to grease your pan with cake release.  A very simple recipe for this is to mix 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup shortening, and 1/4 cup flour.

Layered Cake

If you decide to use store-bought cake mix, to make three layers of cake, you'll need to measure out just under 1.5 cups of cake batter for each layer of cake before pouring the batter into the pan.  Or you can bake one batch and cut the cake into layers using floss or a cake leveler.  This photo is before the third layer was put on.

No more cake leveling!

The dome on the top of a cake forms because the edges cook faster than the center.  To prevent the dome, you can do a few things.

1. If you bake at a lower temperature, the cake bakes more evenly.  I baked each one at 325 degrees instead of 350 degrees for 20 mins each.  The amount of batter depends on the length of time you should keep it in. The general rule is when the toothpick comes out clean, it's done.  Although I've read that if you want the cake to be moist, the clean toothpick means it has over baked.

2. You can use bake even strips, or you can make your own! Just lay together pieces of foil to make a long enough strip to cover the sides of the pan and a damp strip of paper towel down the middle.  Then fold over the foil to hold the paper towel in place and wrap it around the pan.  The moisture in this strip keeps the edges of the cake cooler and the entire cake bakes around the same temperature.  

I used both methods for the cake and got a nice flat top.  

Let your cake cool in the pan for about ten minutes before flipping.  

Cake Filling

For this cake, I used banana pudding filling for the first layer.  I used half a box of pudding and slices of one banana which I dipped in diluted orange juice/water so they wouldn't brown.  The second layer was strawberry filling--half of this recipe.

Before filling your cake, you must pipe frosting around the edges to build a dam so the filling doesn't drip out. You can use a piping bag or use a ziplock bag and cut a hole at the tip.


Just before you get to the petal frosting, apply a thin coat of frosting all over the cake (this can be store bought).  While spreading, avoid touching the cake directly with the knife. You'll end up picking up crumbs.

Now for the petal frosting.  

I used this decorator's buttercream frosting recipe.  I would not use regular store bought cake frosting for this since it's too thin and will end up dripping.  This frosting was plenty for this cake.  I could have probably even halved the recipe, but you never want to run out of frosting!

I used this petal ombre cake video to guide me.  I started by dying my frosting all turquoise/sky blue in my stand mixer. Since I was only using three colors, I put 1/3 of the frosting into a ziplock bag.  I then added more blue food coloring and a little rose/red food coloring.  After I mixed this second batch, I put half of it in another ziplock bag.  For the last batch, I added more red food coloring until I got the purple I wanted and placed this in another ziplock bag.  I then cut the tips of the bags (like the video above) to imitate a piping bag.   

The spiral ombre petal design was inspired by this video.  Working up vertically, starting with the lightest color on the bottom, I applied two of each color to make a vertical line of six globs of frosting.  

I used this Wilton spatula to create the petal effect.  By dipping the spatula in warm water before each spread, you don't get bubbles in the frosting.  Push the glob in to create a dent and pull away.  

Repeat each vertical line by moving up one color each time you make a new row.  Make sure you wipe the knife after each glob spread.  

The same process can be repeated on top of the cake, except I pulled away in the opposite direction.  


This cake should be refrigerated so it can hold its form and stay fresh. One lesson I've learned is to invest in a cake caddy like this Wilton one.  

I actually remember trying to drive with a caddyless cake that I just made, and I recall all the angry drivers trying to overtake my car.  Don't make this mistake!  This caddy is also helpful to keep the cake covered before presenting it.  Kids loveee to poke their little anxious fingers at the cake to get a taste before serving. Rather than guarding the cake, invest in this!

Cake Topper

Finally for the cake topper.  I loved the idea of bunting flags held up by paper striped straws.  I got these straws from Michaels.  I used a knife to make 1/2" slits at the top of the straws and slipped in the string holding the flags.  

Happy baking!