September 3, 2012

Champagne & Strawberries Ombre Cake

It's my husband's and my first anniversary this week.  Our wedding cake was completely eaten, so we did not do the save-the-cake tradition (which honestly we probably wouldn't have done anyway, since year-old cake sounds a little unappetizing).  I thought that instead, a new cake featuring pink champagne and strawberries would be appropriate for the occasion.

The inspiration for this cake came from May Clee-Cadman's "Champagne Bubbles" cake (from Sweet and Simple Party Cakes).  The royal icing dots on the side of the cake are meant to look like champagne bubbles.  The bubbles are darker at the base of the cake and subtly (a little too subtly on this cake I think) get lighter as they go up the cake.

For the ruffled flower on top, I followed a tutorial at Balanced Bites and used pure fondant.

To get a nice, clean look for this cake, I decided to cover it with rolled fondant.  I've never done this before, although it's been something I've wanted to try for a while.

Yikes...I made a lot of mistakes!  Honestly, I think I made every single mistake possible while covering a cake with rolled fondant.  There were cracks in the fondant, places where it didn't get smoothed out and bunched up, parts where I cut the bottom too close, and weird bumps due to an imperfect frosting job.  Also, I applied a very thin coat of frosting over the cake, because I read that this would prevent the fondant from sliding around on the frosting.  While I didn't have any problems with sliding, you could see the cake layer coloring through the thin fondant!

Sigh.  I think this will take a bit more practice to get right.  In the meantime, I got to practice minimizing mistakes with my camera!

The champagne cake and strawberry frosting were really excellent.  With this recipe, you really taste the champagne, and the strawberry frosting was like strawberry ice cream.  Together, they were really delicious.  I would have liked a touch more strawberry frosting to go with the cake layers.  However, I had frosted this very thin because I was covering it with fondant, so I think a normal frosting job would yield a perfect balance of flavors.

Although the cake layers and frosting were tasty, the fondant was....not.  I really dislike the way fondant tastes and feels on cakes.  It ruins the soft and creamy texture of the cake and ups the sweetness of it (which maybe some people like, but I don't).   My husband also disliked the fondant (his exact words, upon trying the cake were, "Mmmm...that's some bad fondant.").  The solution?  We peeled the fondant off of our cake slices.

I have heard that homemade fondant tastes better, but I don't think there's a way to get around the texture issue.  I think that, unless I really want a clean look (as I did for this cake), I'll mostly be sticking with frosting or buttercream.

Champagne & Strawberries Ombre Cake

Pink Champagne Ombre Cake
Adapted from Sweetapolita's Pink Champagne Cake Pops recipe.  Makes 5 thin 6" round layers.

2 cups (240 g) cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1⅓ cup (267 g) sugar
1⅓ cup pink champagne
red or pink food coloring

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F.
  2. Prepare up to five 6" round pans by lining the bottom with parchment paper and oiling and flouring the bottoms and sides.  If you have fewer than five pans (as I did), you'll have to bake the layers in two or more batches.
  3. Sift the flour, powder, soda, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the egg whites and vanilla.
  5. Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy (about 5 minutes).
  6. Add the egg whites and vanilla mixture gradually to the butter and sugar.
  7. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the champagne to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
  8. Evenly divide the batter into five different bowls (I found it easiest to use bowls that were roughly the same weight, and then to weigh each bowl with batter to ensure it was divided evenly).
  9. Set one bowl aside (this will be your lightest color).  Dye the remaining four portions pink, light pink, lighter pink, and very light pink.  Try to get a nice gradual color progression, and remember that it's always possible to add more color, but not possible to remove it!
  10. Spoon each batter color into its own prepared pan.  Bake for 12-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  11. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.

Whipped Strawberry Frosting
Adapted from Sweetapolita's Whipped Strawberry Frosting recipe.  Makes enough for a full coat of frosting (I had some left over).

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2⅔ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
½ tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons pureed strawberries or strawberry jam

  1. Whip the butter on medium speed for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and salt.  Continue to whip for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Add the strawberry puree or jam and mix until incorporated.
  4. Refrigerate if the frosting gets too thin for frosting.

Royal Icing
For ombre champagne bubbles and base decoration.

1 cup powdered sugar
½ tablespoon meringue powder
1½ tablespoons water (plus more for getting the right consistency)
red or pink food coloring

  1. Mix all ingredients on low speed for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Distribute royal icing into four bowls.
  3. Set one bowl aside (this will be your lightest color).   Dye the remaining three portions pink, light pink, and very light pink.  Try to get a nice gradual color progression, and remember that it's always possible to add more color, but not possible to remove it!
  4. Before piping, add water to each color until you get a good consistency.  The royal icing should be thin enough to form a smooth dot shape without any pointy parts, but thick enough to not roll off the cake.


Level each cake layer using a knife.
Frost the top of the darkest colored cake layer.  Place the next darkest on top, and frost the top of that.
Repeat with the next three cake layers.

Frost the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of strawberry frosting.  Try to smooth out the frosting as much as possible, but don't worry too much about crumbs.

Roll out a thin layer of fondant - approximately 14" in diameter.  For the fondant, I used the store-bought brand Satin Ice, but you can make it yourself as well.
Cover the cake with fondant and carefully smooth the fondant over the cake.  Trim excess fondant off of the bottom of the cake (don't cut it too close like I did).

If you are less-than-confident in your ability to pipe dots in straight lines (like me), use a pin and a paper guide to lightly mark the fondant with where you will pipe your champagne bubbles.
Using the darkest color of royal icing, pipe a thin snail trail using a #3 tip around the base of the cake.
Still using the darkest color, pipe the lowest row of dots.

Switch to the next-darkest color.  Pipe the next two rows of dots.  Repeat with the next-darkest color.
With the lightest color, pipe the remaining rows of dots.
Finish with a fondant flower if you wish.


  1. absolutely gorgeous. heaven. magical.

  2. Wow, this cake is beautiful. I love it. To be honest, I always see flaws in my cakes. The people that eat my cakes see masterpieces and really that is all that matters. Well that and of course it tasting delicious. I make my fondant homemade and I think it taste better. But you are right, it is hard to get over the texture. I know a lot of people that want the clean smooth look of fondant then peel it off to eat the cake. Thanks for posting a link to my ruffle flower tutorial.

  3. I recognized this cake from that cookbook, Tanner's mom has it. Sounds totally delicious. I agree, homemade fondant is better, but really it never tastes that good. Pretty cake and photos.

  4. It's a stunning cake, I feel so inspired now. It's also nice to know I'm not the only one that makes mistakes ;) thanks x

  5. Congratulations on your first whole year together! It's amazing how the time flies; for me it feels like your wedding happened just last month.

    The cake looks AMAZING. I'm sure it was delicious! Keep up the fantastic work!!
    -Chris M

  6. This cake is mind-blowingly gorgeous!

  7. Your cake actually looks really beautiful and I think you did an amzing job for a first attempt at covering with fondant. I find Bakels Pettinice to be the best tasting fondant, but you are so correct... fondant is a love or hate kind of element to a cake. Thank you for all your advice and honesty :-)

  8. Huh. I'd never heard of Bakels Pettinice before - I might have to give it a try next time. Thanks!

  9. So, does chocolate plastic taste better than fondant (as per your first post? Amazing blog keep up the inspiring work. Sally from Sydney.

    1. Yes, it does. I've tried covering a cake with a chocolate plastic/fondant mixture to try and get a better taste, but was unsuccessful. I'd like to keep trying though - I'll post about it if I ever get it to work.

  10. this one tasted heavenly!! It did not turn out as pretty as yours, im afraid, but nevertheless wonderful! Thank you so much for the inspiration,

    Best regards

  11. hi ..I just wonder..if I would like to stack 2 x 10 inch and a 6 inch cake you think I can use this recipe ?"

    1. I don't have much experience stacking cakes, so I'm not sure. I don't really see any reason why not, however.

    2. I don't have much experience stacking cakes, so I'm not sure. I don't really see any reason why not, however.

  12. I would try the European style boiled fondant. I've never worked with it, but our baker for our wedding cake used it, and it was so thin and soft, it was wonderful! (Almost more like a thin marzipan coating texture.) I hate fondant, so she convinced us to let her use that, it worked well.


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