Monday, February 14, 2011

Puzzle Cake Tutorial!

 When we were at the Balsams' last summer, they served this gorgeous Puzzle Cake. The cake was intricate and multi-layered.  Every time I tried to "figure out" how they made it, I was baffled. I was intrigued.  I looked online to find some instructions, but found mostly pictures and some verbiage.  I found the instructions hard to follow so I was discouraged.
But, I decided to tackle it today.

It is a very time consuming cake to make.  But, it is worth it.  It requires a lot of cake and a LOT of frosting.  And a lot of time.  The key is to make the layers and give the cake at least 20 minutes in the refrigerator for each layer to settle.

4 cakes
12 cups buttercream frosting
6 - 8 cake boards

1. Start off by baking the cakes.  I used cake mix - one white and one chocolate.  I followed the recipe on the box, with the exception of using softened butter instead of oil.  I also beat the butter with the eggs and then added the water and cake mix.  This produced a thicker batter.  (This cake should be made with genoise batter, which is a sponge cake.  It needs the structure of sponge, not a heavy cake, not a fluffy cake.)  But, modifying the boxed mix made a good alternative.
2. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.  Slice off the rounded tops of the cakes, you want them to be flat on top.  Wrap them in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until ready to use.
3. When ready, slice each cake into three layers or if the cakes are thin, slice them into 2 layers.  Three layers are preferable, but you don't want the layers to be too thin.
4. Spread 3/4 cup of frosting on top of one layer. Repeat with 2 more layers.  Set this three layer cake aside in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to set.  This will become the BOTTOM of the finished product.

This will be the BOTTOM LAYER

 5. Now, make the top layer. This layer can be made with 4 - 6 layers.  But the key is to make the cake almost as tall as it is wide.  This will produce a thick cake.
 I made this cake by making 2 parts, chilling them and then combining them.  Each part was 3 layers of cake, for a total of 6 layers of cake.  Again, place a thin layer of frosting in between each layer of cake.

6. Remove from the fridge and combine both layers. This is the TOP of the cake.  To build this, we have to find a knife long enough to cut through all the layers.  Also, it should be serrated and pointy.  Chill this cake for another 20 minutes.
7. Trace a circle 1"-2" in from the circumference of the cake. I used a upside down bowl and etched and edge with the knife.
8. I removed the bowl and sliced into the cake.  Cut at an angle, so that you are making an upside down triangle (or a core).
Remove the inner core by flipping it onto a cake board.
10. Frost the hollowed out cake part and the top edge as well.  Leave the upside down core aside. (Notice the pretty layers in the core...)
11. Now, take the BOTTOM layer and turn it upside down onto the top of the frosted hollow cake.  (Notice the bottom of the cake board.)
12. Now Flip the entire thing upside down.  Remove the cake board.  You will see that the cake crater is now showing. Gently press the sides of the crater.

13. Take the core and place inside the crater.  It will not fit.  Don't worry.
14. Now, slowly press the core a bit at a time, more like try and convince it to go in.  If you notice that the BOTTOM layer starts to crumble, stop pressing and make a collar out of parchment paper or waxed paper.  Secure with masking tape.  Resume coaxing the core into the cake.
Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
15. Remove from fridge and frost with a thin crumb coat.  Return to fridge for another 30 minutes and then frost the final coat of frosting.
16. I pressed crumbs into the side of the cake, but you can use cookie crumbs, cake crumbs, sprinkles or leave it naked.  Get ready to be surprised....

And this is how it looks when it is cut.  Quite the puzzle!

Vary the colors of frosting and cakes as desired.


SOFIA said...

Amazing! Great job!

Mickey said...

Love it! You are brave. It came out wonderfully :)

Mandy said...

Incredible! I love it!

Miriam said...

What a fun and delicious cake! It would be anyone's favorite :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Alexis AKA MOM said...

Wow that looks like so much fun I so would mess it up ... lol

Alexis AKA MOM said...

I'm your newest follower forgot to say that .. :)

shopannies said...

wow what an awesome cake you did a great job in creating it

Candace said...

You did a great job! I can't even imagine trying to create that in my kitchen.

Christy said...

oh my goodness! you really put a lot of work into that..but it was definitely worth it. i have never seen a puzzle cake is a labor of Love! thank you for sharing with tuesday night supper club.

Michelle said...

That is really cool! I don't think I could do it...a little thing called patience! Kuos for figuring out and sharing it!

Amy said...

How interesting to make this cake! It's my first time seeing how a puzzle cake is being made. So wonderful and it certainly is fun when cutting it up! :)


Amy said...

How interesting to make this cake! It's my first time seeing how a puzzle cake is being made. So wonderful and it certainly is fun when cutting it up! :)


a moderate life said...

Hi Danny, I wanted to welcome you personally to the hearth and soul hop. I am now following your blog. This cake reminds me of the checkerboard cakes my husband's mother used to make for him as a child. You can GET a checkerboard pan and then using alternating chocolate and vanilla cake batter create the very look that took you so much work to make! I love that you tried it and it was a success! Thanks for sharing this with the hearth and soul hop! All the best, Alex@amoderatelife