Makes a 4-tiered round cake.
Serves 50 for dessert, 100 as petit fours.
Preheat oven to 325 °F. Grease cake pans and line bottom and sides with parchment paper. This recipe can be made 2 batches by hand, or in one batch in a very large bowl using electric beaters.
Beat butter, sugar, cocoa powder and eggs until smooth and even. Add milk and vanilla and beat in well. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, ginger, salt and baking soda and add to cocoa mixture, blending until smooth. While slowly beating, pour in hot coffee. Pour batter evenly between pans (put them side-by-side to gauge height) and bake 6-inch tier for about 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The 8-inch cake should take another 10 minutes, the 10-inch 10 minutes more, and the 14-inch another 10 minutes beyond that. Let cakes cool for 20 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
For buttercream, whip egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy and add 1 cup of sugar, whipping until whites hold a soft peak. In a saucepot, combine remaining 1 ½ cups sugar and bring up to a boil. Using a candy thermometer, boil sugar without stirring until the temperature reaches 240 °F (or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, spoon a little hot sugar into a cup of cool water – when the sugar makes a “soft ball” then it’s ready).
Remove from heat and carefully pour sugar slowly down the side of the egg white bowl, whipping on medium speed. Continue whipping until all sugar has been added and keep whipping until whites have cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Still beating, add butter a little at a time until all has been added. The egg whites will deflate, but the butter adds back volume. Beat buttercream until smooth and stir in vanilla extract. Store buttercream at room temperature if frosting cake the same day, or refrigerate then bring up to room temperature and beat again to return to spreadable texture.
For royal icing, stir together all ingredients to blend then beat with electric beaters on high speed until mixture is stiff, about 7 minutes. Tint icing as desired. Cover surface of icing directly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature until ready to pipe.
To assemble cake, place 14-inch cake on largest platter. Slice cake horizontally into 2 layers. Spread a thin coating of buttercream over bottom layer and spread a layer of stirred raspberry jam over buttercream and top with second cake layer. Spread an even coating of buttercream over top and sides of cake, using the frosting to even out any unleveled areas and create clean edges. Set cake aside at room temperature while preparing remaining tiers.
Repeat slicing, filling and “masking” (frosting the cake) other 3 tiers. Brush away any excess crumbs and scrub down your work area before starting the rolling fondant.
To tint your fondant, add a little of the colour paste to a small ball (about ½ cup) of fondant and knead well. Add this ball to a larger portion of fondant (about 750 gm for 2 tiers) and knead by hand or in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Adjust colour as needed by adding more colour to intensify the tone or more icing to lighten the tone.
Lightly dust your rolling surface with icing sugar and tear off a portion of white fondant (I like to cover the white tiers first), and roll out to ½ -inch thick circle. Keep remaining fondant covered at all times. Use your rolling pin to roll up fondant and lift it gently over to 14-inch tier. Unroll fondant over cake and gently use you hands to adhere fondant to frosting. Trim bottom of fondant and rub fondant in a circular direction to create a smooth surface. If any airpockets appear, use a pin to release the air and rub the spot gently with your finger to erase the hole. Repeat this process with the 8-inch tier.
Roll the pink fondant similarly and cover the 10-inch and 6-inch tiers of cake. Let fondant set and dry overnight. Fondant can be re-rolled as many times as needed, provides the icing does not pink up any crumbs, reserving for decoration. Now that the cakes have been covered, they are essentially preserved and protected from air. You make makes these cakes up to 5 days ahead, and still have moist cake within!
To make sure layers remain stable, they must rest on wooden doweling. To do this, insert a length of doweling into bottom tier, at least 4 inches from the outside edge. Mark where the top of the cake ends at the doweling with a pen and remove. Cut doweling to marked length and cut 4 more pieces of identical length (this ensures you cake sits level, even if the frosting is just a hint off). Insert the five pieces of doweling into the cake in a circle and gently place the 10-inch tier on top. Repeat this step with the 8-inch and 6-inch tiers, placing 3 cuts of doweling to support the top tier.
To decorate the cake, bottom tier, wrap velvet ribbon around base of cake. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip with pink tinted royal icing. Pipe small dots around cake. Repeat this with the 8-inch white tier, wrapping with ribbon and creating a different dot pattern.
For pink tiers, roll out white fondant to ¼ inch thick and cut out desired shapes. Fasten dots to cake by brushing back of cut-out with egg white and adhering.
This cake can be prepared 5 days in advance and can sit at room temperature (out of direct sunlight) indefinitely.
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