Tuesday, June 8, 2004

If you’re like me, you find baking for family and friends to be good fun, even relaxing. But what about when someone asks you to bake a wedding cake?

Or something for a bridal shower? Do you want to run and hide? Well, the doctor is here to remove panic from that proposition.

You wouldn’t be asked to bake such an important cake if you weren’t pretty handy at cake baking in the first place.

And because cake mixes are so consistent, you can add some of your favorite ingredients and know confidently that the cake will bake up beautifully on the important day.

Choose a recipe with rich, elegant flavors, such as the one that follows. And keep the decorations simple yet elegant, too.

In other words, don’t go running out to sign up for a Wilton cake decorating course.

Look around for fresh fruit and flowers.

This recipe is the perfect dessert for small weddings, showers, christenings or anniversaries. It begins with a white cake mix, to which you add whole eggs, melted butter and vanilla. In other words, yummy.

You slather on a white-chocolate-infused cream-cheese frosting, and you sandwich seedless raspberry preserves between the layers. That leaves my favorite no-fuss and yet over-the-top decoration: fresh raspberries.

Pack the top of the cake wall to wall with fresh raspberries, and, just before serving, dust it with confectioners’ sugar.

Place this cake on an old, pretty platter or cake stand, preferably silver or glass, and surround it with fresh mint or clean, fresh flowers from your garden.

Time-shaving tips

• Instead of layers, opt for an easier 13-by-9-inch pan. Slice into squares, topping each piece with one fresh raspberry.

• Forgo the white chocolate frosting and just whip heavy whipping cream and sweeten it with sugar.

• No raspberry jam? No problem. Use peach or apricot.

• Bake the layers weeks in advance; freeze and thaw them before assembling and frosting the cake.

• Use the microwave oven to melt the chopped white chocolate in less than a minute and to soften the cream cheese for the frosting.

Bride’s cake with raspberry filling and white chocolate frosting

The preparation time is 15 minutes, the baking time is 27 to 29 minutes, and the assembly time is 25 minutes.


Vegetable-oil spray for misting the pans

Flour for dusting the pans

1 18.25-ounce package plain white cake mix

1 cup whole milk

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla


6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

4 tablespoons (half stick) butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

1 cup fresh raspberries, rinsed and drained

Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Generously mist two 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable-oil spray, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pans aside.

Place cake mix, milk, melted butter, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again, if needed.

The batter should look well-blended. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side.

Bake the cakes until they’re light brown and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 27 to 29 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven, and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of the cakes, and invert each onto a rack, then invert them again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. Allow to cool completely, 30 minutes more.

Meanwhile, prepare the white chocolate frosting. Place the white chocolate in a small saucepan, and melt it over low heat, 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat, and let the chocolate cool. Place cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl.

Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well-combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine. Add the melted white chocolate; blend on low for 30 seconds. Add the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar, and blend on low speed for 30 seconds more. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and beat until the frosting is fluffy, 1 minute more.

Place one cake layer, right side up, on a serving platter. Spread the top with a thin layer of the white chocolate frosting, then spread with the raspberry jam, spreading the jam with a spatula up to 1 inch from the cake edge. Place the second layer, right side up, on top of the jam. Spread frosting on the top and sides of the cake with clean, smooth strokes. Garnish cake with the fresh raspberries. Slice and serve. Makes 16 servings.


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