secret heart cake
I made this recently as an engagement cake, but it could work equally well for other occasions.
Now the first thing to say here is that you are going to need some specialist equipment if you are going to make this cake… the Wilton Heart Cake Tin Set. How it works is that each tin is specially shaped so that when you turn the cakes out they have an indentation that you fill with buttercream etc and when you sandwich them together you get a heart shape going through the middle of the cake like magic…
secret heart cake tins – top of the heart on the left, bottom of the heart on the right
The second thing to say is that the special cake tin claims to come with a recipe book…which is fine if you live in the US but I for one have no idea what a ‘pack of yellow cake mix’ equates to in UK terms! The tins are pretty big so basically what you need is a double batch of cake mix.
I used the following vanilla cake recipe for each half of the cake – you could make both batches in one go, IF you have a mixing bowl big enough to take the mixture! I decided to play it safe and make one lot to fill one tin, and then the second lot to fill the second tin.
SO remember you will need DOUBLE the amounts below because you need to make two lots of this mix…
Ingredients (for each half of the cake)
200g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
200g golden caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 free range medium eggs (lightly beaten)
200 g self raising flour
Ingredients for the buttercream (again you will need to make two lots of this)
110g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 tsp almond extract (or you could use vanilla if you prefer)
500g icing sugar
pink or red food colouring (for the first batch only)
1. Preheat the oven to 180 c/160 c fan/gas mark 4. Grease the tins VERY well using the butter and then lightly dusting with flour method, or use a special cake release product if you have it – if any cake at all sticks to the tin, the heart shape will not come out properly.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine the butter, sugar, vanilla seeds scraped from the vanilla pod (cut the pod lengthways with a sharp knife and scrape the seeds out with the knife or a small spoon handle) and vanilla extract and beat until pale, soft and fluffy (this can take a little while, I used my electric mixer to save a bit of effort!).
3. Add the beaten eggs a quarter at a time (i.e. one egg at a time) and mix in slowly, add a spoonful of flour if it curdles. Then add the flour gradually and slowly mix until the dry flour has mostly been mixed in – don’t over mix.
4. Spoon the mix into one of the cake tins. You need to make sure that the mix covers all of the shaped bits of the tin, and repeat the above process to fill the second tin so that they look like this:
filled cake tins
The mix will look very high, but it needs to be in order to cover all of the shaping in the tin.
5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until golden and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool almost completely in the tins and then turn out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.
baked cake – bottom half of the heart
6. Make the first batch of buttercream, which should be pink/red as this will be the heart inside the cake. Beat the ingredients together (it is less messy to start by mixing only half the icing sugar with the other ingredients and then add the other half), add the food colouring and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy (3-5 minutes).
7. Once the cakes are completely cool, spoon the pink/red buttercream into the space in the cakes, filling right up to the top. You may find that the tops of the cakes need to be levelled slightly to make sure the edges are the same hight as the centre, you can do this using a sharp knife quite easily as the cake should be quite firm. Each cake should then look like this:
filled and levelled cake
8. Now its time to put the cake together… this is going to be very tall and very heavy so you need to assemble it where you want it to be! I used a cake board underneath, but as it was quite thin I also put this on top of a chopping board so I could easily carry it around the room when needed. Also make sure you know which cake is the bottom cake too, otherwise the heart will be upside down – the one with the v-shaped indentation is the bottom one, but you won’t be able to see this once you have filled it with buttercream! You can tell by seeing which is the deeper cake, this one is the bottom layer as you can see in the photo below.
When you are ready, carefully pick up the top layer and pop it on top of the bottom layer so that the two buttercream filled part are together and the cake looks like this:
building the cake step 1
9. Now you need to make the second batch of buttercream, which you can leave uncoloured. You are going to use a third to a half of this to crumb coat the entire cake (i.e. to roughly cover it in buttercream to cover any loose crumbs) – this can be rough and patchy, as its just a base:
crumb coated cake
10. Once the crumb coat is dry, you can go over it with the remaining buttercream to get the final finish. I tried to go for a fairly smooth finish, so I used a palette knife and a side scraper (something like this: Side Scraper in decorating utensils at Lakeland.) to smooth the icing round the sides of the cake. And the finished result looks deceptively simple:
secret heart engagement cake with bunting
11. Before serving, chill the cake in the fridge if at all possible – this will firm up the buttercream so that heart shape holds up as well as possible. And when slicing, use a really sharp knife and wipe it between each cut – if the cake gets squished then the buttercream will lose the heart shape when sliced.
The sheer amount of buttercream involved means this cake keeps really well (a week later the bit left over from the party was still fine!)
Next time I will try making it with chocolate cake…
(all photo credits miss suzylee)