Today’s post is extra special because I have some exciting news. My friend and fellow baker Rosie Alyea of Sweetapolita is releasing her first cookbook – The Sweetapolita Bakebook! I recieved an advance copy a few weeks ago and I’ve been paging through it ever since. It is utterly gorgeous! I feel so honored to be one of the first people to get to bake from it.
One of my favorite cakes in the book is the Watercolor Graffiti Cake. The aesthetic struck me immediately, and the painting-on-fondant technique is something I’m comfortable with. I just had to make it.
The book version of the cake is three tiers tall, which is a little more cake than we can consume in a timely manner (even with give-aways to family and friends) so I opted for a smaller version.
To get started, you’ll need a fondant-covered cake. I used Rosie’s Chocolate Butter Cake recipe, and you can find it at the end of this post. If you need help learning how to cover a cake with fondant, Rosie’s book has an excellent guide. In the interim, you may find this guide from Wilton helpful.
The painting technique isn’t difficult at all – no special art skills required! You’ll need a few different hues of gel food color, a couple of sponge stipplers, and clear vanilla extract or vodka.
Each food color is diluted with a little clear extract or vodka and then painted on with a stippler brush. Overlapping the colors will create a beautiful watercolor effect. I pressed a paper towel over the painted surface to give it a faint texture – so pretty!
I used magenta, turquoise and purple from this set of Wilton gel colors.
The gold leaf really pops on the cake’s painted surface. You can find it for purchase here, or you may use gold luster dust diluted in vodka. The latter creates a gold paint that you can brush or spatter over the cake’s surface.
We really loved the flavor of the chocolate butter cake. It was almost like eating layers of soft fudge brownies. Be sure to have a tall glass of milk handy!
If you’re an avid baker, or just someone who loves to look at beautiful desserts, then I urge you to pick up a copy of Rosie’s book. It’s filled with plenty of eye candy and it’s a great resource for bakers.
Be sure to check out the awesome giveaway on Sweetapolita now!
Chocolate Butter Cake
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup Dutch process dark cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk room temperature
- 1/2 cup hot coffee
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Grease the bottoms of three 8×2-inch round cake pans and line with parchment.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In a large measuring glass with a spout, combine the buttermilk and coffee. Set aside.
- I the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 8 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat well. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer, and using a rubber spatula, fold in one-third of the flour mixture until just combined. Add half of the buttermilk mixture and fold until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk mixtures. Fold in the mayonnaise.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and vinegar, and quickly fold into the batter. Don’t over-mix. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.
- Bake the first two layers in the center of the oven until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs, 20 to25 minutes. Repeat with the final layer. Let the cake layers cool in their pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the sides of the cakes and carefully turn them out onto wire racks. Peel off the papers and let cool completely.
- The cake layers will keep wrapped tightly in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days.