Hamburger Cake

Make your next gathering extra-cute with this fun Hamburger Cake! Layers of French savarin cake are stacked with ganache-glazed chocolate cakes for a cheeseburger lookalike.

Hamburger Cake

It’s been a while since I’ve made a fun cake, and since it’s still cookout season I decided to make a hamburger cake. I wanted it to be truly delicious, and something that doesn’t require a lot of frosting or complicated decorating. The ‘bun’ needed to look naturally hamburger bun-shaped straight from the pan. However, unfrosted cakes dry out quickly. So I really had to put my thinking cap on. I found the answer in a classic pastries book. The French savarin cake – which is yeast-risen, syrup soaked delicacy. And something with yeast in it makes sense for a ‘burger bun’ cake, right? The citrusy simple syrup keeps it tender and moist.

Hamburger Cake

A classic French cake.

It’s true that anything described as ‘French’ in baking or pastry could also be described as complex. But this savarin cake is not hard to make. Because it has a little yeast in the batter, it must rise for about an hour. Then you’ll bake it to golden brown. After the cake is done, drench the cakes with citrusy simple syrup right in their pans.

Speaking of pans, you’ll need an 8-inch half ball pan for the top burger bun. And an 8×3 inch round cake pan (or two 8×2 inch cake pans).

Faux finishing.

Next, work on the ‘hamburger patties’. This is a simple one bowl chocolate cake recipe that makes two 8-inch rounds. Glaze them with a simple ganache with chopped almonds mixed in. This is a delicious combination and the end result looks bumpy like a fried meat patty. Make room in your refrigerator, because these layers need to set up before you layer up the cakes.

Double decker with cheese.

Cut the round 8-inch cake into two layers. Use one for the bottom ‘bun’ layer. Then add a ‘hamburger patty’ layer on top.

Continue to build the cake, adding slices of fondant ‘cheese’ buttercream ‘lettuce’ and some fondant tomato slices. Now, I know I’m not fooling anyone with that ‘lettuce’, but it makes the cake really cute and almost cartoon-y! Use a large rose petal tip (#128) with the small end pointed toward the edge of the cake. Then pipe an undulating ribbon of buttercream around the top edge.

Hamburger Cake

Add on more layers of savarin, chocolate cake, more buttercream, and some fondant ‘tomatoes’. If you absolutely can’t abide fondant on your cake, then use tinted marzipan or modeling chocolate.

Place the bowl-shaped savarin on top and dowel all the layers together with a 12″ skewer. Add some red gift tissue with tape on top and you’ll have an extra-large fancy-looking ‘toothpick’.

Hamburger Cake

Toss on some toasted sesame seeds for a cute finishing touch. They stick naturally because of the savarin syrup. The only thing left to do is slice and enjoy. Wouldn’t this be a fun birthday cake? Just add candles!

Related recipe: Triple Stack Donut Cake

Hamburger Cake

Heather Baird
Order up! This hamburger party cake is fun to make and doesn’t require lots of frosting or intensive decorating. However, it is a lengthy recipe. Spread the work out over the course of two days. Bake and glaze all of the cake layers on the first day. Make the buttercream and fondant decors, then assemble it on the second day. Also, add a dozen eggs to your grocery list. Savarin is an egg-heavy cake, so you'll need 12 large eggs for just the savarin layers.
Make room in your refrigerator for all of the cake layers. They’ll be sturdier for assembly when chilled. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving
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Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 40 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 20 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24

Equipment

  • 8 inch round half ball cake pan for savarin cake
  • 8×3 inch round cake pan (two 8×2 inch pans) for savarin cake
  • 8×2 inch cake pans (2) for chocolate cake layers
  • Large rose petal decorator piping tip #128
  • Disposable rubber gloves

Ingredients
 
 

Savarin cakes (Hamburger bun)

  • Flour-based baking spray for pans
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 12 large eggs
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature

Savarin syrup

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur or orange juice

Chocolate cakes (meat patties)

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweet dark cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil I like sunflower seed oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot water or hot coffee

Chocolate ganache glaze

  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon clear corn syrup for shiny finish
  • 1 cup whole almonds coarsely chopped

Garnishes (lettuce, tomato, cheese)

  • 3 oz. red fondant ready made
  • 3 oz. white fondant ready made
  • Orange gel food color
  • Neon yellow gel food color
  • 1 1/2 cups American buttercream
  • Neon green gel food color
  • 2-3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Instructions
 

Savarin cakes

  • Mix the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the milk, eggs, and zest. Beat until a thick batter forms, about 5 minutes.
  • With the mixer running, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until the batter is smooth.
  • Coat an 8 inch half ball cake pan with flour-based baking spray. Also coat one 8×3 inch round cake pan (or two 8×2 inch pans). Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until the cake is puffed to fill the pan about 2/3 full, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how warm your kitchen is.
  • Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350°F. When the cakes are raised, bake them until well set and golden brown. About 40 minutes for the 8×3 inch pan, and 50 minutes for the ball pan. Rest the cakes in the pans while you prepare the syrup.

Savarin syrup

  • In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
  • Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove and pour in the orange liqueur or orange juice. Remove to cool slightly.
  • Turn the savarin cakes out of their pans onto a wire cooling rack. Level the cakes with a serrated knife if they have crowned. Place 1 cup of syrup into each of the pans and return the cakes to the pans. Let stand 5 minutes. Pour the remaining syrup over each cake. Cover and let rest until the syrup has absorbed. Cover the cake pans and refrigerate overnight.

Chocolate cakes (meat patties)

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat two 8-inch cake pans with flour-based baking spray and lined the bottoms with parchment rounds (or grease and flour and line).
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk well to combine. Add the eggs milk, oil, and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in the hot water or coffee. Mix well; batter will be thin. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, and then turn them out to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate ganache glaze

  • Place the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat the mixture in the microwave for 1 minute at 100% power. Let the mixture stand for 1 minute. Use a whisk to stir the two ingredients together until a thick consistent chocolate ganache forms. Stir in the corn syrup. Fold in the almonds with a rubber spatula.
  • Place the chocolate cakes on the wire rack over a large baking sheet. Pour the glaze over the cakes, allowing the chocolate ganache to spill over the sides of the cake. Use an offset spatula to place chocolate in bare spots. Refrigerate the cakes on the rack until the ganache is set, about 1 hour.

Assemble and decorate

  • Knead the red fondant well on a lightly confectioners’ sugar-dusted work surface. Roll into a ball and cut into 6 wedges. Flatten wedges to half-moon shapes; transfer to a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
  • Knead the white fondant well on a lightly confectioners’ sugar dusted work surface. Add a drop of orange food color and two drops of the yellow food color on the fondant. With gloved hands, knead the color into the fondant. Add more food color as needed to achieve the hue of sliced American cheese. Roll the fondant flat to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into two 4-inch squares. Cut each square in half to create two triangle shaped pieces of ‘cheese”. You should have a total of four ‘cheese’ triangles. Transfer to a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside.
  • Mix the buttercream frosting as directed in the linked recipe. Tint the buttercream with neon green food color to create a bright green hue. Transfer to a disposable piping bag fitted with the large petal tip. Set aside.
  • Carefully cut (torte) the 8-inch round savarin cake horizontally in two. Do this while the cake is chilled so the cake is firm and holds together well. These two pieces will be the bottom and middle buns. Place one piece on an 8-inch cake board. Run a small sharp knife around the bottom edges of the chocolate glazed cakes. Lift one from the wire rack and onto the first layer of savarin. Place two ‘cheese’ triangles overhanging the edges of the chocolate cake to the front and back of the cake. Pipe a thick undulating ribbon of green buttercream around the top edge of the chocolate cake and over the ‘cheese’. Do this with the small end of the piping tip pointed toward you, with the large open end pointing toward the middle of the cake. Top the chocolate cake ‘meat patty’ with the second savarin round.
  • Place the remaining two cheese slices to the left and right side of the chocolate cake, overhanging the edges as before. Pipe two rows of ‘lettuce around the top edge of the cake. Place ‘tomato’ wedges well-spaced, over the lettuce.
  • Finally, place the dome savarin on top. Sprinkle on toasted sesame seeds. Dowell the cake all the way through the top middle down to the bottom with the 12” skewer.
  • Refrigerate the cake until about one hour before serving. Bring to room temperature or serve slightly chilled.

Notes

The corn syrup in the chocolate ganache gives it a shine. It can be optional, but it’s such a small amount I’d recommend using it for the best effect.
If you’re not a fan of fondant, ready-made marzipan or modeling chocolate will work in its place. 
Sesame seeds can be purchased pre-toasted, or you can toast them in a saucepan over medium heat for about 3 minutes until golden brown.
 
Keyword american buttercream, bbq cake, dark chocolate cake layers, hamburger cake, savarin pan, savarin syrup, summer cake, white chocolate ganache
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