If you're on Pinterest you've probably seen the Heart Cake. It's a white four-layer cake with a red heart baked into the center originally found here. I've never been crazy about Valentine's Day. I'm not a girly-girl, I don't care too much for pink or hearts, and yet - there's something about this holiday that makes me want to get my crafty on. In fact, I have a whole Pinterest board called "Crafty Valentine." Why all the Pinterest talk? Well, because I'm addicted. And until this blog, it was a problem. Now, it's research.
Anyway, thank goodness for Pinterest and thank goodness for Valentine's Day because without the two I wouldn't have spent my weekend making this.
I'm here to tell you that if you want to make something impressive for your loved one this 14th, this cake is an excellent contender. I won't lie and say it's easy, or that it's not a daunting task, but if you plan ahead it's definitely doable. And YUMMY. Just don't eat the whole thing yourself. Especially if you end up with a cake 6 inches tall because you're obsessed with the notion that a single cake recipe won't be enough.
This cake project requires 5 baked cakes in total so plan accordingly. It's a good thing Valentine's Day doesn't come in the summer, since I heated the kitchen way up. I used different recipes from those included in the original post. I was convinced that I wouldn't have enough white cake for four layers from a single recipe so I made a full plus a half of the 1-2-3-4 Cake from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters. Hence the super tall cake. The center of the cake is, of course, red velvet and I used this awesome recipe along with their recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting.
I found it easy to make this over the weekend and broke the days out like this:
Wed & Thursday: Stress out about how complicated the cake looks and what if it turns out like crap? And I'm gonna have to write about it where the whole world can read it? And see the photos? And I don't even have 8-inch cake pans! (Which gave me a reason to finally buy the pans I've been wanting and needing forever AND making a trip to ABC Cake Decorating which is ALWAYS awesome.
Friday: Buy ingredients. Buy cake flour - don't try to use all-purpose. I like King Arthur's brand cause it's unbleached and I can pronounce all of the ingredients effortlessly. Not all cake flours are created alike.
Saturday: Make cakes! This isn't as crazy as it may seem. The white cakes come from a single recipe, so you're really only mixing things twice. Plus the frosting. I only had two 8 inch round pans so I baked them in two batches. It was fine. I used a plain 9x13 for the red velvet.
Sunday: Make the frosting and assemble/carve/photograph and EAT CAKE! You of course, should NOT eat this on Sunday, but save it for the big day next week.
Another tip: Definitely freeze the cakes before carving. It makes it so much easier to handle them. The original post suggests this. Also, it's ok if your cake isn't perfect. It's also ok if your heart looks more like a cat's head from certain angles. It's about the process, not the product. Or so I tell myself.
So there you have it. Valentine's Day Heart Cake. I hope you try it. And if you do, don't forget to add your best photo to your Pinterest board! Also, if you see something on Pinterest you dare not try, but want to see it in REAL LIFE, please let me know! Leave me a note in the comments section.
The full tutorial for the Heart Cake is here.
Here follows the white cake recipe I used. Adapted from 1-2-3-4 Cake by Alice Waters from The Art of Simple Food
Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter the cake pans and line the bottom of each with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.
Separate: 6 eggs
Measure: 1 1/2 cups milk
Sift and then measure: 4 1/2 cups cake flour
Stir in: 6 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt (1/2 if using salted butter)
In another bowl, beat until light and fluffy: 3 sticks softened butter
Add: 3 cups sugar
Cream until light and fluffy. Beat in the 6 egg yolks, one at a time, and: 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla.
When well mixed add the flour mixture and milk alternately, starting and ending with one third of the flour. Stir just until the flour is incorporated. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Stir one third of the egg whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.