Happy almost Valentine’s day everyone!
This year Valentine’s day is a little bit more special. While our celebration will be modest, this is our 10th valentine’s day together and that gives me all the warm fuzzies. There are a lot of negative things in this world, warm fuzzies ain’t one of them. Neither are raspberry and strawberry buttercream roses…. just saying.
Speaking of buttercream roses, let’s get to the cake. I have a lot to say about it and it is my goal that reading this post will take you less time then I spent making it ( 5 *cough* weeks). Onward!
To help cover the cost of buying gallons of honey to test one recipe, and other things only money can buy, this post includes affiliate links. Purches through said links cost nothing extra but I earn a small commission.
While I am very glad about no longer needing to eat gluten-free, this blog has felt a little lost without all its original gluten-free goodness. So, I decided to get back to my roots and make this cake gluten-free. I reached past all the super processed cornstarch and xantham gums (as has always been the case for gluten-free recipes here) and used natural cassava flour. Anthony’s brand is batch tested gluten-free. While cassava flour has its limitations I like that it is minimally processed and it works really well when paired with cocoa powder to make cakes.
This is one of the easiest cakes ever as it can be made all in one bowl, and you would not guess it was gluten-free, refined sugar-free, or able to go into the oven in just a few minutes. Considering the icing and decorating part of this is a little bit more involved that helps give variety and make the world go round (gravitational pull has nothing on this cake).
I forgot to get any pictures of just the cake so before we move to frosting here is a slightly-on-topic transitional photo of Natalia using extra roses from testing.
Aww… she’s cuter than chocolate cake anyway.
I was determined to make a refined sugar free frosting. While I don’t think there is anything wrong with occasionally using white sugar if I can use a more whole-food friendly food I try to. I have definitely made quite a few batches of swiss meringue buttercream (this one is Italian) with unbleached sugar, and probably will again, but plan to do this as my go to now that I figured it out.
The ingredients are eggs, honey, and butter for the base frosting then freeze-dried fruit and a few drops of vegetable colorants (different than dyes as they are food based and natural) to flavor and color the frosting for this cake.
I love meringue frostings because they are not nearly as sweet as powdered sugar frostings and because the texture is so silky and smooth. The honey doesn’t lend a lot of additional flavor vs white sugar but it definitely has more flavor, and I like that in and of itself. Something else I did differently this time was used grass-fed butter (my preference anyway). That also gave an already flavorful frosting just an extra depth you simply do not get from white and one-dimensional conventional butter. All in all, it has so much more flavor than sweet, which is where I feel a lot of frostings fall short, so it has become my favorite frosting.
Note: you can’t lick this spoon.
How to Make a Heart Rose Cake
You will need:
- An 8″ square cake and 8″ round cake (Recipe at base of post); leveled
- Strawberry, raspberry, and green frostings (recipes at base of the post)
- A Wilton’s #104 pedal tip
- A Wilton’s #66 leaf tip (or a similar small leaf tip)
- A Wilton’s #18 star tip (or a similar size star tip)
- An off-set spatula
- 2-4 Icing bags
- 1-3 couplers (it makes it so much easier)
- A serving platter that is at least 12″ square. I used a 12″ one and needed to trim the cake a touch to fit
- Parchment paper cut int0 3″ squares
- Wine glass or flower nail (for piping roses)
Making the heart:
To make the cake in a heart shape cut the round cake into to half circles. Set them along adjacent sides of the square. If your square pan is just under 8″ it may be necessary to trim the round cake a tiny bit to fit. Use a little of the strawberry icing to secure the square cake to the serving board and to ice the seams between the half circles and the square cake. Very sparingly use the strawberry icing to crumb coat then chill. After that sets up ice the sides with the strawberry icing trying to make it as neat as possible as the flowers won’t be on the sides.
Making the flowers:
There is a video at the end of the post but I will also give basic instructions here. You can fill the bags as pictured above, one raspberry, one strawberry, one half and half, and one green or if you don’t have couplers you can put green in one bag fit with the leaf tip and another bag filled with the strawberry frosting and the 104 tip then once you are almost done with the strawberry buttercream you can fill it again with the raspberry and you will get some medium pink roses that way. That is messier, but you use fewer bags and no couplers.
Just be sure you save ~1 cup of the raspberry frosting to assemble the cake.
See the end of this post for a video on me piping these but here is the basic rundown:
- Use the Wilton #104 tip to make the flowers.
- Secure a piece of parchment paper the bottom of a wine glass or to a flower nail (I prefer using a glass)
- Photo 1: The center is made by making a wave. This differs from most tutorials but I like the look.
- Photo 2: After that pipe three petals around the center. Cover most of the center by starting to pope at the base of the flower then coming over the center a little and then back down.
- Photo 3: Five petals around the rose.
- Photo 4: With the narrow edge of the tip facing away from the center pipe three large petals. This one I shake the bag up and down to get a rippled effect.
- Photo 5: I filled in a bare spot by piping another petal between the 5 petals round and the 3 petals round. Usually, this is not necessary. This is a medium size flower.
- Photo 6: To make some of the flowers large I pipe a single rippled petal around the entire flower.
- Not pictured: To make a small flower instead of piping the first 3 petals round pipe all the way around the center and then go straight to 5 petals. End after the three large rippled petals.
Pipe roses in the small, medium, and the large manner in fully strawberry, part strawberry and part raspberry, and fully raspberry frostings. Sprinkle raspberry powder (reserved in the frosting recipe) to make a few of the raspberry roses even darker. After piping each one transfer to a sheet tray and then freeze. I usually have to freeze in batches because of freezer space. They only take about 10 minutes to get hard enough to handle. Once frozen they can be stacked (still on the parchment squares) as long as you are gentle. I ended up using 30 roses.
Assembling the cake:
Peel flowers off of the parchment and place around on the top of the cake being sure to vary the positions of the different size and different color flowers. You might have to shave off some of the flowers with a knife to get them to fit. Don’t worry about a tight fit, you will fix that with the green frosting and with the reserved raspberry frosting. I don’t ice the flowers to the cake because once you fill in all the empty spaces between the roses they are basically iced down anyway. That way I can rearrange the flowers (a little) which is nice.
Finishing the cake:
Once the flowers are added to the cake, it is time to fill in any bare spots. You do this with the rest of the raspberry frosting set with the #18 star tip and the green frosting with a #66 tip. Go around the edges of the cake and make leaves (lightly squeeze out the icing then pull the bag away from the cake) and starlets (put the tip near the cake and gently squeeze. Stop squeezing and then lift) to fill in the gap between roses and the cake. I went down the edges a little bit to blend things in a bit but mostly kept the sides smoothly iced. After that pipe leaves and stars between the roses to fill in the cake.
I lightly dusted the entire cake with the last tiny bit of raspberry powder just because my philosophy is the more raspberry the better, but that is optional.
Then all you need to do is enjoy! This cake is best stored in the fridge because buttercream can get soft at room temperature. I leave cakes like this uncovered until they are cut into then cover well to prevent them drying out.
- 1⅓ cup natural non-alkalized cocoa powder (I liked the stuff from trader joes)
- 1⅓ cup cassava flour (I used Anthony's brand)
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- 1½ tsp baking powder (use this kind to keep this grain free)
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1½ cup honey
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup salted butter, melted but cool
- 2 TBSP vanilla
- ⅔ cup milk
- softened butter (for buttering pans)
- additional cocoa powder (for dusting the pans)
- 1 Batch honey buttercream frosting flavored and dyed as instructed in the following icing recipe.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8" square pan and an 8" circle pan. Use a sifter to sift cocoa into the pans relatively evenly. Tilt to coat all sides then tap the excess out with the pan upside down. Don't skip the dusting as it helps the cake rise.
- Sift together the dry ingredients (cocoa, cassava flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt) into a large bowl.
- Crack the eggs into the bowl and add the rest of the wet ingredients. Stir until everything is well combined.
- Divide the batter between the pans to be roughly even height (the square pan will get a little more).
- Bake the cakes for ~40 minutes for the round cake pan and ~45 for the square pan. Until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out with only a few crumbs. This is a good time to make the icing recipe.
- Take out and remove. Let cool. Remove from pans. Decorating instructions are in the post.
- 1½ cup honey
- 9 large egg whites (be careful to get no yolk), room temperature
- 1 lb + 4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature and soft
- ~1-1.2 oz pack freeze-dried raspberries (I get mine at Target, but this brand is also good)
- ~1 - 1.2 oz pack freeze-dried strawberries (I get mine at Aldi, but this brand is also good)
- India tree natural dyes, blue and yellow
- 1 tsp additional butter, room temperature and soft
- Note: the first few steps of this happen quickly so keep a close eye. Read the recipe all the way through before making.
- Put the eggs in a stand mixer bowl and attach the whisk attachment.
- Put the honey in a medium-sized pan outfitted with a candy thermometer (I use this kind). Turn to medium-high. Boil until it reaches 238 degrees. It takes less than 5 minutes.
- As soon as you get the honey is started whip the eggs until stiff peaks *just* form. I turn it off as soon as the whisk leaves traces in the eggs to check. Medium peaks work too as long as they are closer to stiff. Just make sure they don't get dry and clumpy as that is too far and won't work. I find it takes 1 to 1 1/e minutes. Turn off the stand mixer and wait for the honey to finish.
- When the honey reaches 238 remove from heat. Turn the stand mixer on to
medium lowspeed and once the egg starts to move pour in the hot honey. Aim for between the whisk and bowl. As soon as all the honey is in slowly the speed up to the highest setting. The frosting will balloon up and look like it can't possibly be contained. Fear not it will settle down once the butter starts being whisked in.
- Whisk until the meringue is nice and airy and holds
it's shapeas the whisk cuts through it plus the sides of the bowl are cool-lukewarm. This can take between 7 and 15 minutes because of variables I don't understand.
- Add the butter a little at a time (~2 tablespoons waiting about ~10 seconds before adding the next dab)
- Buttercream meringue goes through a few stages:
- Wait, why did this fluffy meringue turn liquid?
- Oh no! It curdled! (fear not keep going. This is where a lot of people think they failed)
- Oh wow! All of a sudden this is a silky creamy beautiful frosting.
- Sometimes this happens as you add the butter, sometimes afterward. Sometimes a good 10 minutes afterward (that is rare though). Just keep whisking. I have never had meringue buttercream not come together if given enough whisking.
- Once it has reached frosting status, stop whisking and remove ~1/3 of the frosting.
- This frosting does best with a dry part added and freeze-dried fruit adds amazing flavor, color, and stability. I left this cake out overnight and the buttercream still stood at attention thanks to the freeze-dried fruit.
- Using a coffee grinder or small food processor blend the freeze-dried strawberries into a powder. Sift into the buttercream to catch and unprocessed bits. Blend the strawberry powder into the frosting.
- Remove all but ~1/2 cup of the frosting and set aside. To the ½ cup frosting in the mixer add ~1/4 tsp each of the blue and yellow colorants. Whisk in. Adjust the color by adding small drops of blue and green until the desired color is reached. If it looks a little soft from the added glycerin whisk in the 1 tsp additional butter. Put the green frosting in an icing bag outfitted with a #66 Wilton leaf tip.
- Wipe the bowl of the stand mixer clean from the green frosting.
- Add the reserved ⅓ of the frosting to the mixer.
- In the coffee grinder grind the raspberries until they are powdered. Sift the powder into the frosting to remove seeds and any unblended parts. Reserve just a tiny bit to sift onto a few individual roses. Whisk to combine well.
- See post for decorating instructions.