Cherry Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Four tiers of vanilla cake filled with dark chocolate ganache, tart cherry pie filling, and crème pâtissière, iced in cherry buttercream and glazed with a chocolate miroir. Pastry is my language of love, and this over-the-top cake is a love letter to my Valentine.
I express my love through food. I’ve made countless wedding cakes in lieu of speeches at families’ and friends’ weddings (including my own) because I believe that baking is louder than words. Personally, I do not enjoy being romanced on Valentine’s Day. My mom always said: “You should express your love every day, and not just because Hallmark says so”. After I conveyed these feelings to Stu, we agreed never to make a fuss about it… but every year he would always be disappointed when I didn’t do something extra special for him. Almost two decades into our courtship, I now know better; his mouth says no but his stomach says yes!
This year, I wanted to pull inspiration from our wedding cakes and make Stu a raspberry-chocolate cake (a classic pairing). I love how the tart, fragrant raspberries balance the unctuous dark chocolate. In the summer, the whole family picks berries to stock the freezer with jars containing jam, fresh fruit, and summer memories. This is my winning strategy for eating local fruits all year long (my life hack for cheating the seasons!) As I was preparing my buttercream, I reached for my recently thawed berries only to discover that I had actually grabbed un-pitted, sour cherries from who-knows-when. However, ten minutes later, I had frozen fingers, pitted cherries, and a new idea. Luckily, Stu adores cherry desserts, so I formulated a new plan to woo him.
The components for this cake feature six fundamental techniques and recipes (linked below). Visually, I love the proportions of a 6”, four-layer cake. Depending on the diameter of the cake that you choose to build, the recipes below will yield varying leftovers, which can either be frozen for future treats or used in other yummy concoctions. Luckily, most of them can be slightly modified to vary the flavour, allowing you to use what you may or may not have in the freezer. I like to make each one “in my spare time” over a period of two or three days. When the special day finally arrives, only assembly is required.
Recipes & instructions:
Make the Best Vanilla Cake recipe.
*Can be made weeks ahead is tightly wrapped and stored in the freezer.
Dark Chocolate Ganache
Make the Dark Chocolate Ganache recipe.
You will need about 250g for a 6-inch layer.
Since it is being used as a filling for a layer cake I like to make it ahead and let it set in a perfect disc shape.
Find a cake mould (or pie, container, etc.) that is slightly smaller than the diameter of cake you want to make (you want your chocolate ganache filling to be slightly smaller than your cake so it doesn’t spill out).
Line in with a plastic film, leaving a generous overhang of plastic wrap.
Pour your chocolate ganache filling into the lined mould and loosely cover the top.
Let it set in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
*Can be made up two weeks ahead.
Vanilla Pastry Cream
You will need approximately 300g for a 6-inch layer.
*Can be made several days ahead, if kept in a sealed container.
Take half, put in an airtight container, label with contents and date and store in the freezer for up to six months.
With the remaining half in the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add about 300g of pitted (fresh or thawed) sour cherries.
Place in a piping bag.
*Can be kept at room temperature for several days.
Cherry cake filling
Dark Chocolate Miroir
Cover it with plastic wrap, so that the film is touching the glaze. Poke your thermometer through it and use it to glaze your cake when it is approximately 25°C.
*Can be made a week ahead of time and left in the fridge (or stored in the freezer for up to 6 months)
Congratulations!! You’ve made six fundamental pastry recipes and are ready to build your over-the-top cake! This step is called: Montage
**If you would like to see how I do my cake montage, check out my Instagram reel or TikTok This might be particularly helpful if you’re more of a visual person or if this is your first layered cake build. **
Take your sheet of cake and once completely cool, flip it over and peel off the parchment paper.
Using a 6-inch cake mould (or anything round), as a guide, cut four discs of cake. (It’s OK if one disc is actually two halves- it will be a middle layer and no one will ever know!)
On a plate or cake stand place the first disc of cake, pipe a ring of buttercream along the outside edge and place your chocolate ganache in the middle.
Add the second disc of cake on top and gently, but firmly press down making sure it is level.
Pipe a ring of buttercream along the outside edge and fill the centre with your cherry pie filling.
Place the third disc of cake on top and gently, but firmly press down making sure it is level.
Pipe a ring of buttercream along the outside edge and fill the centre with your pastry cream.
Layer the fourth disk of cake on top and gently, but firmly press down making sure it is level.
Place remaining cherry buttercream around the side and on top making it as smooth as possible.
Careful not to put it on too thick so that the mirror glaze adheres to it properly.
Let the cake set in the fridge for at least 2 hours before pouring the chocolate glaze.
Place cake on a cooling rack, with a tray underneath (to catch the extra glaze)
With the chocolate glaze at 25°C, pour a ladle on top, in the centre of the cake. Pour a second ladle along the top edge in a slow circular motion.
You might have to repeat this a second time if you want to cover all the sides. It is just as beautiful however to let the glaze drip along the top with the cherry buttercream layer visible underneath.
Place it in the fridge to set.
Decorate the top with fresh cherries or flowers and be ready to wow your Valentine!