baking and decorating a three tier cake at home

Referring to this birthday cake I made for Alok last year (May 2012) as a surprise ...

eggless cake for my husband's birthday
A reader recently asked me:  "may i know the cake which u made for your husband is that homemade if yes may i know the recipe an was it a one day job?"

And last year my cousin had asked me:  "how did you make it" - to which I promised her a start-to-finish pictorial.

And one of my closest buddies, upon seeing the 65 people "like" the photo of the three-tier cake and 25 people leaving comments with tons of compliments on my personal Facebook profile last year, had asked me:

"what was the big deal about the cake that everyone is praising so much?  you just made three cakes and put on top of one another!"

First, for the reader -

1.  Yes, it was a homemade cake.  All the three layers of the cake, the sweetened whipped cream icing, the natural coloring - everything was homemade.
2.  I tried two recipes that day.  One was my trusted eggless chocolate cake recipe (excluding the nuts) and another one that turned out average.
3.  It was not a one day job.  It was a whole two day job for me mainly because I did not have all the tools and resources that are required for baking and decorating.

Second, for the cousin and my mean buddy - here is the pictorial and details on how I made this eggless cake at home from the start to finish.

And third, for my readers - brace yourselves for a lengthy (but hopefully helpful) post.

a) Whipping the cake batter                                                                                                         

- I did not have a digital kitchen scale to weigh ingredients, so I used my plastic measuring cups and spoons.
- I did not have a hand beater or a KitchenAid stand mixer, so I used the good ol' balloon whip to prepare the batter as well as the frosting.
preparing the chocolate cake batter

b) Baking the cake

- I did not have proper cake pans in different sizes; just one 9" pan for bottom layer.  So I baked the other two layers in the Pyrex glass bowls (absolutely love 'em for baking, serving, storing, and freezing).

- I did not have a cooling rack, so once the cakes were baked I let the oven rack cool off, then used the oven rack as cooling rack.

- I did not have cake slicer, so I used the regular kitchen knife to slice the cake - hence the uneven layers.
cooling the cake - using oven rack in place of cooling rack

c) Base for the cake                                

- I did not have a cake board, so remembering the previous cake board idea from Feb 2012, I made this cake board at home again with a more sturdy cardboard this time to be able to support the heavy three tier cake.
making cake board using cardboard and aluminum foil
d) Cake filling                                                                                                                                      

- Instead of three plain chocolate cakes, I wanted to add layers in each with a vanilla cream filling.  I did not have readymade whipped cream, so I whipped the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks and used it to fill and frost the cake.

- I did not have an angled spatula to spread the frosting properly.  So I used the white spatula (got it with my Cuisinart food processor) and the black plastic disposable butter knife to spread the icing inside and out.
frosting the layers of cake

e) Cake layering and frosting                  

- I supported the three-tier cake by inserting regular sized but stiff straws in a triangle form in the center of the cake (probably got those straws from some juice shop).

- Using the plastic butter knife I tried to make as good and clean crumb coat as I could.  Crumb coat is the first layer of icing on the cake, after which you place it in the refrigerator for half an hour until it sets, so that the final coat can be neatly done without any visible cake crumbs or air bubbles in the icing.
assembling the layered cake supported with straws in the center
f) Cake decorating                                                                                                                             

- I did not have any piping bags and nozzles (tips).  So I used my usual method of making a cone out of Ziploc plastic bag (the same as making a henna cone for applying mehendi), filled it with icing, snipped out a little, and did the cake decoration.

- I did not have any edible food colors or icing colors (because Alok thought the artificial food colors were not healthy and would not allow me to buy!), so using part of the prepared frosting I mixed saffron for the yellow color, and cocoa powder for the brown color.
decorating the cake with colored icing (without artificial food colors)
g) Last touches                                                                                                                                   

- Just the yellow and brown colors on cake looked a little too plain, so I mixed some strawberry puree with the frosting and just poured the pink color all around one layer to add some color.  Then added a little flower with yellow on top tier.

- I had not searched for cake designs beforehand and had limited time, so I ended up doing random crisscrosses, hearts, dots, and so on.  On the middle layer if you notice carefully, you will see NANANANA - those are Nisha's and Alok's initials.  See, this is what my limited creativity could come up with as an icing art for a birthday cake.*facepalm*

simple decoration on birthday cake

Final result:  This was the homemade three-tier eggless chocolate cake that I surprised my husband with on his birthday.  Not only him, even I could not believe I could actually bake and decorate a cake such as this one despite being an amateur and with limited tools - surprisingly it turned out better than what I had planned.

birthday cake | baking and decorating  a cake at home
homemade three tier eggless chocolate cake with vanilla icing
And now, here is my main purpose behind this post - if you are apprehensive about baking and decorating a cake at home because you do not have all the materials: DON'T BE!

Because if I can make this three tier cake at home with the most minimal gadgets and resources - YOU DEFINITELY CAN TOO!
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  1. How to make whipped cream at home?

    1. Whip 1 cup cold heavy cream until soft peaks, then add 2 Tbsp powdered sugar + few drops of vanilla extract and whip until just about stiff peaks. Avoid over-whipping :)

  2. Lovely ! Great Effort Nisha :) Hats off!

  3. Great efforts and awesome work, worth baking and decorating na..beautiful job.

  4. Super dear !! perfectly made !! Looks so wonderful !!

  5. absolutely mind blowing! i always wondered how to assemble them.. will try this soon n will ping you with loads of questions :)

  6. Thats a commendable job Nisha! And love the use of natural colors for the piping! Bravo!!

  7. Hi Nisha,
    How on earth do you know that I also did not have exact those tools? :) I made a cake before ten days on my husband's birthday doing the same juggaad! No egg, no oven, no electric whisk, no cake slicer, no food colors, no whipped cream, no baking pans! Even my two batches of fresh cream icing turned into butter due to over use of balloon whisk :P But the biggest compliment I received was that he did not know till the end that the cake was home-made! :)
    I could totally relate to your post. And love all of them. keep up with the good work. All the best. Your blog rocks! ;)

  8. Really amazing job on this.. I'm impressed by the use of cocoa powder and turmeric powder in place of colors. Brilliantly done!

  9. Great job!! And true that if one waits for everything to be perfect before attempting anything,it might never happen.

  10. how to make whipped cream at is made from malai or something else plz give proper idea in hindi plz..

  11. Hi Nisha,
    Great efforts...Hats off for your patience..I have one question..How do you bake in pyrex glass bowl?I mean the baking time and temperature.Could you please share a recipe of cake in pyrex bowl?And also could you please do a post on baking basics for beginners?I have tried baking a couple of times.But it didn't come perfect.I bake in a 9inch square pan.But we are only two members in the house and it is too much for us.Could you suggest a baking pan for baking small cakes?Thank you.


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