The days leading up to Valentine’s Day are some of the busiest for Anna at Bea’s Bakery in Mystic Water. The sugar-sweet air in the bakery swirls out the door, enticing people from blocks away. They’ll stop mid-sentence and follow the scent of baked goods.
The glass cases in the bakery are packed with fudgy brownies that warm your heart, sugar cookies that make you feel like a child again, and cupcakes decorated with hearts and glittery sugar and swirls of delicious buttercream.
Townsfolk are eager to see what new creations Anna will come up with each year, and they never leave the bakery disappointed. Their bags and boxes are packed full of traditional favorites as well as her new love-filled treats. This year, Anna created a Love Letter Tuxedo Cake.
After one bite of the Love Letter cake, you’ll remember the first letter you received from your first love, and you’ll smile. After one half of a piece, you’ll recall the box of letters you’ve been saving for years just so you can go back and remember when you were in love. Eat an entire piece of cake, and you’ll stop by the stationary store and write that letter you’ve been meaning to send for years. Go ahead and eat the whole cake. I dare you.
Love Letter Tuxedo Cake
Yields: one 8-inch triple layer cake
Level of Difficulty: Above average and a lot of patience
3 oz fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 ½ c hot water
3 tsp espresso powder
2 ½ c all-purpose flour
3 c sugar
1 ½ c unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs at room temperature
3/4 c vegetable oil
1 ½ c fat sour cream
3/4 tsp vanilla
White vanilla buttercream and décor
1 ½ c unsalted butter, softened
9 c confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Milk or heavy cream to thin
Red food color, optional
3 sheets larger wafer paper stamped with script motif
4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
½ c heavy cream
¼ c corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
How to Make
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Grease three 8-inch round pans with shortening.
Heat 1 ½ cups of water until boiling hot. Add 3 teaspoons of espresso powder and stir.
Finely chop chocolate and combine it in a bowl with hot espresso. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.
In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (approximately 3 minutes with a stand mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer).
Add oil, sour cream, vanilla, to eggs. Slowly add in espresso, beating until combined well.
Add flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Divide batter between 3 pans and bake in middle of oven until cake springs back when pressed in the center, approximately 40–45 minutes.
Cool layers in pans for 15 minutes on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto wire racks. Cool layers completely. Level if needed.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream the butter well and then add the confectioners’ sugar.
Beat on low speed until crumbly, scraping down the sides. Add milk or cream a little at a time until the mixture is no longer crumbly and begins to come together.
Increase speed to high and beat for 3 minutes.
Add vanilla extract and beat again for another minute. If you find the buttercream is too stiff, you may add milk or heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is spreading consistency. If it’s too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar.
Remove 1 1/3 cups of frosting and place in a separate bowl. Tint the frosting with red food color and fill each layer with 2/3 cup of frosting.
Frost the outside of the cake with the remaining white frosting. Make the edges of the cake as even as possible so the wafer paper will adhere smoothly.
Measure the height of the cake, and cut the stamped wafer paper to size. Place the paper pieces onto the cake side-by-side without overlapping, and press them into the frosting. The frosting must be fresh in order for the paper to stick. If the paper doesn't adhere, apply a fresh coat of frosting. Smooth the edges of the paper into the buttercream so they do not peel away from the cake or pucker. Allow the cake to stand at least 30 minutes before applying the glaze.
Combine chocolate and heavy cream in a small saucepan, and heat over medium-high until the milk begins to bubble.
Remove from heat, and let stand 2–3 minutes; whisk until chocolate and cream are smooth and combined.
Add corn syrup and vanilla. Whisk again until smooth.
Place mixture in the refrigerator for 8–10 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Pour over top of cake, and allow it to overflow and run down the sides of the stamped wafer paper.
Store the cake covered at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from Sprinkle Bakes. For a step-by-step guide for how to stamp the wafer paper, please check out her post. She's fantastic!
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