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Black Succulent Cake

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I recently bought food grade raw activated charcoal to use for cakes. And, I wanted to showcase how awesome it works! So I thought why not make a Black Succulent Cake. I just love the contrasting colors of the black cake and lavender and green succulents. I am going to show you how to pipe buttercream succulent plants in four different varieties. They are pretty easy once you get the hang of it! I used ColorKitchen food dyes to make the greens, lavender and dark turquoise. They are plant based colors and made without the use of artificial dyes and they're the only food dyes we use at the bakery. The cake is a simple white and fluffy cake with a subtle almond buttercream frosting. We also added this cake to the menu so you can order it with any color succulents you want! They would be amazing with green and hot pink or blues and greens too. Find the recipe and tutorial below for this Black Succulent Cake.

Black Succulent Cake | Makes 3 Layer 6" Cake

Cake:

  • 1 stick (113 g.) organic butter, softened
  • 198 g. organic sugar
  • 1 tsp. organic vanilla extract
  • 3 (102 g.) organic egg whites
  • ½ cup organic milk
  • 170 g. all natural cake flour
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. baking powder

Black Frosting:

  • 1 ½ sticks organic butter, softened
  • 340 g. organic powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp. all natural almond flavor
  • 1 tsp. organic vanilla extract
  • 1 T. food grade raw activated charcoal (find here)
  • 2-3 tsp. water

Succulent Frosting:

For Lavender – use tip #126

  • ¾ stick organic butter, softened
  • 170 g. organic powdered sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. ColorKitchen Blue Dye (find here)
  • 1/8 tsp. ColorKitchen Pink Dye (find here)
  • 1-2 tsp. water

For Dark Green – use tip #104

  • ¾ stick organic butter, softened
  • 170 g. organic powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp. ColorKitchen Blue Dye (find here)
  • 1 tsp. ColorKitchen Green Dye (find here)
  • 1/8 tsp. food grade raw activated charcoal (find here)
  • 1-2 tsp. water

For Green – use tip #75

  • ¾ stick organic butter, softened
  • 170 g. organic powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp. ColorKitchen Blue Dye (find here)
  • 1 tsp. ColorKitchen Green Dye (find here)
  • 1-2 tsp. water

For Dark Turqoise - use tip #8

  • Extra green frosting
  • a pinch of raw activated charcoal (find here)
  • ¼ tsp. ColorKitchen Blue Dye (find here)

Tools:

  • Cake spinner (optional)
  • Cake spatula
  • Ateco decorating tips #126, 104, 75, 199, 32, 8
  • 4 piping bags
  • 3 couplers
  • decorating nail (find here)
  • parchment paper

Method:

Cut parchment paper into 3 inch squares and have ready for later. You’ll want as many squares as you’ll have succulents.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line three 6” cake pans with parchment paper or grease and flour.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk egg whites at medium/high speed until stiff peaks form.

Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment (no need to wash), cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until smooth.

In a separate bowl whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and sea salt.

Add in the cake flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with cake flour.

Gently fold the egg whites into cake batter until smooth.

Measure batter evenly into each cake pan, about 225 g. each.

Bake for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Allow cakes to cool or place in the freezer while you make the succulents.

In a clean bowl of your stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, make the lavender frosting first. Add the butter, powdered sugar, blue dye, pink dye and water and mix on low until combined. Then speed mixer up to high for 1 minute or until light and fluffy. Put the frosting in a piping bag with decorating tip #126.

Using a decorating nail, place a small dollop of frosting on the nail. Then place a square of parchment paper on the nail so it sticks.

   

With your piping bag turn it so the thick side of the tip is on the bottom and the thinner side is on the top. Pipe a circle, creating a cone. Then pipe another one right on top of it.

   

Next, holding your piping bag the same way, pipe an upside down “U” on top of the cone. Then pipe 2 more to create a circle around the cone. 

   

You have now created the first layer of your rose. Continue to pipe upside down “U” shapes around the center until you have a larger succulent looking rose. Pull the parchment paper off the nail and place on a baking sheet and place in the freezer.

I piped about 4 of these so I could pick the ones I liked best for the cake. Pipe them until you have ones you like, you can even put the frosting back into the bag if you don’t like how it looks and you’re practicing. Just make sure to save some of the lavender frosting, at least a third of it. 

Next, make the dark green frosting. In a clean bowl of your stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add the butter, powdered sugar, blue dye, green dye, activated charcoal and water. Mix on low until combined, then speed mixer up to high for 1 minute or until light and fluffy.

In a piping bag with a coupler and decorating tip #104 put half the dark green frosting in on one side and the rest of the lavender frosting on the other side, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Using the decorating nail again, pipe a dollop of frosting on it and place a square of parchment paper.

With the piping bag facing straight down and the large side in the center, pipe a spiral.

Next, going around the spiral, pipe upside down “U”s again creating petals.

Do a couple layers to create however tall you want the succulent to be.

Pull the parchment paper off the nail and place on the baking sheet in the freezer.

    

Save some of the two toned frosting and change out the tip for decorating tip #32, you’ll use this to fill in the top of the cake later.

Next, make the green frosting. In a clean bowl of your stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add the butter, powdered sugar, green dye, blue dye. Mix on low until combined, then speed mixer up to high for 1 minute or until light and fluffy. Put about half of the frosting in a piping bag with a coupler and do not put a decorating tip in just yet.

On a square of parchment paper, pipe a large dollop of frosting. However tall you make this mound will be how tall this plant is.

Now add the decorating tip #75.

Starting at the top, pipe a line down to the bottom. Then directly across from that line do the same thing so half of the dome has a line down to the bottom.

Next, pipe a line down to the bottom from half way between those two lines on each side, so you have four lines going down to the bottom. This will help keep your plant symmetrical.

    

Next fill in the holes with lines going from the top to the bottom. The bottom doesn’t have to be perfect because you can trim this later. I just used a knife to trim off the edges so it was smooth. Place the parchment paper square on the baking sheet in the freezer with the rest of the plants.

Remove the decorating tip and replace it with decorating tip #199. You will use this later to fill in the top of the cake.

With the other half of the green frosting, add the blue dye and a pinch of activated charcoal. Stir to combine completely so you have a dark turquoise frosting. Put in a piping bag with a coupler but do not put a tip in just yet.

On a square of parchment paper, pipe a large dollop of frosting exactly like you did with the green.

Now put the decorating tip #8 in the coupler.

Just pipe spikes coming out of the middle of the dollop, going all the way around.

Pipe another set on top, placing them in between each of the bottom ones and continue up until the circle is full of spikes. Place this on the baking sheet with the rest of the plants and keep the baking sheet in the freezer until you are ready to assemble the cake.

    

By this time your cake should be cooled and ready to assemble. So it’s time to start the black frosting. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add the butter, powdered sugar, activated charcoal, vanilla extract and almond flavor. Mix on low until all ingredients are combined then speed mixer up to high for 1 minute or until light and fluffy. I found the charcoal dried out the buttercream just a little so add a little water if you would like it a little more loose.

On a cake stand, plate or spinner stack, frost and crumb coat your cake. You can find a tutorial here.

Next frost your cake smooth. And now you are ready to start assembling the succulents! 

Remove your succulents from the freezer. In order to stick them to the cake, just pull them off the parchment paper and place a dollop of frosting on the bottom and stick to the cake. 

   

Once you have stuck all the larger succulents on the cake and filled it how you like, just fill in the empty spaces with dollops of the green and green/lavender frosting.

Baker’s Note: You can make the succulents 24 hours in advance, just store them in the freezer! Also, to make this cake gluten free just substitute the all natural cake flour for an organic gluten free flour blend, our favorite is Namaste Organic Perfect Flour Blend.

High Altitude – bake at 350 degrees for 17 minutes