Wedding Cake / Torta Nuziale
SERVES 40 – 50
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 4 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 3 cups sugar
- 10 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons almond extract
- 1/2 cup finely ground hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup finely ground walnuts
- 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
- 1 pound unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup mascarpone (or good-quality cream cheese, softened)
- 12 to 13 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons rum or almond extract
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 12 by 12 by 3-inch cake pan.
- Combine the buttermilk and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.
- Sift the flour and salt onto wax paper.
- In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream the butter, shortening, and sugar until well blended. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, making sure that each one is well incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the almond extract. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk mixture, blending well. Stir in the nuts and coconut.
- In another bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. With a large spatula, fold the egg whites into the batter. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Cool the cake completely in the pan on a cooling rack. (At this point, the cake can be wrapped in heavy freezer paper, then in aluminum foil, and frozen for up to 1 month. It can be frosted still-frozen.)
- In a heavy-duty mixer or a food processor, beat or process the butter and cheese until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar a cupful at a time, beating or processing to achieve a frosting that is easily spreadable but firm enough to pipe through a pastry bag. Add the extract. (The frosting can be made up to 3 days ahead. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Let come to room temperature before using.)
- When ready to frost the cake, assemble a cake frosting knife, or icing spatula, a rubber spatula, and a pastry bag and assorted tips. Prepare a bowl of ice water.
- Using a pastry brush, gently brush any loose crumbs from the top and sides of the cake. Spread a small amount of the frosting on the cake platter or board to help anchor the cake and prevent it from shifting. Carefully position the cake on the platter or board. Slip a border of wax paper around the bottom edges of the cake to keep the platter or board clean.
- Apply a base coat of frosting to the cake, covering the top first then the sides. Dip the frosting knife in the ice water frequently and wipe clean to help keep the frosting smooth as it is spread and to prevent loose crumbs from making unsightly flecks in the frosting.
- Using the pastry bag and an assortment of decorative tips, pipe the frosting to make a design on the cake: swags, swirls, a basket-weave design, columns, free-form designs, or whatever you desire. Finish with a decorative border around the bottom of the cake. Carefully pull away the wax paper. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.
- To give the cake a final elegant touch, place a small spray of fresh flowers on the top.