Weddings are a lovely, fun and exciting event. For some (and probably most) brides and grooms, the months, weeks and days leading up to the “big day” can be stressful. A co-worker of mine got engaged last year. His fiancé and he quickly started planning their nuptials for this summer. With all the pieces of the puzzle in place for an out of state wedding, they thought they were good to go. However, a month and a half before the wedding they completely changed their plans. Instead, it would be in town at a restaurant that offered an all-inclusive package – ceremony space and post-ceremony dinner (they had their formal reception a week later). Cool, right? For the most part, yes. But that meant changing and cancelling vendors in the other state. Thankfully most of the switcheroo was painless. The only puzzle piece missing was the post-ceremony wedding cake. That’s where I come in. Two weeks before the ceremony, my co-worker came to me and asked if I could make the cakes for their post-ceremony dinner. He explained that they wanted a specific recipe and the bakeries they talked to would not make a particular recipe that was not their own. I agreed to take on the task!
My co-worker emailed the recipe that they wanted after checking in with his fiancé. I agreed to make a taste test version later that week for them to try. After sampling the test cake, they realized they had given me the incorrect recipe. They then triple-checked that they indeed had the correct one saved and emailed it over to me. Again, I made a taste test version. Excited and satisfied with the sample, they gave the go ahead on the recipe.
The correct recipe they gave me was quite vague in some areas, so I made the taste test and final product with my interpretation of it. Below is the recipe that includes my additions (*) and directions the way I actually made it versus the recipe given to me. Also the recipe below is for one full cake; for the post-ceremony dinner I made two full cakes (so double the recipe).
This cake is a multi-step process, with chilling between steps of assembly. So be sure to fully read the recipe, as you should every recipe, before beginning.
To make sure that I had time to accomplish the cake making, since these cakes were going to be wedding cakes, the plan was to bake the cakes the day before, wrap in saran wrap and place in the refrigerator to assemble the day of. I was able to bake the cake layers for one cake the night before but was short eggs and oil from all of the taste test baking. The morning of the big day, I woke up at 5am, went to the grocery store for the two missing ingredients, and rushed home. I baked the cake layers for the second cake. Got it assembled and into the freezer to set. While that was chilling, I got the first cake frosted and packed up for pick-up by my co-worker. I thought I chilled the second cake long enough, but when I tried to release it from the springform pan, I quickly realized it was not completely set, so had to reseal it and place back in the freezer. At this point it was coming down to the wire on time. I started to have a mini panic but tried to contain it and my wonderful boyfriend calmed me down and strategized. I left the cake in the freezer until the last possible moment that would allow me to frost and decorate in time for the pick-up. Five minutes before my co-worker and his bestman arrived at my home, I completed and packed up the cake. Phew!
The cakes turned out great! The couple and their guests loved them. I got nothing but rave reviews after the wedding from the happy couple. I even received some professional pictures of one of the cakes on display!
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Limoncello Cream Torte
1 Box Yellow Cake Mix (2-layer size)
½ Cup Limoncello*
1 Lemon, Zested and Juiced (keep separated)*
1 3-Oz Package Sugar-Free Lemon Jell-O or Gelatin
1 Cup Boiling Water
1 8-Oz Package Cream Cheese, Softened
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 13-Oz Can Evaporated Milk, Chilled and Whipped
1 Package Ladyfingers
Whipped Cream, Homemade or Store Bought*
½ Box of Nilla Wafers
Open the can of evaporated milk and place in a large bowl. Place the bowl into the refrigerator to chill.
For the cake:
Grease the bottoms and sides of two round 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Mix the cake batter according to the box directions, most likely you will need eggs, oil and water. Divide the batter between the two cake pans. Bake at the temperature and for the length of time indicated on the box.
Test the cakes with a toothpick, to ensure that they are baked through – when you insert the toothpick into the middle of the cake, it should come out clean. If the toothpick has unbaked batter, leave in the oven to bake a few minutes more – checking and repeating if necessary.
Once the cakes are fully baked, remove from the oven and cool for 20 minutes on cooling racks. Remove from the pans and cool completely on the racks. Remove parchment paper once cooled.
For the cream filling:
In a small bowl, dissolve the Jell-O/gelatin in the boiling water. Chill in the refrigerator until think but not set. This may take 15-30 minutes depending on your refrigerator temperature. Be sure to keep an eye on it, as again you do not want it to set.
While the Jell-O is chilling, in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, lemon zest and vanilla extract together. When Jell-O/gelatin is ready, mix into the cream cheese mixture.
Remove the bowl of evaporated milk from the refrigerator; whip the milk until soft-ish peaks form and then fold into the cream cheese-gelatin mixture.
To assemble the cake:
Mix the lemon juice and limoncello in a bowl. Set aside.
Using a serrated knife, place the cake layers on a cutting board or flat surface, cut the tops of your cakes so that they are flat and even. Take a pastry brush and gently brush about 2/3 of the lemon-limoncello mixture onto the top of the cake layers.
Using a 9-inch springform pan, this will help keep the cake together as it chills, place the first layer of cake on the bottom (top side up). Next pour and spread about a half inch of the cream mixture over this layer. Layer the ladyfingers over the cream mixture, briefly dipping them into the remaining 1/3 of the lemon-limoncello mixture as you layer (please see diagram below for ladyfinger layout). Next, pour in another half inch of the cream mixture. Place the second cake layer on top, bottom side up. If you have any lemon-limoncello mixture leftover, feel free to brush the top of the assembled cake with it.
Using saran or cling wrap, wrap the cake and springform pan. Place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours to allow the cake to set.
After 3 hours (or a little longer if not set after 3 hours), remove the cake from the refrigerator, release it from the springfrom pan and frost your cake with the whipped cream.
Coarsely chop the Nilla wafers – you can do so by placing in a food processor or by placing them in a sealed Ziploc bag and crunching with a rolling pin. Taking small handfuls at a time, place the cookie pieces around the sides and top of your cake.
To finish off your cake, slice strawberries (as many as you’d like) and place them around the top of the cake.
Be sure to keep chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve!
* Note: If you do not have 3 hours to chill the assembled cake before frosting and cookie crumbing, you can place it in the freezer until it is set. About 20 to 30 minutes or until set.
** To make homemade whipped cream: Place a bowl in the freezer to chill. Pour in heavy whipping cream, a little sugar and beat with a hand mixer, stand mixer or whisk until stiff peaks form.