How To: Chocolate Cage Tutorial

On Valentine’s Day, Jon and I invited our friends Brandi & Nick up for a lovely little dinner.

IMG_5203I made this cake.

And then I posted it on Facebook.

About a gazillion of you said you, too, wanted to know how to decorate a cake in such a fashion.  So, here I am, willing to teach you.

There’s really not all that much to it, to be honest.  It just LOOKS fussy and complicated.  Truth be told, if you can throw some icing on a cake, the chocolate cage will only add a few short minutes of extra time. And, if you can’t ice a cake so well, no problem…no one’s really going to see those mistakes anyway, as they are hidden by the cage.

Now, I did NOT take step by step photos when I made the Valentine Cake, which was a deep, dark chocolate cake with a hint of hazelnut, chocolate ganache, strawberry whipped cream, and chocolate covered strawberries as a garnish.

It was pretty incredible, if I do say so myself.  If you all want the recipe, tell me here in the comments, and I will take one for the team and REMAKE that cake.  And I’ll eat it.  But then I will blog about it and give you the recipe.

Team player, y’all.

how-to-complete cake

To change things up, for this tutorial, I made a lemon cake filled with blueberry whipped cream and iced it with sweetened whipped cream.  For the cage, I tinted white chocolate.

Let me stop right now and tell you something.

If you are a virgin in the world of chocolate, I’m going to recommend that you do not start your cage making experience by using white chocolate.  And, if you do, don’t try to tint it.  Why?  White chocolate is more difficult to work with.  It’s temperamental to melt (if it gets too hot, throw it out, you’re done), and if you use a tint with too much liquid in it, that white chocolate will seize up in a heartbeat.  Add to that it dries faster, which means you have little time to work with it.  Now, I did all right on mine, though it DID dry on me before I could wrap the cake.  My solution?  A quick trip to the oven for a few seconds got it back to where I needed it.  But again, just know that working with dark or milk chocolate will be much, much easier.

I kid you not.  I love you guys, so I’m not trying to trick you.

Now, let’s move on to the cage making extravaganza.

First things first – make your cake.  In case you aren’t a big baker, use a box mix.  Just take my advise and add a bit less water and one extra egg.  That will make the cake richer and sturdier.  You want this.

  I made my cake in 3 six inch cake pans, so that it’s taller.  And that’s one box mix, in case you are curious.  Once I leveled each layer, the stacking began.  As you can see, I piped a border of the plain whipped cream to keep the blueberry whipped cream contained in the center.  From there, I added the second layer with the same technique, and finally, the top.

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I use wooden skewers or a strong drinking straw to keep my cakes standing straight and tall, and to keep them from wiggling as I decorate them.  Just measure the height you need and insert the skewer in the center of the cake from the top.  Pretty easy stuff.  Once that’s done, I iced the cake in the plain whipped cream, and into the refrigerator it went to cool.

Now comes the cage.

Roll out a piece of parchment paper large enough to fully wrap around the cake.  Now, I like my cage to be taller than the cake, so if you want the same thing, be sure the width of your parchment extends as high as you want it to.  For my 8 inch tall cake, I made my cage 10-11 inches tall.

Once your chocolate is JUST melted (not too runny, not to hot, just melted), load it into a piping bag.  Snip the end just a bit, leaving a fairly small hole for the chocolate to pipe through.  If it seems too small, snip a little more.  You don’t want the cage to be too fragile, so don’t make the piped lines too tiny.  There’s your warning.

Now, pipe all manner of swirls onto your parchment.  It will look something like this:

how-to-1

Again, more is better, you don’t want it too fragile.

The next step is the most difficult.  You need to watch the chocolate.

Just – watch it.

It will start to set, losing it’s shine.  Once it’s almost dry, but when you pick up the parchment it still bends freely, it’s time to apply it to the cake.

Take that parchment, chocolate facing the cake, and wrap it around the cake.  Do. Not. Scoot. It. In. To. Place.  Put it where you want it the first time.  If you wiggle it, it will smear. No good.  Just tackle it with volition, and gently press it into the sides of the cake.  The extra part at the top will hold up fine, really.  It will be okay.

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Back into the fridge with it.

In about 5 minutes, it will be all set.  You can leave it longer, but I have this sneaky feeling you won’t be able to wait it out.

Carefully, very carefully…start peeling the the parchment away.

Voila!  You have made a chocolate cage!  Now decorate it however you like.  For this blueberry cake, I piped some more whipped cream, added a bit more blueberry cream to the center, and added a few fresh berries.  I also added another piped chocolate flourish.  Nothing too fancy.

how-to-cake-2

So did that help?  Are you ready to do it yourself?

Feel free to ask me any questions you like, I’m here!

Until next time kids, have a great weekend!  As for me, I am headed off for a little R&R with my boys at The Homestead!  A dip in the hot springs, some world class dining, and, if I’m lucky at all – sleeping in!  See you Monday!

Comments

  1. Beautiful!!!! I can’t wait to do it!!! And you definitely need to post that cake!!!

  2. WOW! What beautiful cakes! Thanks so much for the tutorial – I may get brave and give it a try someday :)

  3. OMG Susan, you’re killing me! Now I have all sorts of urges to tell my boss I’m sick, go home, and bake a cake. Which is a terrible idea, considering I’m on a diet.

    • doughmesstic says:

      Use dark chocolate then. All those antioxidents are worth the few calories. And, decorating burns off calories as well.

  4. Girl. You are a cake-ing rockstar.

  5. This looks fabulous! Can’t wait to try it.

  6. OMG this is awesome. Totally trying it soon!!!

  7. Cheryljw says:

    Thank you so so so very much for sharing this amazing technique. I can’t wait to try this! And, thanks for the tip about the white chocolate, I wondered why I had been having so much trouble~ it always “burns”. ?

    • doughmesstic says:

      Ugh – white chocolate is a beast. Just heat it at ridiculously slow intervals. I’ll heat it for say 14 seconds at a time, until it is just melted, then for about 6-7 seonds at a time until nice and smooth. Good luck!

  8. I’m begging you to do the dark chocolate cake for us. I want that recipe badly. Thanks.

  9. This is amazing–can’t wait to make one!

  10. Just beautiful Susan! Not sure I could tackle that one, I can’t even get piped words off the paper without them breaking lol.

  11. What a stunning cake! What a wonderful idea…so pretty!

  12. Wow I love this, it looks amazing. Thank you for the tutorial!

  13. This looks fantastic, can’t wait to try it! One simple trick, if you use oil based coloring on white chocolate it won’t seize up suddenly.

  14. Is there any trick to making the seam look nice where the cage wraps around and meets itself? Do you just measure carefully to make sure you’re making the cage to the exact right lenght, as well as height? looks fantastic!

    • doughmesstic says:

      I’ll be honest – I rarely really measure…and therefore my cage is a little shy of being all the way around. to fix that, I make an extra little piece, and fill it in. You can’t tell, since all of the squiggles overlap anyway. So, if you DO measure (and I recommend that) – your seam won’t even show. Squiggles are where it’s at!

  15. Dora Laojeda d Antillon says:

    i would love having the recipie!!

  16. Jeannie says:

    Beautiful , what size tip did you use? Thanks

    • doughmesstic says:

      I actually didn’t use a tip here – I just snipped the end of the plastic piping bag. But a 5 would be a good size.

  17. Hallo doughmesstic,

    I found your block becaus I saw this cake on fb. My English is terrible (I learned it about 50 years ago and very seldom used it. So I have always to use a dictionary to grasp what people want me to say ;-) . But now I will follow your excellent blog. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    Hilde from Germany

  18. PS: may I share it in another online forum?
    Hilde

  19. Hallo Susann,

    one of the blogger tried to do this recept promptly today. Here you can have a look at her cake:
    http://www.torten-talk.de/t57586f32-Schoko-Kaefig-fuer-die-Torte.html#msg10595244

  20. Gabrielle says:

    OMG!!! It´s awesome!!!This is a perfect cake!!! Thank u 4 sharing!

  21. Michelle says:

    Just a quick question, maybe even stupid – but after you have completed the design on the parchment paper and you are letting it set and “loose it’s shine”, how long is that approximately?

    • Michelle says:

      Ok, so I didn’t let it set long enough before asking lol but I think I let it set too much, it was cracking when I lifted it practice test #1 successful. Thank you very much and just in time as I am doing a cake tomorrow and I didn’t know what I was going to do for the chocolate decorations. Now I am using this technique. Thanks again.

  22. gona try this for my grandaughter can you colour white choco
    late any colour, need the recipe for the cake plz thanx

  23. Thank you for the tutorial. You bare very talented. I would love the recipient to try. I am an amateur baker and so inspired by your work.

  24. corina calin lupi says:

    grazie per questa idea ! spero di fare ,,la gabbietta ,,

  25. SO pretty! I’m going to try this for my mom’s birthday!

  26. Please forward me the recipe for the blueberry and chocoalte cakes. Thanks so much!

  27. Can you use milk chocolate as well? I’m not too keen on the dark.. thanks

    Brilliant tutorial btw, I’m going to try it tomorrow for my husbands birthday!

  28. I love it! Do you think it would work also for a rectangle cake?

  29. Could you do this technique and place the decorated cake in the fridge until the next day? Or will the chocolate collapse from the condensation in the fridge?

  30. Just made this cake. Pretty fun cake. Thanks for the tutorial!

  31. That is BEAUTIFUL! I love the purple of the blueberry whipped cream and the tinted white chocolate. So fancy! Now that you’ve made it though, how did you slice it? Did the cage crumble under your knife? I’m perplexed! Please show us the cake after a piece has been cut–taking one for the team, of course. ;)

  32. Hi,
    Am I correct in assuming you don’t use tempered chocolate, just melted chocolate?
    Am using it today and freaking out a bit :S
    Thank you!

  33. You are so creative. Thanks for the inspiration. I am going to try this with words in different colored chocolate. Fingers crossed.

  34. I am wondering if you would share your recipe for the blueberry filling used in this cake. Thanks!

  35. Hey I was just wondering what kind of chocolate you used? This is probably something I’m overthinking but I have chocolate chip. Do I just melt those or do I need to add a little bit of oil?

  36. christine says:

    Would the chocolate melt as it’s against the whipped cream? I want to finish the cake a day before the party but concerned that the chocolate cage will collapse. How can can I leave the chocolate against the cream?

    • doughmesstic says:

      I’ve never had my cage melt at all, even after several days. Just keep the cake in the fridge, and bring it out at least an hour before ou serve it to warm it up to room temp. Let me know what you think!

  37. amazing!! What do you use to tint the chocolate??

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