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RECIPE: Corona Cake

RECIPE: Corona Cake

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Coronovirus cake

Coronavirus cake, created for Halloween, photographed Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Photo by Hillary Levin, hlevin@post-dispatch.com

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

For the cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup vegetable shortening, butter or margarine, softened

1¼ cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup milk

For the buttercream:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

4 cups sifted powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk or cream, as needed

Pinch of salt, optional

For the red spiky things:

4 ounces white chocolate

Red food coloring

For the frosting:

8 ounces white chocolate, chopped

¹⁄³ cup whipping cream

Black food coloring, optional

Note: The cake, buttercream and red spiky things can all be made 1 day in advance.

1. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 half-sphere cake pans at least 6 inches in diameter.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt.

3. In a large bowl or stand mixer, with mixer on medium speed, beat shortening or butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat just until smooth, scraping bowl frequently with rubber spatula.

4. Spoon batter equally into prepared pans so that they come to the same level. Place on a baking sheet; use ovenproof custard cups, ramekins or other bowls to hold pans steady in the oven. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center of each cake comes out clean, about 30 to 45 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. With small knife, loosen cakes from sides of pans if necessary; invert onto wire racks to cool completely. When cool, use a serrated knife to slice any domed portion of each cake off of the broadest side; you want the cakes to be completely level on their wide sides.

5. To make the buttercream: In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the vanilla. If necessary, add enough milk or cream to make the buttercream easily spreadable. Taste and beat in salt if needed.

6. Line the half-sphere pans with plastic wrap. Carefully slice each dome of cake horizontally 2 times, to make 3 layers per dome.

7. Use about half of the buttercream for this step. Spread some of the buttercream on the cut side of the top of one cake (the smallest piece), and place cut-side up in the bottom of each half-dome pan. Place the next layer of cake on that and spread more buttercream on top of it. Place the last and largest slice of cake on top of those and spread more buttercream on top. Repeat with the other cake.

8. To make the completed cake stable and to keep the weight of a cake larger than 7 inches in diameter from collapsing on itself, carefully place 3 thin 6-inch wooden dowels or bubble-tea straws or other hygienic thin rods halfway into the middle of one of the cake halves, spaced about 1 inch apart in a triangle. Try not to push so hard that they come out of the bottom, though the damage is not irreparable if they do.

9. Place the other cake half on top to form a ball and refrigerate 10 minutes; it will help to put the cake in a custard cup or something similar to keep it from rolling.

10. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and take it out of the pans. Cut a thin slice from one end so it can stand up. Spread the remainder of the buttercream in a thin layer around the cake, filling any gaps as you go (reserve a little of the buttercream if you plan to depict your corona cake wearing a mask).

11. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.

12. To make the red spiky things: Set up a double boiler or place an absolutely dry heatproof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water; make sure the bowl does not touch the water. Add the 4 ounces of chopped white chocolate and several drops of the red food coloring at the same time; food coloring gel is less likely to make the chocolate seize than liquid coloring, but they both carry a risk of it. Stir constantly with a completely dry spoon; when the chocolate is half-melted, remove the bowl from above the hot water and continue stirring until the chocolate is completely melted and red.

13. Spoon the chocolate into candy molds capable of making rods ¼ inch wide by 2 or 3 inches long, or allow the chocolate to cool slightly and pipe onto parchment paper into rods ¼ inch wide by 2 or 3 inches long. Cool until the chocolate solidifies; this can be done faster in the refrigerator.

14. To frost the cake: Place the 8 ounces of chopped white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Add a drop or two of the optional black food coloring, if you want to turn the frosting gray. Bring the ¹⁄³ cup of whipping cream to a boil; you may find it easier to heat more than that, but use only ¹⁄³ cup. Note: If using any other kind of cream or milk, heat it only until just before it starts to simmer.

15. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, allow it to sit for 1 minute, and then stir until the chocolate is thoroughly melted and blended with the cream. Allow this ganache to cool until it is thick and spreadable, almost the consistency of peanut butter.

16. Place the cake on the serving platter and spread the ganache evenly all over the cake. If you have a piece of flexible plastic, such as a thin plastic cutting board, you can bend it slightly to reflect the curve of the cake, hold it steady and spin the cake around under it to scrape off the excess frosting; placing the platter on a lazy susan and spinning it makes it much easier to do this.

17. Push the red chocolate rods into the cake at well-distributed, random intervals.

18. If decorating the cake with a mask, divide the reserved buttercream into two-thirds and one-third. Use a drop of blue food coloring to color the two-thirds portion. Carefully decorate the cake, using the blue buttercream for the blue part of a mask and the white buttercream for the outline of the mask, the white strip on top and the ear loops.

Per serving (based on 12): 554 calories; 33g fat; 16g saturated fat; 95mg cholesterol; 6g protein; 62g carbohydrates; 45g sugar; 1g fiber; 256g sodium; 153mg calcium

Recipe by Daniel Neman. Yellow cake recipe from “The Baker’s Book of Essential Recipes” by Good Housekeeping. Buttercream recipe from wilton.com.

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