Grand Marnier Wedding Cake

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Complex

  • Serves:

    150

    servings ( 4 by 2 by ¾ inches )

Appears in

Baking Time: 35 to 45 minutes for the 6-inch, 45 to 55 minutes for the 9-inch, 50 to 60 minutes for the 12-inch layers

A dream I had was to offer one of my favorite cakes from my Cordon Rose Cooking School, the Gâteau au Grand Marnier et Chocolat, as a special wedding cake with three tiers (two layers each), frosted and filled with Grand Marnier Ganache. All of my testing with the larger layers was well worth it. And the cake has the extraordinary virtue of staying moist and delicious for up to three days at room temperature, even after you frost it.

Ingredients

Batter

For two 6 by 2-inch pans and two 9 by 2-inch pans

Volume Ounce Gram
sliced almonds, preferably unblanched cups 5.3 150
superfine sugar cups, divided 17.6 500
Valrhona Les Perles or mini semisweet chocolate chips cups 7.5 212
Grand Marnier 1 teaspoon . .
bleached all-purpose flour 4 teaspoons . .
7 large eggs, at room temperature cups plus 2 tablespoons (11 fluid ounces) 12.2 350
about 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature 1 tablespoon (0.5 fluid ounce) 0.6 18
sour cream 2 cups, divided 17 484
pure vanilla extract 2 teaspoons . .
bleached all-purpose flour cups (sifted into the cup and leveled off) 22 625
baking powder teaspoons . .
baking soda teaspoons . .
salt 2 teaspoons . .
orange zest, finely grated (see Note) 5 tablespoons, loosely packed 1 30
unsalted butter (65° to 75°F/19° to 23°C) 5 sticks 1 pound 4 ounces 567

Batter

For two 12 by 2-inch pans

Volume Ounce Gram
sliced almonds, preferably unblanched cups 6.3 180
superfine sugar 3 cups, divided 21 600
Valrhona Les Perles or mini semisweet chocolate chips cups 9 255
Grand Marnier 1 teaspoon . .
bleached all-purpose flour 4 teaspoons . .
9 large eggs, at room temperature cups (14 fluid ounces) 15.7 450
sour cream cups, divided 21.2 600
pure vanilla extract teaspoons . .
bleached all-purpose flour 6 ⅔ cups (sifted into the cup and leveled off) 26.5 750
baking powder 3 teaspoons . .
baking soda teaspoons . .
salt teaspoons . .
orange zest, finely grated (see Note) 6 tablespoons, loosely packed 1.3 36
unsalted butter (65° to 75°F/19° to 23°C) 6 sticks 1 pound 8 ounces 680

Special Equipment

A 6-quart stand mixer* | Cake pans and cake strips | Wire racks for cooling | Cardboard rounds | A cake presentation base, at least 15 inches | Plastic drinking straws for support

Method

Plan Ahead

Bake the cake layers at least 1 day before composing the cake. This gives the syrup a chance to moisten the cake evenly and the crumb to become firm enough to make moving the layers easier. Make the 2 batches of ganache at least 6 hours before using.

Special Equipment

Two 6 by 2-inch round cake pans and two 9 by 2-inch round cake pans, encircled with cake strips (for silicone strips, see Cake Strips), bottoms coated with shortening, topped with parchment rounds, then coated with baking spray with flour

Special Equipment

Two 12 by 2-inch cake pans, encircled with cake strips, bottoms coated with shortening, topped with parchment rounds, then coated with baking spray with flour

Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or more before baking, set the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Toast and Grind the Almonds

Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes, or until pale golden. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid overbrowning. Cool completely. In a food processor, process until fairly fine. Add about cup of the sugar and process until very fine.

Coat Les Perles

In a medium bowl, toss Les Perles and Grand Marnier until they are moistened and shiny. Add the 4 teaspoons of flour and toss until evenly coated.

Mix the Liquid Ingredients

In a medium bowl, lightly whisk the eggs (and the extra yolk for the 6 and 9-inch batter), the sour cream (½ cup for the 6 and 9-inch batter, cup for the 12-inch batter), and the vanilla just until combined.

Make the Batters

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the ground almonds, the remaining sugar, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1½ minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in three parts, beating on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.

Remove the bowl from the stand. With a large silicone spatula, scrape down the sides and fold in Les Perles. Using the silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surfaces with a small offset spatula.

For the 6- and 9-inch layers, begin by spooning the batter into each 6-inch pan to fill half full (14 ounces/400 grams). Scrape the rest into each 9-inch pan, which will be two-thirds full (36.7 ounces/1,043 grams).

For the 12-inch layers, divide the batter evenly between the two pans (62.5 ounces/1,773 grams in each pan). They will be a little more than half full.

Bake the Cakes

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes for the 6-inch layers, 45 to 55 minutes for the 9-inch layers, and 50 to 60 minutes for the 12-inch layers, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the centers registers 200° to 205°F (93° to 96°C). The cakes should just begin to come away from the sides of the pans.

While the cakes are baking, prepare the wire racks or clean surfaces for unmolding. You will need a wire rack for each layer. Also, for each set of layers, you will need one cardboard round base of the corresponding size (6, 9, and 12 inches) for the bottom layers and, for inverting and transferring the upper layers, two flat supporting surfaces at least the diameter of the layers, such as additional cardboard rounds, baking sheets with at least one open side, or the loose bottoms of fluted tart pans. In order to prevent sticking and ensure that the upper layer will slide readily off the supporting surface, cover the surface with plastic wrap or aluminum foil that has been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

Shortly before the cakes are finished baking, make the Grand Marnier syrup. If desired, the syrup can be made in one large batch and divided before use.

Make the Grand Marnier Syrup

See recipe.

Apply Half the Syrup

As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, place each pan on a wire rack, poke the cakes all over with a thin skewer, and brush the cakes with half the appropriate amount of syrup. Apply more toward the edges and less toward the centers. Allow the 6- and 9-inch layers to cool for 10 minutes and the 12-inch layers for 20 minutes before unmolding and brushing them with the remaining half of the syrup.

Unmold the Cakes and Apply the Remaining Syrup

Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pans and the cakes, pressing firmly against the pans. Working with one layer of each size at a time (these will be the top layers), set the prepared supporting surface on top of the cake and invert the cake onto it. Remove the pan and poke the bottom of the cake all over with the skewer. Brush the bottom of the cake with the appropriate amount of syrup, again applying more toward the edges and less toward the center. Cool completely. If the cake had a slight dome, it will have flattened on cooling, but if necessary, reinvert the cake onto the second prepared supporting surface. Trim the cake to make it level and reinvert it so that the firm bottom crust is up, which will make it easier to frost.

Brush and trim each remaining layer, if necessary, and invert directly onto a cardboard round base of the corresponding size (6, 9, and 12 inches). Wrap the layers well with plastic wrap that has been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray and let them sit at room temperature for at least 1 day. If desired, after this preliminary 24 hours at room temperature, the layers can be stored for 3 to 5 days at room temperature, for 1 week refrigerated, and up to 3 months frozen.

Make the Grand Marnier Ganache

See recipe.

Compose the Cake

See the introduction beginning with Preparing the Layers for Frosting for filling, frosting, and composing a wedding cake. Place Les Perles around the base of each tier and on the sides as well. (You will need about ⅔ cup/4 ounces/113 grams of Les Perles.) Alternatively, pipe small beads of the ganache (see Decorative Piping) around the base to hide the cardboard round.

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