Purple Ombre Cake

For obvious reasons, this Purple Ombre Cake was the centerpiece of the entire 1000th Post Party last weekend. It stole the show. I kept it in the fridge while all the savory treats were being consumed so that it wouldn’t distract everyone from the awesome food they were eating. But that didn’t work. Inevitably, someone had to open the fridge to get a new bottle of champagne, and then the exclamations of amazement started.

Purple Ombre Cake

I have to admit, I’m very proud of how this cake turned out. I wasn’t really sure how it would go. I knew I could do it, but I was worried I’d be frustrated with the decorating. As I have mentioned many times before, decorating a cake is not my strongest skill. Hubby even admitted later that when he saw the inspiration behind the cake, he didn’t think I had it in me. He honestly thought I was being over ambitious.

Don’t get me wrong, this is an ambitious cake. Four layers of cake, all a different gradient of purple, covered in roses, again piped in varying shades of purple. But believe me, with a little planning, and some practice, anyone can make this cake. I have a few tips on some things not to do, and some things to do when considering making this cake.

Purple Ombre Cake

1. Don’t forget the sugar in two of the cake layers. This cake method is a bit different than most. Most cakes start with creaming butter and sugar. Not this one. It’s more like mixing biscuits. You add the butter to the dry ingredients before adding the liquid ingredients. So when your brain goes into autopilot and you mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, don’t make the mistake I made and assume that’s all that goes in there! Add the sugar. FYI, I tried stirring in the sugar at the end and baking them because I hate wasting ingredients. The cake looked like cake when it came out of the oven. But it tasted… well, like the sugar was mixed in at the end. It was really sweet. And a little gummy.

So I had to re-bake two of the cake layers. Which means I have 18 egg yolks in my fridge right now. I see a lot of creme brulee in our future.

Purple Ombre Cake

2. Don’t change your mind about the color of your frosting at the end. My original plan was to have the lightest shade of frosting be white. After piping the bottom two rows, I piped the first white rose and decided it was too big of a difference from the previous color. So I scraped that rose off, stirred in some purple food coloring and mixed up the lightest shade that you see in the finished cake. I’m sure you all think it looks fine, but I wish I had done that up front so I could have done the crumb coat in the lightest color. It annoyed the perfectionist in me that you could see specs of white peaking through between the roses.

3. Do mix up the cake batter in two batches. Trust me, you mixer can’t handle a double batch of that batter. To make your life easier, measure everything out for both batches at once. So when you put the flour in the bowl of your mixer, measure the same amount out and put it into another bowl. Then when it’s time to make the second batch, everything is measured and ready to go.

Purple Ombre Cake

4. Do invest in a cake decorating turn table. Hubby is always on my case about the amount of baking gadgets I have. I have been eyeing one of these bad boys for quite some time but I didn’t know where I’d store it. I finally decided to just get one and figure it out later. I’m SO glad I did that. Applying the crumb coat took about 1/3 of the time that it takes without one and it helped when I was piping the roses too. Believe me, it’s worth the $18.

5. Do make this fruit passion curd. I don’t care if you’re intimidated by this cake, if you do nothing else, make the filling. Eat it with a spoon, on a graham cracker, or stuffed into a cupcake. It’s seriously delicious. Goya makes great frozen fruit purees in a variety of flavors. I want to make this curd in every possible flavor available (you can find the purees in the frozen food aisle near the other Hispanic foods). It’s SO simple and delicious.

Purple Ombre Cake

6. Do as much ahead of time as you can. I feel like a broken record here, but the key with layer cakes not becoming too overwhelming is to break things up. I made the curd on Thursday night, baked the cakes on Friday, and made the frosting on Saturday. Then I just had to stack and decorate it before the party.

And last but not least, don’t be intimidated by the roses! They’re very simple to do and with a little practice, you’ll be a pro in no time. Just remember that to pipe roses, you start in the center and make one big swirl from the inside to the outside.

UPDATE: Click here for the Video Tutorial on How to Pipe a Rose

Hubby was shocked to watch me decorate the cake because it honestly took about 15 minutes total. The biggest pain was washing the tip between colors of frosting. And, to convince you guys even further, I’ve recorded a video of how to pipe roses! It needs a smidge of editing over the weekend, and I’m hoping to post it first thing Monday. So be sure to come back for that!

One Year Ago: Hot Cross Buns
Two Years Ago: Raspberry Curd
Three Years Ago: Raspberry Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

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Purple Ombre Cake

Such an impressive cake for any special occasion

Yield: Serves 16-20

Ingredients:

For the Cake Layers
Double batch of White Cupcakes, baked into four 9-inch layers
Food coloring of your choice

For the Passion Fruit Curd
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup passion fruit nectar or puree - Look in the hispanic aisle in your grocery store - Goya makes all sorts of fruit purees
4 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean - split, seeds scraped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

For the White Chocolate Buttercream
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar (or more, depending on desired consistency)
Pinch of salt
12 oz. good quality white chocolate, chopped (not white chocolate chips or candy melts!)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
Food coloring of your choice

Directions:

For the Cake Layers
I recommend making the cake twice instead of doubling the recipe. While you're measuring out the ingredients for the cake, just measure out enough for the second batch at the same time so it's easier the second time around.

The first time through, leave one layer white. Add a few drops food coloring to the second layer prior to baking (I used 5 drops in my lightest layer).

When making the third and fourth layers, add a bit more food coloring to each layer such that you'll have gradually darker layers (I used 9 and 18 drops for my darker layers).

Allow all layers to cool completely.

For the Passion Fruit Curd
In a saucepan, whisk the sugar and cornstarch.

Whisk in the passion fruit nectar, egg yolks and vanilla seeds and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until thick, 6 minutes.

Remove from the heat; whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated.

Scrape the filling into a glass bowl, press a sheet of plastic wrap on the surface and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

For the Frosting
Put the chopped white chocolate into a small bowl. Heat the chocolate in 30 second increments in the microwave set to 60% power. Stir after each increment, and continue to heat 30 seconds at a time, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside and allow to completely cool.

Once white chocolate has cooled, sift the salt and powdered sugar over the butter, in a large bowl. Cream the butter and sugar mixture together until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

Measure the whipping cream into a cup, and stir in the vanilla extract.

With the mixer running on low speed, gradually pour the cream mixture the bowl.

Once the cream mixture has been incorporated into the frosting, fold on the melted (but cooled) white chocolate until incorporated.

Increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and beat frosting for an additional 3 minutes.

To Assemble the Cake
Once all of the cake layers have cooled, level each of the layers except the white layer.

Place a small amount of frosting on a cake board to stabilize the cake. Center the darkest layer on the cake board. Pipe a small ring around the edge of the cake layer. This will ensure the filling doesn't spill out between the layers.

Spoon a heaping 1/3 cup filling into center of cake and spread to the edges.

Stack the next lighter cake on top and continue the process until all layers are stacked and the white layer is on top.

Frost the cake with a crumb coat and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

To Decorate the Cake
Place ~3/4 cup of frosting into two separate bowls (you'll have three bowls of frosting at this point, two with 3/4 cup, and one with the rest, which will be more than 3/4 cup).

The bowl with the most frosting will be your lightest color. Add food coloring to that bowl first until the desired color is reached. Color the other two bowls of frosting such that you have three shades of frosting.

Alternatively, leave all of the frosting one color.

Place the cake on a rotating cake stand. Starting at the bottom, pipe a row of roses along the cake using the darkest frosting color. You're going to pipe three rows of roses, so make sure they cover about 1/3 the height of the cake.

Continue with a second row of roses in the next lighter shade of frosting. Place the roses directly above the bottom layer.

Finish with one last row of roses in the lightest color. Next, decorate the top of the cake by piping a rose in the center of the top of the cake. Work your way around from there piping three circles of roses on the top of the cake.

If there are any large spaces between roses, you can pipe small stars into them to fill the space.

Filling recipe from Kaitlyn in the Kitchen, Frosting recipe from Country Cleaver

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35 Responses to “Purple Ombre Cake”

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    1
    Anonymous — June 11, 2012 at 4:43 am

    Thank you so much for this idea and the tutorial! I made a purple ombré cake this weekend and it was a big hit for my daughter’s 4the birthday party!! I used your raspberry curd recipe and basic vanilla buttercream and it was so yummy! Next time I make it I will splurge on better food coloring because the colors were pretty muted.
    I also made it a little easier on myself by going darkest on top to light-that way when I frosted I started at the bottom with the lightest frosting and then made the frosting darker for the next layer… Helped me so that I’d didn’t have too many bowls of frosting an piping bags going.

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    mcretz — September 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    How far in advance do you think is okay to frost it? I’m making the cake for a baby shower Saturday evening, but we have another event during the day. Do you think Friday would be okay to frost it? I just don’t want the frosting to get hard! Thanks!!!

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    Anonymous — November 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    What color purple did you use and how much for each color?

    • beantownbaker — January 3rd, 2013 @ 10:16 am

      I didn’t actually pay attention, I just added purple until I liked the colors. Sorry I can’t be more helpful…

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    Anonymous — January 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    The links for the cake and icing are no longer available. Is there any way to get them?

    • beantownbaker — January 3rd, 2013 @ 10:16 am

      It looks like some of my links died with my redesign. I will try to get this fixed today.

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    Shereen — January 22, 2013 at 7:21 am

    Thanks for the superb idea! I’ve never tried piping flowers, thinking it would be too complicated. Your video laid those fears to rest – I was so thrilled with the results of the purple rose cake I tried last night, and I used your curd recipe to make an orange marmalade curd filling – so delish I sneak the leftovers with a spoon!! Thank you!!

    • beantownbaker — January 22nd, 2013 @ 7:42 am

      So glad to hear that the video was helpful for you! Roses are definitely easier than most people would assume.

      Orange marmalade curd sounds amazing!!

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    Christina @ Diary of a Teenage Baker — March 7, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    I made a cake inspired by this one for a bridal shower a few weeks ago! I wanted to try the passionfruit curd but I couldn’t find the fruit puree at my grocery store :( I’ll keep looking in other stores!

    • beantownbaker — March 9th, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

      Bummer. It is a somewhat item to find in the store…

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    Jessica — March 18, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I’m totally inspired by this cake. It’s so beautiful! I want to make it later this week for my birthday! I was thinking of filling it with Apricot Jam though… Do you think I could try to make a curd from the jam, rather than the fruit puree you used? Or would it be fine to simply fill it with the jam?? I appreciate your opinion on this!! Thanks :-)

    • beantownbaker — March 18th, 2013 @ 10:59 am

      I’m not sure that making the curd from jam would work. I think I’d just use the jam as-is. Let me know how it turns out for you!

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    Judith — April 23, 2013 at 5:57 am

    I made this cake on the weekend for my daughter’s birthday in pink ombre. Not only did it look amazing, it was seriously the yummiest cake I’ve ever tasted. Your instructions were spot on and so easy to follow. The measurements were exact and it all came together beautifully! Thank you so much for sharing.

    PS I couldn’t get the passionfruit puree either but used lemon curd, which worked wonderfully.

    • beantownbaker — April 23rd, 2013 @ 7:46 am

      So glad you enjoyed the cake and the instructions were helpful for you! Happy birthday to your daughter :)

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    ADR — April 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Hi,

    I plan on making this for my daughter’s baptism in June – just a quick question – do you think white roses would have worked on the top of the cake?

    Thanks!

    Anna

    • beantownbaker — April 25th, 2013 @ 7:44 am

      Definitely! You could do it in all white or any gradient of colors you want. Let me know how it goes.

  10. #
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    Deb — May 22, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    Hi,
    I wanted to do this cake idea in a ’1′ shape cake tin for my daughters first birthday. Do you think it would be too difficult? Also, do you reduce the cooking time by a quarter if you are doing 4 layers? Thanks in advance!

    • beantownbaker — June 10th, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

      Sorry for not responding sooner, I didn’t see this comment until now…

      I’ve never baked this cake in a shaped cake tin. Are there instructions for baking times with the tin? If you already made this, how did it turn out?

  11. #
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    Carole — May 30, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Jen, spectacular. Thanks for joining the cake extravaganza. Cheers

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    sashy — June 20, 2013 at 2:01 am

    Hii … I really falling in love with your purple ombre cake, wanna make it for my birthday but I am little bit confuse with the baking time, if we use 9inch baking pan, how long we need to bake it and in what temperature? Thank you

    • beantownbaker — June 20th, 2013 @ 7:00 am

      If you follow the link for the White Cupcakes in the recipe, it says to bake the cake layers for 23-25 minutes at 350.

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    ADR — June 23, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Hi! I made this cake this weekend for my daughter’s baptism – it turned out pretty good! It didn’t look quite as good as yours….but it wasn’t too shabby! Did it in shades of purple too as my daughter’s name is ‘Violet’! THANKS for the inspiration! Would post a picture but there doesn’t seem to be that option here.

    • beantownbaker — June 24th, 2013 @ 7:23 am

      So glad you enjoyed the recipe! There is no way to post a picture on here, but I’d love to see it! Feel free to post it on my Facebook page!

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    Sharon Athanasiou — August 24, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    May I ask what tip you used to pipe these roses?

    • beantownbaker — August 25th, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

      I use a large star tip. I’m not at home right now to get the exact number of it… Also, I made a video about how to pipe a rose here

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    Najia — August 27, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    I made an ombre cake (pink and purple) twice by using your white chocolate buttercream recipe. I cut the powdered sugar to three cups instead of five since most desserts are just too sweet. I used a different white cake recipe and instead of the passion fruit curd, I used a Swiss meringue buttercream as a replacement. I get rave reviews from the decoration (nice tip) and surprisingly, so easy to make the rosettes. It’s true, best to invest in a cake decorating turn table. Thank you for posting this recipe and doing a DIY video, really helped!

    • beantownbaker — August 28th, 2013 @ 7:27 am

      Thanks so much for the note. Glad to hear the video helped. The rose covered cake is such a statement that really isn’t very difficult to execute.

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    Amanda — November 23, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Thanks so much for using the Rose technique that I created and originally shared on my blog in 2011. Please do feel free to reference my blog when talking about the Rose Cake. http://iambaker.net/rose-cake-tutorial/
    I am sure you can understand why I would ask that, as I know you would want to be credited if someone took an idea of yours and blogged about it. Thanks!

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    Leslie Allo — February 18, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Which tip did you use to make this cake?

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    Anty — April 18, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Hi,
    I’m thinking to make this cake for my niece’s birthday but I’m wondering if there’s possible to decorate from the top to bottom.
    I hate the thought wasting icing if I have to make three different shades from the start. If I could start from the top with white (or the ligthtest) and gradually add more colour for the next row.
    Please let me know what you think.
    Thanks.
    Ant.

    • beantownbaker — April 18th, 2014 @ 10:41 am

      I think that would work just fine. Great idea to frost it from the top down. I’ll definitely do that next time.

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    AAR — April 18, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    What tip do you use to make the roses?

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    SAJ — July 10, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    After making the curd, when do you use it when assembling the cake?

    • beantownbaker — September 2nd, 2014 @ 7:22 pm

      The curd goes between the layers of cake.

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