Lauren’s sister asked us to do a pink and purple ombre-frosted cake with buttercream roses and cake pull* charms. Buttercream roses? No problem. Ombre frosting? Not too hard, we can manage. Even the cake pull would be a cinch, since we did it for Jackie’s bridal shower cake a couple years back. The only catch was the cake itself: Lauren wanted a half brownie, half blondie cake.
*If you’re not familiar with cake pulls, Haydel Bakery offers a great history of this Southern tradition on its blog.
We’ve made brownies and blondies as bars many times before. But there’s a ton of variation from recipe to recipe. Most cake recipes will yield a pretty similar finished product, but brownies and blondies can range in density and texture, from fluffy and cake-like, to dense and chewy. Our challenge, therefore, was to find the two perfect recipes to produce brownies and blondies with close enough textures that they made sense as a single dessert.
Since neither of us is a professionally trained baker (oops), I tried to think back to my days as a food studies minor at NYU. We spent a good six weeks of one class learning all about baking and the different textures produced by different orders and combinations of ingredients. I wish I could tell you that I remembered a random nugget of information that would help me, but it was actually the undisputed king of food science, Alton Brown, who came to our rescue.
Alton’s cocoa brownies have always been my go-to scratch brownie recipe. They’re rich and fudgy, but not so much that you feel like you’re eating an actual piece of fudge. So I started looking at blondie recipes that had similar proportions of fat/sugar to flour, in the hopes that they’d have approximately the same consistency. After scanning through a handful of Google search results pages, I took a chance on these blondies from Taste of Home.
We cooked a tiny bit of each batter in mini loaf pans so we could taste it and make sure it worked. By sheer dumb luck, we hit the jackpot, and the brownie and blondie ended up working really well together.
With baking complete, we mixed up our colored buttercream and started piping. To really get the ombre effect, we started with a base frosting of very light pink, and added color to it as we went. We refilled the piping bag with the new colors as we mixed them, so it would blend with the previous color’s leftovers. I wrote a little more about the process on the TMST blog, if you’re interested.
We ended up with a beautiful, decadent and totally delicious cake. 10/10, would make this again. Anyone need a brownie/blondie cake? 🙂