Recipes

german chocolate cake + a wedding cake

Many years ago, with absolutely no experience or clue, I made a wedding cake for friends. It was fun and I learned a lot, but in the end declared it “fully out of my system.” Apparently, 9 years is the statute of limitations on such claims, which is how it came to pass that when one of my oldest friends asked me to make his wedding cake, the words “that would be so much fun!” flew out of my mouth before anyone could talk me out of it. Would you like to come along for the ride?


Let’s talk about GCC.

The last time I made a wedding cake, the bride loved vanilla and coconut and lime and mango and the groom loved chocolate above all else. Because the wedding was relatively small (under 100), I decided to make both (the largest tier in chocolate and the smaller two in vanilla) everyone had a taste of each. This time, one groom loves peach and blueberry pie, and the other has a thing for things like chocolate and salted caramel; I could never choose between the two either but with a much larger headcount (180 invited), it had to be done. It was made easier when we were brainstorming one night and they announced they both loved German Chocolate Cake. Crisis, averted. Or, at least this one.

Not that I’ve ever made or tasted a German Chocolate Cake before, and so I began with some research. Did you know that German chocolate cake isn’t German? If written correctly, it’s actually “German’s” chocolate cake, as in, named after a guy (Samuel) with the last name German. He developed the baking chocolate in 1852 that now goes by Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate. In 1957, 105 years later, Wikipedia tells us that The Dallas Morning News printed a recipe for German’s Chocolate Cake that was created by Mrs. George Clay, a homemaker, which became wildly popular. General Foods, which owned the Baker’s brand at the time, took notice and distributed the cake recipe to other newspapers in the country. At some point, the possessive (German’s) was dropped, leading to all sorts of confusion.

Traditionally, it’s a fairly fluffy mildly chocolate layer cake with a caramel-y custard filling with pecans and coconut. While in many cases, the “back of the box” recipes aren’t exactly considered the best in category, in this case, the one on the Baker’s German Chocolate box is in fact the original, and the gold standard. So, my research began there, and also by picking up slices from a couple bakeries in the city…

You guys, I hated them all. True, it’s just not my favorite (or ever 10th favorite) cake. True, it’s not my wedding, it needn’t be my favorite cake. But even though I knew a coconut pecan custard filling and a pale-ish chocolate cake was never going to make me swoon, I still knew that there had to be ways to get more flavor from them and the grooms were all for it. (I also called in my friend Molly for tastings, as this is her favorite cake and I knew she wouldn’t mince words if my version veered from the platonic ideal of what the cake could be.)

The test version we liked the most, not fully shown here, ended up with bittersweet chocolate instead of “German’s,” some hot coffee to (instead of hot water) give it oomph and some cocoa powder replacing some of the flour to give it a little more chocolate gravitas. To maximize the flavor impact of every part of the filling, I reduced the sugar, swapped in some brown sugar for white, deeply toasted the pecans, lightly toasted the coconut, increased the salt and then, I mean, of course I did, I browned the butter. Here, it makes everything better.

first whip the egg whitesadd liquid to butter-sugar-yolk mixture
folding in the egg whitesready to bake
domed from the oven layercooled, delated layer
making the pecan-coconut custardfilling german chocolate cake

Wedding cake-ing it

I won’t lie, as a wedding cake, it’s not the easiest choice namely because there are so many processes, from melting chocolate, separating eggs, whipping the whites separately, sifting cocoa (mine is always lumpy), and that’s just the cake. The filling, especially the way we preferred it, is full of extra steps (toasting the butter, pecans, and coconut, and more separated eggs), plus it needs to be cooked and cooled. Fortunately, decor-wise, nobody was looking for anything too floofy or traditional, they had no wedding “colors” and we all liked the rustic look of a “naked” (no frosting on the sides) cake. Inspired by Molly Yeh’s stunning forays in to buttercream flower gardens, I figured the relatively absence of other decor would leave me lots of time to try my (way less practiced) hand at something like that for the top. (Stop laughing, quit it, I can hear you.)

After endless staring at wedding cake guides, measuring my oven and weeks of boring hemming and hawing, I concluded that the best way to serve the 140 guests (although this technically could serve 170, I wanted to play it safe because this is not a cake that would cut cleanly plus you lose slices to dowels and more) was with a 14, 12, and 10-inch tier. This was exactly 48 hours before I began baking the cake. Are you getting stressed out reading this yet?

The schedule

Herein lies my best-laid plan:

Saturday: Hit up the baking supply store for cake pans, boards, a cake box, dowels, extra piping bags, a few extra piping tips and a bunch of floral-ish food colors.
Sunday: Lay out the recipe in a spreadsheet to scale it up and finish buying groceries.
Monday and Tuesday: Bake cake layers, freeze them off, wrap them in plastic.
Wednesday: Make filling
Thursday: Fill layers and dowel cake, begin decorations.
Friday: Stack cake, finish decorating and go go go.

It sounds so organized, right?

Here’s what actually went down:

Saturday: Nailed it. See? We’ve got this.

Sunday: My oven, which hasn’t been great at holding temperatures consistently over the last six months (basically an oven’s job, you could say) seemed to be on the verge of a full meltdown, and thus, so was I. I might have thrown a hissy. Plus: Groceries or as much as we could schlep and stuff under the stroller, which is to say, not all of them.

Monday morning: Back to the grocery store with a rather cranky toddler on a hot rainy day. When we returned, wet, sweaty and already exhausted, a guy was waiting outside my apartment to wheel an old (well, 2 months but it was ugly, dirty and smelled like onions and basically made me want to cry) oven from another apartment that was empty into mine. I glared at it. I resented it. I was so scared I’d be in for another dud but it turns out to work great and I kind of want to give it a biscuit for being such a good boy last week.

Monday afternoon: Baking actually begins. I get the 10-inch tier baked, frozen, then wrapped in a couple layers of plastic. Now that I’m in the swing of things, I’ll be faster tomorrow I told myself.

Tuesday morning: I decide I have time to go to the gym. I do not have time to go to the gym.

Tuesday afternoon: I only have time to bake the 14-inch tier. Each layer’s batter fills a full Kitchen Aid bowl, so I basically have to make the cake twice for each tier. I tried to combine what processes I could but it more often than not led to extra, not less, work such as when I had to then re-divide the buttermilk-chocolate-coffee mixture or rewhip whites because of course they half deflate in the time one layer bakes.

Wednesday morning and afternoon: I bake the 12-inch tier. Very behind schedule, I decide that if the filling for all three tiers will fit in one pot, I’ll make it all at once. 26 egg yolks, 1.5 pounds of brown butter, 2 quarts of half-and-half and 2 children hungry for dinner later, I got impatient for this 6-quart pot to cook and cranked it up. I scrambled the whole thing. It went in the garbage. I went back to the store.

Wednesday night: I made the filling in three batches, one for each tier, as slowly and carefully as a human has ever made anything. I finished up before midnight.

Thursday morning: Baby wakes up at 5 because of course she does. I get a late, sluggish start — but hey, filling cakes doesn’t take long, right? I take the cakes out of the freezer, hoping to work with them semi-defrosted (i.e. sturdier than room temperature but not too icy to cut).

Thursday late morning and afternoon: While trying to divide each of the cake layers into two thinner layers, I remembered why I absolutely hate splitting cake layers and almost always prefer to just bake them up thinner. This tender, soft, fluffy cake was a nightmare; it broke and broke. The filling for the bottom tier kept running out because I hadn’t dam-ed my layers. Jeez, it’s almost like this is why people leave wedding cakes to the professionals.

building a florals-not-found-in-nature garden

Thursday, 40 minutes before the kids get home: I decide it’s time to see if I still know how to make buttercream roses, my single piping skill. I watch a bunch of videos, realize there’s no way I’m going to learn anything new at this point and decide to pipe a collection of Florals Not Found In Nature, i.e. various piles of bloops and dollops and spirals in random colors. Possibly for the first time all week, it goes better than I expect. I freeze them on a tray overnight.

Thursday, 11p.m.: We’re about to go to bed and we realize that I might have some trouble doweling and stacking the cake — which has got to be 50 pounds — by myself the next day and do it right then. Remember when Thursday night was date night? Me neither.

Friday morning, somehow it’s 11am and I’m just getting started and we want to leave at 1 and also of course my weekend bag isn’t packed yet either: I arrange the pre-piped flowers all over and basically came up with a frosting hack I’ll now want to do forever involving one frosting bag and multiple tips to make pretty much every color and shape you see on the cake. Should I write it up sometime? I’m thinking about it, but this is already running very long.

Friday, 1pm: I totally botched this quote on Instagram Stories but I’ve always loved this line from Tina Fey about lessons she’d learned from Lorne Michaels in her SNL years:

The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s eleven-thirty.

Which is just to say that while I wondered if I should trim or frost the sides where the filling was leaky or add some chocolate frosting, as it’s traditional too, the cake was declared done because it was time to go. I think it was the right choice.

german chocolate wedding cake from above

What I’d do differently next time (just kidding, honey):

• Um, start a little earlier
• Um, probably not curdle the filling
• I’d pipe a ring around the filling in buttercream or more likely use this fudge buttercream and put the cake’s soft filling inside. It prevents leakage. I knew this technique 9 years ago but somehow forgot it until it was a bit too late.
• I don’t want to bore you with even more details, but when you’re baking a cake that’s 12″ or larger or deeper than 3″, it’s usually recommended that you do something to help distribute the heat. There are many techniques and tools (here’s a rough list); I picked a cake heating core. It was all wrong for this cake, I felt like the core never fit properly back in the cake or looked even. I would absolutely skip it next time, trying something else.
• Not cut the cakes into two thinner layers: While totally doable for this cake in a 6- or 9-inch size, it was bonkers to take on in 12″ and 14″ sizes. I would simply bake them up in thinner layers — it always looks nicer, anyway.

What I wouldn’t change at all: You you you you

Last week, I shared my process as “live” as possible on Instagram, something that isn’t my usual thing but I needed some other people to talk to about the mess I’d gotten myself into and you came through by the truckload. I loved all the messages I received and your cheering and excitement for the project, just like last time, plus sharing all of your own wedding cake stories made this 500 times more fun. Seriously. You are, as always, the very best part of this gig.

german chocolate (baby) cake

German Chocolate (Baby) Cake


This is the German Chocolate Cake recipe I used for the wedding cake, but reduced to a 6-inch round cake, as shown here. The cake is baked in two layers and each is split into two thinner layers (this is not hard on a 6- or 9-inch cake, promise). The filling covers four layers of cake, including the lid. The final cake will be 3 inches tall, which is thinner than the 4-inch tall cakes I used in the wedding cake, which also has a bare top to leave space for prettier decorations (more on that below).

Why 6-inch pans? They’re my favorite to test cakes in because they hold exactly half of a more standard 9-inch cake layer. They’re also delightful for tiny party cakes like this — they serve 6 to 8 in adorable slices. To make this into a more classically sized 9-inch round birthday cake, double everything.

Many German Chocolate Cakes have a ganache or dark chocolate frosting element. My favorite go-to chocolate buttercream is this; this volume could be used to thinly coat the sizes of the cake. Or, you could fully chill the cake and pour a drippy ganache over the top made from 1/4 cup heavy cream (I like to put 1/2 teaspoon of instant coffee or espresso granules in it) brought to a boil and poured over 4 ounces of dark chocolate chips. Let sit for a minute then stir until smooth before pouring.


    Cake
  • 2 ounces (55 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) hot coffee
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (70 grams) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • Just barely heaped 1/4 cup (22 grams) cocoa powder (any variety)
  • 3/4 cup (100 grams) all-purpose flour
  • Filling
  • 1 1/3 cups (3 1/2 ounces, or half of a 7-ounce bag) sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cups (80 grams) chopped pecans
  • 4 tablespoons (60 grams or 2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) half-and-half (or a mixture of 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup heavy cream)
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon dark rum

Make the cake: Line the bottoms of two 6-inch round cake pans with parchment paper — btw, I only have one and simply bake this half at a time so feel free to do the same — and coat the bottom and sides with butter or nonstick baking spray. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over, give it one minute, then whisk until smooth and chocolate is melted. Whisk in buttermilk; it might look gross, ignore it, it’s fine. Set aside.

Beat egg whites in a clean medium bowl with clean beaters until stiff. Set aside.

In a large bowl, use same beaters — no need to clean them, even — to beat butter, sugars and salt together until fluffy. Beat in yolks and vanilla until smooth, then buttermilk-coffee-chocolate mixture. Sprinkle baking soda over and beat in well to combine. Scrape down sides. Add cocoa powder and flour and beat until just combined. Fold/stir in a quarter of the egg whites to loosen batter. Fold in rest gently, just until no white spots remain.

Divide between baking pans. Bake for 24 to 26 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free. Immediately run a knife around the cake but cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the filling: Spread pecans out on one small tray and coconut on another. Bake in 350 degree oven until pecans are deeply toasted (10 to 15 minutes, but check at the early end) and coconut is lightly toasted on top (15 to 20 minutes, but check early as well), tossing them once or twice for even coloring. Let cool. I prefer the coconut less “stringy” and pulse it, once cool, a few times in a food processor to chop it further. Place pecans and coconut in a large bowl and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt butter and keep cooking after it has melted, stirring often, until it becomes toasty brown near the bottom of the pan and smells heavenly. Remove from heat, pour into a small dish to cool slightly and let saucepan cool before cooking filling.

Whisk egg yolks, half-and-half, sugars and salt together in empty saucepan until blended. Very slowly drizzle in semi-cooled browned butter, whisking the whole time. If your yolks and half-and-half were cold (which is fine), the butter might take on a clumpy appearance as it solidifies in the mixture; this is not a problem. Return saucepan to the stove and heat over medium-low, stirring the whole time so that it doesn’t scorch at the bottom, until the mixture is hot, steamy, and thick enough to coat a spoon. Learn from my lesson: Do not let it boil.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla (or vanilla and rum), then pour over bowl with pecans and coconut, stirring once to combine, and let filling cool before using. It will thicken up once cold.

Assemble cake: Using a sharp serrated knife, cut cooled cake layers into two thinner layers. Place the bottom of the first one on a cake plate or stand. Scoop 1/4 of the cooled filling (my quarters weights 112 grams each) into the center and use a knife or offset spatula to push it just to the edge. Repeat three times (I like to end with the bottom of the second cake as the “top” for a flat finish), placing the last layer of filling on the top.

To serve: Cut into wedges.

Do ahead: Keep cake in fridge until needed. I tested — because I wanted to make sure the cake would not dry out over the days I needed to make it for the wedding — and found that even a 5-day old version of this cake wasn’t bad at all. I.e. It keeps well.


How To Scale Up Cake Sizes, For Weddings and Beyond:

When I want to scale a cake from, say, a 6-inch round to a 9-inch round or a 6-inch round to 10-, 12- and 14-inch rounds, I do it by the bottom area of the cake pan, not the volume of the batter, because my goal is to keep the cake thicknesses the same.

For example, a 6-inch cake has a bottom area of 28.3 square inches, a 9-inch (63.5), 10-inch (78.5), 12-inch (113), 14-inch (153.9). Want to turn a 6-inch cake into a 14-inch cake? You’re going to want to multiply every ingredient by 5.4. [Except the baking time. It’s often closer to the original than you’d expect, and rarely more than double.]

I then use those numbers to figure out how many full and partial batches of my recipe I’ll need. If you’re good with spreadsheets or married to someone who is, this can make it easy.

I know what you’re going to ask next: Deb, what do I do with 2.86 egg yolks? And the answer is, you go with your gut. I actually leave my recipes in weird fractions so I don’t overthink it before I start. For 2.86, I’m going to round up. But if I need .55 cups of flour, I’ll probably just heap the 1/2-cup slightly. (Or use weights, of course. With weights, this stuff is 10 times easier and there’s no such thing as a weird number.)

But to make things even more complicated, the cake as written is a 3-inch tall cake, a perfect size for a rich layer cake. But wedding cake tiers should generally be at least 4 inches tall. To get this to 4-inches tall, before I did any other math, I increased the cake recipe by 1/3. But not the filling. Because the filling already covered 4 cake tops, and I only needed it to cover 3 for the final cake, as I planned to use buttercream for the decorations, I didn’t increase the filling by 1/3 before scaling up the recipe to the other cake sizes. I just redistributed the 4 layers of filling over 3.

If you’ve got any questions, bring them on!

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273 comments on german chocolate cake + a wedding cake

    1. yasmara

      Oh wow, all of this…what @Sallyt said.

      The best German(‘s) Chocolate Cake I’ve ever had is at Cafe Latte in St Paul, MN. I love it, but have never attempted it at home – it’s our anniversary next week, maybe this should be on the menu!

      1. findingmykd

        YASMARA. I was just going to say this. So so so true.

        And Deb, it’s okay, you can have their turtle cake, with some chicken wild rice soup on me next time you visit Minnesota. I loved your stories, loved getting to see what was up, and your adventures. You were brave and did something courageous and fun. Well done you!

  1. What a beautiful cake! Those most be some incredible friends. I know someone who made a wedding cake once and did so many test batches that didn’t work out well, that someone whispered into her ear that boxed cakes work just as well and no one would know. And no one did know. A smashing success.

    I’m so impressed at the entire process, and somehow mothering two children, squeezing in a trip to the gym, and not losing your mind.

    A naked cake really looks good here, and I’m wondering how this trend started – if it was the eater or baker who just couldn’t anymore.

    1. deb

      I feel like the naked cake trend might have been around longer, but definitely Christina Tosi and Milk Bar made it blow up.

      And thank you but I have help — babysitters, day camps, and above all else, a saint of a spouse that probably handles 75% of everything when he’s home (and possibly 98% last week). Sure, they overlap and hey, sometimes I get a post up on Wednesday instead of Tuesday because the babysitter is sick, but I’m definitely not usually doing all things — writing books and posts and articles, responding to comments and emails, cooking, piping buttercream flowers — exactly at once. And that was the single time I got to the gym last week, possibly needless to say.

  2. Sarah

    OMG Deb, pour yourself a nice whiskey lemonade situation and pat yourself on the back for this! Also, the baker we hired for my wedding was lovely and professional, and quit the week before my wedding. The result? Delicious cakes but a groom’s cake that was literally covered in brown frosting, sans decoration (thanks for not passing along your drawings, former baker lady), thus rendering itself a ‘poop’ colored cake, as one nephew declared. So there’s that.

  3. Elizabeth

    Aaaaaahhhhhh curdling all that filling!!! This is reminding me of the time I made a massive cheesecake on Christmas eve, but unbeknownst to me, the rack in my oven had been inserted backward (or was it upside down?), so when I went to remove the cheesecake around 11pm, it slid backward and flipped upside down, covering the heating elements in hot cheesecake goo and ruining Christmas.

    I actually like your decorations even more than the original! Beautiful job. I know it’s gauche, but I wouldn’t mind learning what you spent on all those ingredients!

    1. deb

      Not nearly as much as expected, to be honest. I found coconut and flour on Amazon for barely half of what I pay in NYC, and got all the butter, eggs, cocoa powder, bar chocolate, and cream at Trader Joe’s. My husband’s mile-long grocery order was like $55. I don’t think the ingredients have to be crazy expensive — it’s the labor. :)

  4. Emily

    Lovely! I do have a question, which recipe did you use for your buttercream florals? It seems like structurally they have held up really well, mine tend to go a bit soft. I am trying to stick with an “all-butter” cream, but am considering changing it up a bit to get something with a bit more stability. Thank you!

    1. deb

      I used a basic buttercream (except I use way less sugar than the box recommends): 1/2 cup almost-soft unsalted butter + 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar + tiny pinch of fine salt + 1/2 teaspoon vanilla blended in a food processor until smooth. I find the food processor whips less air in. We don’t want bubbles for decoration. (If using a hand-mixer, you can reduce the speed to low at the end for a similar effect.) I add usually just 1 tablespoon of milk, half-and-half or cream. Use less for a stiffer icing (i.e. none) and more for a looser one (of course, not ideal for piping shapes). I probably only needed 3x this for this cake, but ended up making 6x (half for the night-before flowers, half to finish) because I decided I’d rather have a ton of extra than even come close to running out. Ain’t nobody got time for that. ;)

      1. Rachel M

        I needed this recipe for my son’s birthday cake I am making next week. We make the same type of frosting but I like your addition of salt and less milk. Thanks!

  5. Anon for this, because I can’t bear for certain friends to know they hurt my feelings inadvertantly

    Deb, in your two wedding cake forays, you’ve done right both times the thing I’ve learned the hard way:

    Couples will think that they’re saving you work/taking the pressure off by letting their caterer talk them into having a dessert table so you don’t have to make as much cake. The problem is that caterers never give your cake, a cake made in the spirit of love and friendship, not a commercial endeavour, the respect it deserves. And then your heart hurts because people are not eating your cake, frequently because the caterer isn’t cutting it in reasonable sized slices and it’s so much easier to grab a plate of a variety of pre-portioned tiny desserts, or worse, they’re leaving your cake on display all night long as a center piece while people get their fill of sugar from the catered desserts.

    I’ve made cakes for friends’ wedding a handful of times by now, and it’s never served as the sole dessert. However, the times when the other desserts were also friend-made, my, and their desserts were devoured. The times where there was a caterer provided dessert table, it was just sad, and I know not agree to that any more.

    1. deb

      I am not sure if you’re the person who sent me a note last week, but first, I’m sorry, and second, I totally get it. I have definitely had mini-fits before if a sheet cake is ordered (for example) for a party where I’m asked to bring a cake (“so there’s more cake for everyone”). I bet this is a subject many will want to weigh in on.

      In general, I’m with you. I think a dessert table (tiny cookies or chocolates; this wedding had cute little ice cream popsicles and cups of funnel cake, because it was at the shore, and both were awesome and stole no thunder and also I still like them both more than GCC, shh) is fine and standard at a wedding or big party but if you ask someone to make something from scratch, it should be allowed to be the star, at least in that category.

      1. No name this time

        I can relate to this… was asked to bring 2 cakes to a family party.. ( one gluten free.) it took time and love, and then someone shows up with a sheet cake from Costco ! Grrr. It was so much fun watching you, and rooting for you, and worrying about your curdled filling. Your husband is a pearl beyond price. If my husband goes to the store for 2 items, one of them is wrong even if we have had fourteen calls from the grocery store. You are sure gonna deserve your vacation.

        1. Jen

          At the risk of sounding martyr-ish and repetitive…I can completely understand this tiny sub-thread. Where do I start? The time I made a HUGE (24×12 double layer) chocolate cake, filled with fresh raspberry compote I made with raspberries purchased at the farmers market, covered with rich ganache for my uncle’s retirement, and my cousins showed up with a triple layer grocery store white cake with frosting made from crisco. OR the time I made 200 cupcakes (4 different kinds ranging from carrot cake with cream cheese frosting to lemon filled with fresh lemon curd topped with Swiss meringue to confetti with buttercream to chocolate with ganache, all intricately decorated, only to have the caterers bring out a trays of previously frozen Italian Christmas cookies. Sigh…

    2. Sow

      I totally agree with you but for parties and potlucks (I can barely bake a sheet cake with basic frosting, leave alone a wedding cake.. ha!).. I used to sign up to bring desserts and spend a lot of effort making them but then people show up with store bought desserts or bright colored cookies and I end up with a pan of brownies made with the most expensive cocoa/chocolate in the house! I would happily take it home and devour it myself if I didn’t feel tacky doing it

      1. wendalette

        Hahaha! You exactly that kind of tacky. “Oh, so ya’ll didn’t want it? More for me! Now I don’t even have to share!”

          1. Sow

            Lol.. I do try to sneak some home as part of the “taking leftovers home” ritual at the end. Now I just stick to easy effortless items like juice boxes, salads etc. so I don’t have to feel bad at then end :)

    3. Cara Queen

      I totally agree and will add: One of the best big-hearted wedding that I attended had 6 different wedding cakes! All homemade and delicious with decorations as interpreted by each baker. How did this come about? Each of the grooms asked their three best baking buddies to make a regular-sized cake -thus saving the stress of making enough cake for 80 people, providing 6 different flavours AND giving their amazing friends an opportunity to contribute in an individual way.

      Next big party -that’s my plans!

      1. Bridgit

        Cara Queen, this sounds like so much fun, and gives everyone something to talk about, which I find oddly lacking at weddings sometimes.

  6. Bri

    Loved following along in the process last week and yes, I was stressed with how it was going! I was a reader way back when you attempted a wedding cake the first time… :) Glad it turned out! You are such a good friend!

  7. I’m still in awe of how the flowers look on this cake – it just really put it over the top – so colorful on that brown cake. You totally rocked it. And I’d love to hear the frosting idea!

  8. I firmly believe that German chocolate cake is about the coconut-pecan topping, not the cake, so I make devil’s food. Or I put the topping on ice cream, or graham crackers, or eat it with a spoon…

    1. Susan Wilmath

      I completely agree with Marianneeileen! I always make a dark chocolate cake to go with the coconut pecan frosting. I put GCC in the same category as red velvet (I don’t understand the fuss). I am not a frosting person except for that one and totally eat it with a spoon.

  9. Cadie

    I need more details on the florals. INCREDIBLE! Also, coincidentally, I made MY FIRST EVER German Chocolate Cake for my Dad’s 68th Birthday this past weekend. I checked your site for a recipe, but alas, you were holding this one in your pocket. Mine turned out pretty tasty too. But I did have to make the cake part twice after turning them out while still hot (ROOKIE MISTAKE). Anyway, next time (if there is a next time), I know where to come first.

  10. Gerley

    Not sure if it’s just me but I actually love your longer posts! Sure I will never ever make buttercream flowers but I sure as hell want to know how to make them. I don’t like pecans or coconut so wedding cake or not I won’t make this cake but I read the whole post and followed the story on Instagram…it’s just you, Deb!!

    1. Paula

      Ditto! I do make a LOT of SK recipes, and many of them are favorites in my household; but there are plenty of times when I’m here just for the reading. I’d much rather consume a well-told story of someone else’s wedding-cake-baking than attempt the feat myself.

      1. Julia

        Ditto Gerley & Paula! I absolutely love reading & learning from your triumphs & foibles, Deb. Mostly I love your writing voice. It’s so reassuring that a woman with Such Organizational Skills still owns up to the “what really happened part.” Plus you’re just really a hoot. Thanks for everything you do for all of us!!!

        1. Gitty

          Same same same. I read every post religiously and check the site daily to see if something new is up for three years now. I’ve made the garlic bread, cocoa brownies, I want chocolate cake, chocolate peanut brittle (all excellent and repeats) and… that’s it. I’m here for the food stories, people!

            1. Gloria

              i loved watching you on Instagram and was just stunned at your courage. I had to lie down after reading all you did. With children. I think you are really smart and fearless. Thank you!

    2. Charlotte in Toronto

      I agree with all of these comments. I love reading your posts even if I don’t make what ever the recipe is. You’re a beautiful writer and I enjoy it tremendously. I so enjoyed the Instagram story. Thank you for inviting us into your kitchen during such a stressful week. We love you❤

  11. sshapiro87

    I just want to say that watching the instagram stories literally made my week. To the point where I kept opening up instagram to follow along, and my fiance knew all about the journey. The cake turned out BEAUTIFULLY. You are amazing and an awesome friend!! Thank you for sharing everything with us :)

  12. Ella

    Watching this in the live instagram stories was a treat. I found myself going back to instagram to see how you were doing, and turned me friend (who’s baking our cutting cake for our wedding!) onto the stream as well.

    I’ve always found your recipes to be so accurate and well tested, but it was great to see you being a human baker, just like all of us, looking like me on day 2 of Seder prep when I’m freaking out.

    Thank you!!

  13. I feel like I need a nap after reading that epic cake story! So glad it worked out well / you saved it. We are always our own worst critics so relax, be calm.

    I work as a cake decorator and I just remind myself at crazy times “it’s just cake”. It’s not rocket science or the cure for cancer. It will be okay.

  14. Courtney

    I loved watching your Stories come together! The cake was beautiful. Do you think you could make some videos about frosting and piping flowers? I make my daughter’s birthday cake every year (she’s a few months older than yours!) and I’d love to practice making flowers.

  15. Rocky Mountain Woman

    Absolutely lovely!

    I have catered several weddings for friends but only once tried to make the cake also. The cake took more time than all of the rest of the food!

    RMW

  16. Beth

    Just wanted to say the cake looks beautiful and I’m excited to make a (tiny) one at home! Your insta stories were great as well–would love more of them even on your other projects for the site!

  17. Alice K.

    I loved your telling of how/how not to make the wedding cake! My favorite wedding cake story is a small one: At my son’s wedding years ago, in late August, on a hot afternoon, the wedding cake leaned over like the Tower of Pisa (from the heat, was our guess). The caterer was besides himself! We all laughed; the cake never actually fell over, and we all danced and ate and had a great time. We have pictures of the Leaning Tower of Ben and Elana’s Wedding Cake, which we recall fondly.

  18. NJ cook

    OMG re: wedding cake…gotta say, call a bakery. Hope you will post photos of the cake in situ being appreciated, sliced, eaten, etc.

    I made a German’s Sweet Chocolate cake for my in-laws many decades ago (was it his birthday? Father’s Day?) only to be informed upon my serving it that my F-I-L hated coconut. I was so spooked that I never made that kind of cake again.

  19. I made this – just kidding!
    Deb, you are wonderfully crazy and I adore your flower decorations. Baby wakes up at 5, I know what you are talking about… ok in summer, torture in winter. N xx

  20. I think a lot of the work on the filling could be done ahead. The pecans & coconut definitely could be toasted ahead. And since clarified butter can be frozen, I see no reason why the browned butter couldn’t also be made ahead & frozen.

    And if you ever make another wedding cake (you do have a daughter), Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible has everything the ambitious home baker needs to know to tackle a wedding cake, including the formulas for large layers (turns out they need less leaven so they have more structure & don’t fall)

    1. Cris S.

      My mom wanted to cater my wedding. My dad insisted that paying for catering would be cheaper than paying to put my mom in the loony bin after. Don’t make your child’s wedding cake!

      1. Rebecca

        We catered our own wedding (just us and our immediate families in our living room). It was really lovely and I think was less stressful than dealing with caterers.

    2. deb

      Absolutely. I had browning the butter and toasting the coconut and nuts on my “get ahead” list but lols, never actually had any pockets of time at the end of the day. The filling can absolutely be made in advance and is better for it; why be impatient for it to cool and thicken.

  21. Nikki

    What a wonderous cake. Well done. Absolutely love the vibrant colours of the buttercream flowers, its beautiful and sounds delicious. Please share a picture of the grooms enjoying your lovely cake.

  22. Jennifer

    When I was in high school, my sisters, my mom, and I took an introductory cake decorating course. I have done very little cake decorating or piping since then, but your buttercream flowers make me want to take a crack at it again! I loved following along with your process on Instragram – thank you for sharing!

  23. Kaite

    Deb, this is amazing. I LOVED watching your stories last week. It was so fun and I was in such awe. The flowers were so freaking beautiful on the brown cake!!

    I, too, really enjoy your long posts like this. I know it’s not practical for all the time, but when they do pop up I just love them. Also, I would be SO interested in a buttercream/piping tutorial and tips post.

    So I have always ignored GCC bc I hate coconut – especially the texture. But I do enjoy the *other* flavors of GCC very much. Say I wanted to make this and omit the coconut… does anyone know if the filling would still work? and if the flavor would be good? In my head the flavor still totally works. But maybe it needs the coconut for stability?

    1. Alice

      My husband is also a coconut hater but LOVES GCC–it’s his favorite, in fact. He didn’t even know there was coconut in the frosting. Honestly, with all the other strong flavors in there, the coconuttyness is totally masked. Maybe just make a small batch to give it a try? It might surprise you!

      1. Kaite

        Oh, I’ve had GCC plenty of times. It’s mainly the texture of the coconut I hate. The flavor is fine, and, like you said, often is not that important with all the other flavors. But I can not with the coconut texture.

        1. i made this two ways–9″ layer cake and 24 cupcakes (both were double this recipe). I made each cake and filling separately. Both times I fretted over the filling (I actually used the saute function on my instant pot to make sure the heat was really consistent and because it was a better size than my sauce pans) being too loose and if anything it was a little thick (hard to spread over the delicate cake) one layer sunk and that was a struggle because when I cut it in half the top basically had a hole in the middle and it lost some shape. Otherwise it tasted and looked great. I made one mistake that was actually two mistakes–I made the ganache to the proportions here (meant for the 6″) and so I had enough for the top but it didn’t have the drippy sides I wanted. This mistake was compounded because I made cupcakes for the kids (this was a birthday party for my 4yo w approximately 20 adults and 20 kids) and the cake looked like it had chocolate frosting not the highly suspect brown with weird bits (my neighbors son was like “no! That is vegetables!”) frosting the cupcakes had and this caused some cake time drama. Perhaps this was an ambitious choice for children but I liked it 😂😂.

          Also the hardest part was definitely deciding when the filling was cooked enough to thicken properly. I think my second batch (for cupcakes) turned out the right consistency for them but if I was filling a layer cake again I would make it a bit looser.

    2. deb

      Thanks so much, re the longer post. I don’t always need to but it’s nice to know you all are tolerant because while I know better writing is usually shorter (I keep most at 3 to 4 paragraphs of text, maybe 500-600 words), I just couldn’t whittle this post down much further (I really tried!) without losing what I wanted to say. Glad to know it doesn’t make everyone run off.

  24. That is a beautiful cake (and you are a brave and devoted friend). I have to confess that although I usually love all things chocolate, I am not the biggest fan of German Chocolate Cake.

    A couple typos early in the post corrected in brackets below (forgive my inner editor):

    While in many cases, the “back of the box” recipes aren’t exactly considered the best in category, in this cake, the [one] on the Baker’s German Chocolate box [is] in fact the original, and the gold standard.

  25. Michele

    The cakes looks beautiful and I am in complete awe of you and your effort. And this just reminded me why I am not a baker. Round about Tuesday afternoon in your account I was stressing just reading this. Not sure how you got to the end, in one piece, with such a gorgeous creation, but you did! And with a little person in tow……
    Brilliant work!

  26. Liz

    Deb, the cake looks great!

    I bake half-sheet cakes for our synagogue, and the chocolate cake recipe I use (Hershey’s, surprisingly enough) is a super liquidy batter that domes really bad. I bought these heating cores (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0061UGRIC/ref=twister_B00P9MBYAO?_encoding=UTF8&th=1) and they’ve been great! I just coat them with cooking spray when I spray the pans. I freeze the layers, turn them upside down to remove the parchment and the cores, and they’re ready to go. I’ve used 4 on a half sheet (in a diamond pattern) and they don’t eliminate the dome but they minimize it significantly. Might be worth a try, especially since they’re easy to store.

  27. Grace

    Deb..after all this testing and organizing and baking and decorating and delivering, how’d it go over? Did they love it? Did the guests ask if you catered and wanted your card (And did you choke out a NO)? Did you go through the garbage to see how much ended up there? We want to know if you can’t hear the critics through all the applause! Do tell.

      1. Sow

        I was going to ask you the same question. After obsessively following your stories and leaving lengthy (and sometimes threatening) comments, am curious to know how it was received, specially by the couple. Because if someone (with kids!) went through a 10 day process to make this monster of a cake for me, I’d be indebted to them for life!

        1. deb

          I mean, they loved it and made a big fuss over it but it’s also their day and I definitely didn’t want attention on me. I think — and I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to word this since I read your comment, hence the slower response — that when a project is this big and it’s a favor, you have to do it primarily because don’t mind/want to do it or it doesn’t work and you’ll end up feeling grumpy about it because projects like this always take longer and more work than we anticipate. I don’t mean this as a look-how-generous-I-am thing, I mean it as a heads-up before anyone takes it on, that if there’s that chance that there’s no level of thank you that could, say, balance out the labor, it’s good to know this going in.

          1. Sow

            That makes sense :) I feel embarrassed knowing the groom’s mom and potentially the grooms are reading this post and maybe the comments and will probably think am a brat for asking if they gave you enough credit for your masterpiece. I promise I was just conveying (albeit poorly) how much in awe I was of your patience and persistence.

            1. deb

              I didn’t mean it that way at all. I genuinely want to warn any potential wedding cake-bakers out there that I know that it’s hard to balance, say, a week’s work with a thank you (even a genuine, well-spoken one) so the project needs to be somewhat personal in nature — something you enjoy doing, that you want to do — above all.

  28. Caroline L

    Deb, I loved watching your instastories last week! It was so fun to follow along as you were doing this. And you were so sweet to reply to my comment too, in the midst of a crazy busy week! The cake turned out beautiful – congratulations! I’d love the tutorial on the flowers.

  29. Miriam Mc Nally

    Wow, just WOW!!!
    Chocolate cake is my absolute favourite, always has been.
    I’m gonna make this as my birthday cake for a ‘big’ birthday in November, thanks for the idea, and the decos are fab!
    1 question: how do you stay sane and do this, with 2 small kids?

  30. Meg

    Deb, what a beautiful cake and a lovely gesture! I’ve heard good things about using flower nails in lieu of a heating core – you put 1-3 (depending on size) in your cake pan flat side down, pour the batter over them, and then pull them out from the bottom after turn out the layers. Maybe that would be worth a try next time?

    1. deb

      Yesss, that’s definitely one of the things I read about after I was cursing the purchase of a heating core (which, by the way, I also purchased last time, never used, and got rid of in a Marie Kondo fit because why would I make another wedding cake? lols). Seems much simpler.

  31. Ruth

    I am the designated birthday cake baker for my family, and german chocolate is the ONLY cake I am allowed to bake for my mother, father, and brother. All three birthdays also happen to fall within three weeks of one another, so I get to spend a lot of time with these flavors each spring. Other than some long-ago misguided attempts at cutting back on the butter, I’ve generally stuck within the basic boundaries of the “box” recipe for the frosting (though I believe my family’s copy is actually from a wrinkled and splattered 80s magazine ad for one of the ingredients).

    The actual cake has been much more open to change and experimentation (and failure). It’s taken quite some time to find a chocolate cake that pairs exactly right with the sweet, sweet filling, but my family and I seemed to have reached a consensus: one bowl (melted butter) chocolate cake, with coffee and melted dark chocolate in the batter. One year, for my Dad’s cake, I tried throwing the frosting on a nice, buttery yellow cake. It was too much! Too buttery! Too salty! Too sweet! Chocolate cake* is the only way.

    All this to say, while I can’t bear to make another this year, when the next Season of German Chocolate rolls around, I will have to give this recipe a another look! I am impressed that you found a way to classily decorate it that didn’t simple involve adding more brown.

    *I do have some fondness for the tooth-achingly sweet German Chocolate Pie from Mollie Cox Bryan’s excellent “Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies.”

  32. Olivia

    Wow. So beautiful, must comment. And cheers to making a yummy german chocolate cake. Would not be my top pick either but I am intrigued.

  33. Martha Riddle

    This is the cake my husband always requests for his birthday. He’s agreed to try your new and improved version. Will let you know the results!

  34. That cake is gorgeous.
    The account of how you worked through this was highly entertaining. Although it made me tired just to vicariously live through it with you. I wouldn’t have taken it with as much humor, so kudos.

  35. waywardbloggers

    What a beautiful cake! The funny thing about these cakes is that they often seem so simple to others once assembled. It’s almost frustrating when people don’t instantly see the hard work, blood, sweat, and manymany tears that go into building a cake. I never know whether to just accept it and pretend that I made it effortlessly or shake them and say “NEVER AGAIN DO YOU KNOW WHAT I’VE DONE FOR YOU” over and over.

  36. Kim

    This recipe looks so delicious! Definitely have to try this recipe out as soon as possible. Thanks for the share, love checking out your blog.

  37. What I want to know is how you transported it to the wedding location. You discussed that in the post from 9 years ago, so I’m curious about this time.

    I don’t know what I think about the nude sides, and also about the whole GCC concept, but the flowers on top are simply gorgeous. Very well done Deb!

    And I haven’t followed your Insta stories, so I don’t know the details beyond this post, but I’m quite certain that Alex is an absolute rock. Please tell him I said so :)

    1. deb

      So, last time the wedding was, like, down the street and I thought transporting an assembled cake was madness. So each cake tier was doweled and put in a cake box and I brought along a container of frosting (for touchups) and a piping bag full of one for the final pearl decorations I wanted to put on. It took like 30 minutes. This time, the wedding was 1.5 hours away the decorations I wanted to do on top were too intricate to risk messing up — I couldn’t, like, bring 8 bags of buttercream colors with different tips. So, I did more serious doweling, both supports on each layer (I did this last time) and (this is key) a center dowel that went through all three tiers to ensure none flew off in the car ride. The cake was on an 18″ drum (thick gold board, actually cardboard) which fit inside an 18″ inch wedding cake box with no wiggle room and that’s about it. We have a band in the car we can put around stuff to keep them from moving around and used it. It was scary but I knew nothing was likely to happen because it was all locked in.

  38. Mimi

    Deb, you really are a crazy woman :-D
    I got totally stressed out just reading about it …
    The flower decoration is *gorgeous* and the Cake looks delicious, as always at SK.

  39. Michelle

    Please do a post on how to pipe the flowers! I’ve always wanted to learn :)

    I give you so much credit for doing these wedding cakes! Looks like this one was a hit!!!!

  40. csteidl

    This cake is absolutely stunning, and I’m so bummed I missed the instagram story! I’ll have to catch it…next time you make a wedding cake? (hah!).

    I used to make a German(‘s) Chocolate Cake every year for my now ex-boyfriend’s birthday. It was a family tradition his mom had started, and when we met in college (far from mom), I picked it up so he wouldn’t be without on the big day. It’s definitely not for the person looking for a casual, fun bake, though after 4 or 5 of these it definitely became an easy process, if time-consuming. I always used David Lebovitz’s recipe (http://www.davidlebovitz.com/german-chocolat-1/), which turned out quite well and avoided the rather sad pale-chocolate-is-this-even-chocolate-? cake conundrum you outline above. I haven’t made one in ages, and I love your addition of coffee, so I’m going to have to put this back on the docket for the next celebration!

  41. Jessica Layman

    If anyone ever wants to know the math on how to turn Deb’s Browned Butter Rice Crispies into a 8 layer- 4 tier wedding cake I can help you out!

    Also, said rice crispies freeze amazingly well. 9 months later we just finished the bottom layer and it was as good as the day I made it.

  42. Molly G.

    This looks so fantastic! I am always awed by your culinary bravery! And I appreciate your realistic portrayal. I turn into a nut in the kitchen when I’m trying to do a new challenging project and my husband always asks me, “Why do you do this if it makes you so edgy?” He doesn’t get it. You do! You’re very inspiring. I’m so glad I’ve found Smitten Kitchen. It is my go-to whenever I need inspiration for a recipe.

    1. deb

      I just read your edgy line out loud to my husband because it’s all too real and we made a list of things I would never do because they make me edgy: cook, write cookbooks, possibly keep kids around. Joking. Mostly. ;)

      1. Jen

        My son, who is 10, after two big baking endeavors for a graduation and a birthday last weekend, said, “Mom, maybe you shouldn’t do these baking favors… you get a little grouchy.” Ack.

  43. John Nettleton

    Yesssss! 👏🏻👏🏻 Hubby has always wanted this, and I have stonewalled him with the no-good-recipes excuse. But no longer.

  44. Heather

    I was on vacation on a farm in the middle of nowhere last week and cursing the crappy internet connection we had every day because it made it so hard to follow your instastories! They were great! Usually I ignore stories in favour of plain old pictures but not this time. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Elemjay

      Me too! I was on holiday in rural France and whilst there was enough network on my phone to see that *something* fun was going on, there was not enough to actual watch. SO annoying! Thank you for this epic post ……

  45. GFY

    I know you’re in a rental but why wouldn’t you just buy your own oven, a nice new clean one that you love, and when you move either sell it back to the building or get rid of it on craigslist? I realize with short notice for the wedding you had to make do but it sounds like you’ve been suffering with the old one for too long when you can just get a new one?

    I’ve lived in rentals my whole adult life and have never had a landlord refuse permission for me to install my own new, clean appliances if they can buy it back when I leave. I’ve done it with a fridge, twice, as a spotless fridge is non-negotiable and once with an oven. It saves them from doing the work themselves. Win win!

    1. deb

      It has definitely crossed my mind. The landlord here isn’t the worst, he generally (albeit not at the speed I desire) gets things fixed (there have been two repair people in about the old one since I started complaining) so it didn’t seem necessary. Now, if I were allowed to put in a washer/dryer, I’d part with that money so fast…

  46. I’m intrigued, but I think my sister would kill me if I strayed from the original! Haha Gorgeous cake. I wish a wedding is going to would have German chocolate cake!

  47. J

    Gorgeous cake! And congrat to the newly wed!
    I’ve never understood GCC either, but I just might have to give this a try. 6-inch sounds doable; maybe a 2-layer to start with?

  48. Catherine

    This cake is so beautiful!

    I know that I didn’t care for German chocolate cake until I made Rose Levy Beranbaum’s version. Hers has many of the same techniques/ingredients that yours does, and is SO easy to make. The cake is so soft and moist that I use it for other types all the time.

    Congratulations on finishing such a difficult task!

  49. Amie

    Deb, I loved watching this play out on Instagram last week. Reminded me of my recent first (and last, if it’s up to my husband) wedding cake making venture, agreed upon while pregnant with my first child, and playing out when that baby was a tiny 6 weeks old (naive, pregnant me thought I’d be bouncing back to regularity by 6 weeks-ha!). I’m still not sure how I managed to get in done in my sleep deprived haze!

  50. Britt

    Honestly, following along on Insta-stories, when I got to the curdled filling, my heart ached for you. But you met the challenges with such grace, and it turned out so lovely! Thanks for sharing the journey. It was, at least, so fun for us.

  51. Elizabeth

    Congratulations on this! Coincidentally I just made a 3 tier cake for my daughter’s wedding. 3 layers per tier (14, 10, 6 inch). I just made sure the depth of batter was similar in each layer (based on making largest layer first using a recipe for 13×9 dark chocolate cake). Mathematically this was slightly thinner layer of course than the 13×9 recipe, but as long as all layers were same I wasn’t too worried (and they were since I measured depth as pans were filled). This approach worked well. I avoided having to make flowers by using real roses (fuschia, pink) to match her bouquet ‘artfully’ arranged on the Swiss meringue butter cream covered tiers . Final tip: rather than doweling I used some venti Starbucks permanent straws – very sturdy, easy to insert and cut! Would attach photo if I could figure out how! Now both daughters married and made each of their cakes I think I may be done!

  52. I love baking 6″ cakes which I started doing when I wanted to make your triple layer almond cake and didn’t need all that cake and you introduced me to equivalent pan sizes (lightbulb moment for me). The cake came out taller than it was wide; great to decorate but tricky to cut and serve. Thanks for all the fun kitchen adventures!

  53. Ashley Atencio

    This is the best tip I’ve learned for even heat distribution for cakes: Use strips of old dish towel, soak them in water, use safety pins to secure them into a band around the pan. I was completely skeptical, but I tried i , and sure enough, completely flat cakes. So flat that I didn’t even have to invert them (but I did). Practically no waste. You could get 4, 5 layers out of each round (depending on how masochistic you are).

  54. Susan Iseman

    Fantastic! Love the “new ” stove your landlord came through with! It reminded me of all of the shower and wedding cakes my mother made back in the ’60’s. From my father teetering about carrying the layers into the wedding halls, and the rolled out gumdrops for flowers …it was a hoot- even if all the brides were her nieces. I decided for my 2nd marriage on our UES rooftop, I would make a cupcake wedding cake. My friend Leslie came over a few weeks ahead and we made cupcakes and froze them. The morning of, I started to frost them and put two tiers together. I had ordered additional (real) flowers to decorate the tiers, and simply ran out of time before the wedding. Luckily some well meaning friends put it all together for me, as well, I needed hair, makeup & had to get dressed. It was swell!

  55. Elaine

    Next time use straws instead of dowels.
    They are much easier to cut and insert.
    They bear the weight fine.
    Best ones are the larger straws at Starbucks.

  56. Jacquie Katz

    You are so brave! Stay brave and make cakes for their 50th and yours! Your blog is so much fun to read and your food is amazing. I don’t make many cakes, but this 6 inch looks like fun. And your humus with tomatoes and cucumber has been a life saver this summer. (After no tomatoes last summer-a bumper crop of German Johnsons this year and you do not want to waste one!)

  57. Barb

    I would love to know about how you did those gorgeous flowers. Please do write it up sometime! And thank you for being so wonderfully human! It gives me encouragement that even after my own decades of cooking and baking, that curdling happens to everyone!

  58. Judy

    my favorite wedding cake story is when my husband’s niece got married, as the waitstaff wheeled the cake out, it fell. After a moment of complete silence (and in a room of 200, that was a feat), the bride began laughing in a most genuine way. She has a fabulously infectious laugh, and we all knew at that point that this couple was “the real deal”.
    If the cake had all your gorgeous flowers, the silence may have lasted longer-your cake was an ultimate triumph

  59. I give you big props for taking on this challenge. I made a wedding cake once for my brother and sister-in-law. They eloped. There were approximately 6 guests. I made a tiered wedding cake with a 10″, 8″ and 6″ layer – far too much for us, but definitely more workable than the behemoth you tackled. You rock!

  60. LInda

    You have been one of my favorite writers (and definitely my favorite cook!) for years, but I’ve never commented on a posting before. But this. Wow. The cake is beyond gorgeous and I’m thrilled to have a better german chocolate option as it is my husbands favorite birthday cake–and one I’ve always felt “meh” about. And I laughed out loud reading about your pre-wedding week. Thanks for being real and for letting us all have a peek into your kitchen and your life!

  61. Jacelyn

    I totally understand all your frustrations! I was asked to make a cake for my grandma’s 80th birthday that was supposed to feed 200 and be white and gold. I made 16, 14,12,10, and 8 inch tiers. I was so excited to attempt this behemoth of a cake myself. (I’m not sure why!) I did what I always do best and that is procrastinate, and had a lot of problems in the end. And did I mention I also attempted to make HOMEMADE sugar lace for the decorations and I’ve never done it before 1 day before the event?! I cried so much that day, but in the end it turned out pretty good and everyone kept going for seconds and thirds. I learned so much and one of those lessons is to NEVER do a cake that size again! LOL

  62. Deborah HH

    I’m a Texan—age 65—and I remember the cake-baking mania prompted by the Dallas Morning News publication of the German’s Chocolate Cake recipe. (We lived in the DMN circulation area.) My father raved and raved over the cake, and told my mother he’d be happy to see it once a week; she told him it was kinda expensive to make. He said he’d make sure there was room in the budget to afford the ingredients. :) He *didn’t* get one every week, but it quickly became our special occasion cake (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, family gatherings).

    Your recipe version sounds delicious and I look forward to baking it (toasting the pecans and coconut—oooh!). And your buttercream floral arrangement on top reminded me of blooming cactus, all clustered together.

  63. John Liptak

    Hi Deb! I’ve been in love with German Chocolate Cake since childhood and I’m 65 and a clutsy guy. As beautiful as your cakes are, I’m probably never going to attempt it. How would I convert to a simple 9X13 pan cake? I would be eternally grateful!

  64. Kathy D

    I, too, love reading these longer posts. They either confirm my gut that I never have to make something I’ve wondered about (I can make it vicariously by reading), or they inspire me to try something about which I’ve long been apprehensive. Your very detailed descriptions and explanations make it easy to choose either path.

    PS: Those of us who live in Philadelphia and remember Rindelaub’s German chocolate cake never learned to make these ourselves, and now live on the memories.

  65. Cathy L

    Deb, Your first wedding cake posts were my bible when I made our daughters wedding cake. It was a lemon flavored cake with a raspberry buttercream filling and swiss butter cream icing decorated with real flowers. It was served as the main dessert and apparently was a hit, as people were coming back for seconds. Tomorrow I will be icing version number two of basically the same cake for our son’s wedding. This time not in my own kitchen. Thanks so much for all of your detailed posts and how funny that this should appear just at this time!

  66. Wow! Amazing job, Deb!
    I recently agreed to make a naked wedding cake for an October weekend and am already planning out my schedule (which I will now go back to and build in extra time…)
    My question is regarding dowelling the cake. Typically, I’ve only put dowels in each cake layer, without also putting one right through the entire cake. But I’ve recently read that the centre dowel is necessary for non-fondant covered cakes and especially for naked cakes. I was planning to transport in tiers and assemble at the venue. How did you dowel this cake and how did you transport it?

    Your wisdom is much appreciated!

    1. deb

      I don’t know what a center dowel has to do with fondant or frosting. I see it as — and used it this time — as something to stabilize the cake for transport. A thin, center dowel that goes through all cake layers keeps tiers from flying off each other or sliding in a car ride. Although it’s not terribly likely, it holds the *whole* cake together.

  67. Luann

    Enjoyed a little history on the German Chocolate cake. Thank you.
    I will definitely try this at our last meal of harvest in the Fall! Tho I am Italian avd grew up in NYC and north Jersey, I have lived in this ‘Very German’ part of North Dakota for many years, and my husbands family are all ‘Very German’!
    I decided I will do a 2 large round layer version, and will get out my cake decorating kit to put a small cascade of sunflowers on it to go with our theme! LOL.
    I bring a lot of different meals out to the farmers and am always looking for different meal ideas to put smiles on those hard working guys and gals,
    Thank you so much for a different idea😀

  68. Peg

    You can’t even know how much I enjoyed reading this! It’s awesome when professionals are honest about their own challenges. BTW, the cake looks amazing!

  69. The cake looks great! I made a wedding cake for my friend’s wedding and I know of no other way to accomplish such a task without large amounts of expletives/major freak outs/disasters involving eggs/butter. It’s all good. ALSO, I bought this sweet knife a few years ago that is so awesomely long that I can split just about any cake with it and I love it and I wield it like a ninja:
    http://fatdaddios.com/catalog/breadcake-knives

  70. carrotmusic

    Hi! This post really brought back memories of making my own wedding cake. The one thing I did that probably saved my life was borrowing a second mixer and a friend to help so that I could mix up two batches of the batter I was using at the exact same time. I decorated mine with hearts cut from rolled out almond paste in rainbow colors – very simple and tasty too. The outside of the cake was frosted in apricot buttercream, with the inner layer edges “dammed” with the same so I could fill the layers with a raspberry jam coating and chocolate frosting. And of course it was a chocolate cake… I assembled the whole thing a week ahead of time and was fortunate to have a friend with an EMPTY upright freezer, so I drove the cake over to her house (now that was nerve wracking, watching it wiggle when I hit the bumps in the road) and froze it whole. There was a moment of real nerves when I wondered if the board I had assembled it on would fit in the freezer… Having it frozen made the transport to the reception venue a snap, for sure. And I made so much cake (thinking that people actually ate it like a dessert serving, which isn’t really the case at a reception) we were still serving it to friends when we got back from our honeymoon. That was almost 35 years ago, and the story still circulating among my friends was how my dog got into one of the layers while they were cooling. It was one of the extra layers (I’d been planning to make a secondary cake, to make sure there was enough – do you sense a theme here?) so no real harm was done.

    Having said all that, I now want to make your German’s chocolate cake – it’s something I love when it’s really flavorful (which yours sounds to be). And your flowers are truly lovely as well. Your friends are very lucky to have you in their lives!

  71. Hillary

    It was fun to follow along on insta stories! Would love to read more about the doweling/ stacking/ transporting process! I’ve only done up to two tier wedding/ large party cakes, using straws and cardboard cake rounds– the logistics of a third tier make me nervous.

  72. Susan

    I had to laugh when i read your description of what you planned and what actually happened. This similar situation happened to me on a few occassions when i stupidly agreed to make large cakes for events. Best laid plans never actually work out. Needless to say the cake looks amazing. I’m not a fan of German cake either but may be willing to try the recipe becuase your story was so funny!

  73. Samantha Condron

    I learned the hard way that this isn’t German, traipsed all over Berlin looking for some! Thankfully I did find many other yummy cakes in the process.

  74. Annie

    Yes, I saw this posted in the afternoon and ran home and made it the same night! The flower decorations are absolutely stunning, and I will not be attempting haha. I haven’t assembled the layers yet but the cake smells absolutely delicious & the filling (I tasted it…) is amazing…I did leave the coconut out though, because coconut is considered a poisonous non-food item by several family members.
    Quick note – I think the instructions are missing the part where you add the chocolate/coffee/buttermilk mixture back into the batter…..I was about to fold in the egg whites when I realized it was still “set aside” so I added it in after I had already mixed the flour/cocoa powder in but I suspect that is not the correct order…

  75. Marie

    That is a story of harrowing suspense! So glad it had a happy ending. The cake is gorgeous!

    When I was a kid I always requested German chocolate pie for my birthday. (Also a recipe that used to be on the Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate package; now you can easily find it on the internet.) For my 50th birthday, I decided to make one for myself. It was so sweet it made my teeth hurt. I’m going to try transferring some of your cake alterations to the pie and see if I like it.

  76. Laurel

    ahhh, making now. but when do i add the coffee and butter milk? i’m about to add the eggwhites and I realize it doesn’t have the chocolate in it

    1. deb

      Oh my goodness, so sorry. It was inevitable that I would flub something on a 5000 word post! They should go in after the yolks but it will be fine. Just mix them in now. (Now fixed, too, not that it helps.)

  77. Anne

    Beautiful! I would love to learn how to make the flower garden you created here. And I hated geometry in school, but it’s probably the math I use most now. If they’d stated it all in terms of baking pans in school, I might have been interested!

  78. Cyndi

    Your post inspired me to look at those wedding cake guides and watch a video explaining how to deal with the dowls. Now I know that I will never attempt this at home. You are brave! A side note: My cousin makes wedding cakes for a living. Seriously.

  79. Laura

    Thanks for creating this recipe! About a year ago I went looking for a good german chocolate cake recipe, (or even just german chocolate cake filling) and made some of the same discoveries you did. I was surprised to see that none of my favorite bloggers or food websites had one. And now you do! Thanks.

  80. Eileen

    Thank you so much for the improvements to German’s chocolate cake! It is my husband’s favorite, always found it bland and way too sweet!. Love the pictures and always enjoy what you put into newsletter. Also, greatly appreciate that your recipes are real world. By the way – I have a tip for you. I am sure you make your own vanilla, but I don’t. However, I found that when making cookies – I cut the sugar way back and need a flavor boost. Anyway, I measure out vanilla ahead of time in a wee cup, add a heavy pinch of vanilla bean paste and let it stand while I get everything ready. Much more vanilla flavor!

  81. reddressgnome

    it’s so beautiful! i love that it’s naked and how bright and chaotic the flowers are. so many layers!! WOW!!! (gotta be a metaphor for marriage in there, somewhere.. like the starting credit sequence for “Frankie and Grace” on Netflix.. crumbling perfectly traditional white and smooth wedding cake!!)

  82. Charu

    You are amazing ! It was so much fun to witness this whole process and I adore your honesty ..
    It won’t be an overstatement to say I watched and waited for the insta stories that week as eagerly as GOT or House of Cards ;)

    Keep rocking!

  83. Elizabeth C Alexander

    I’m exhausted just reading this. Also a little disappointed that after years of thinking my grandmother (who was German) was making me her own “special” cake it was Mr. Germans. So Sad……

  84. Rosa V. (liltrukr)

    Hello Deb this is Rosa I want to ask you a question I want to try your wedding cake and the thing is that I’m not understanding when you write down how to get your answers can you just put down in in numbers and show me the amounts for all of them or give me an example of one because I think I’m not doing this right for instance I have tried this but don’t understand what it’s for or do I get the same amount of everything cuz that doesn’t make sense either

    For a 9″ inch (63.5×5.4=342.9
    For a 10″ inch (78.5×5.4=423.9
    For a 12″ inch (113.×5.4=610.2
    For a 12″ inch (153.9×5.4=832.6
    Deb. What is this for? I’m a bit confused can you please explain to me because I would love to make this wedding cake😍
    Absolutely Beautiful! 💕

    1. Lauren

      Hi Rosa, I hope I’m understanding your question and Deb’s instructions well enough, but the 5.4 is only for scaling up a 6 inch cake to a 14 inch cake, because the area of the 6 inch cake (28.3 square inches) times 5.4 equals the area of the 14 inch cake (153.9 square inches). To scale up the 6 inch cake to any other size, you need to multiply the ingredient amounts by a different number, which will be the area of the size cake you want divided by the area of the 6 inch cake. So if you want a 9 inch cake, you’d multiply the 6 inch ingredients by 63.5/28.3, or about 2.24. Does that make sense?

      p.s. Deb you are amazing! I love this post so much.

      1. Hi Lauren: and thank you for getting back to me and explaining….

        Is this want you mean for a 12″inch !
        (The 5.4 is only for scaling up a 6 inch cake to a 14 inch cake)
        55×5.4=296/bittersweet chocolate, chopped
        5.4x.25=135ml. hot coffee 5.4×120 ml=648 ml/buttermilk
        5.4×2-10.8/eggs 5.4×113=610.2 g./butter 5.4×70=378/light or dark brown sugar 5.4×100=540/white sugar 5.4x.25=1.35/salt (1 ¼ teaspoons) 5/4×1/2=2 teaspoons/pure vanilla 5.4×1/4+1/8=1 ½ teaspoons/baking soda 5.4×22=118.8 g./cocoa powder 5.4x100g.=540 /all–purpose flour

        please let me know if I did it right…

        1. Lauren

          Hi Rosa! Not quite – for a 12 inch, you would scale up by 113/28.3, or 4. (This is because you need to divide the area of a 12 inch (113 sq in) by the area of the 6 in (28.3 sq in) to get the number (4) that you will multiply everything by.

          So it would then be:
          4×55=220 grams bittersweet chocolate
          4×60=240 mL coffee
          4×120 =480 mL buttermilk
          4×2=8 eggs
          …and so on.

          Does that make sense?

          1. Rosa V. (liltrukr)

            Hi Lauren: is this right??

            Size 12 inch cake: 7×55=385g. /bittersweet chocolate, chopped
            7×60=420 ml. hot coffee
            7×120 ml=840 ml/buttermilk
            7×2=14 large eggs
            7×113=791 g./unsalted butter
            7×70=490/light or dark brown sugar 7×100=700/white sugar 7x.25=1 +3/4 teaspoons salt 7×1/2=3+1/2 teaspoons/pure vanilla extract
            7×1/4+1/8=2+5/8 teaspoons/baking soda
            7×22=154g./cocoa powder 7x100g.=700g. /all–purpose flour

            Size 10”cake: 5×55=275/bittersweet chocolate, chopped
            5×60=300 ml. coffee 5×120=600 ml/buttermilk 5×2=10 large eggs 5×113-565g./unsalted butter 5×70=350g./ light or dark brown sugar 5×100=500g./ White sugar
            5x.25=1 ¼ teaspoons salt 5×1/2=
            2 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
            5 x1/4 +1/8=1+7/8 teaspoons/baking soda
            5×22=110g. Cocoa powder 5×100=500g. /all-purpose flour
            :)

            1. Lauren

              No, for a 12 inch cake you multiply all of the ingredient amounts by 4 (not 7).

              For a 10 inch cake you multiply all of the ingredient amounts by 2.8 (not 5).

              For a 9 inch cake multiply everything by 2.24.

              Good luck :)

              1. Rosa V. (liltrukr)

                Hi Lauren, I think I got it now 😯

                10″inch cake 2.8 x55=154 grams bittersweet chocolate
                2.8 x60=168 ml. coffee or tea flavor
                2.8×120=336 ml. buttermilk 2.8×2=5-6 large eggs/ separated 2.8×113=316.4 grams unsalted butter, softened
                2.8×100=280 grams white sugar
                2.8×70=196 grams light or dark brown sugar
                2.8×1/4=3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt 2.8×1/2= 1+1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 2.8×1/4+1/8=1+1/2 teaspoons baking soda
                2.8×22=61.6 grams) cocoa powder
                2.8×100-280 grams) all-purpose flour
                ————————————————————
                12-inch cake 4×55=220 grams bittersweet chocolate
                4×60=240 ml coffee or tea flavor
                4×120 =480 ml buttermilk
                4×2=8 eggs/separated
                4×113=452 grams unsalted butter, softened
                4×100=400 grams white sugar
                4×70=280 grams light or dark brown sugar
                4×1/4=1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt 4×1/2=2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 4×1/4+1/8=1+1/2 teaspoons baking soda
                4×22=88 grams) cocoa powder
                4×100=400 grams) all-purpose flour

              2. Rosa V. (liltrukr)

                Thank you so much Lauren for helping me to understand , I don’t know what I would have done with out you 😉😎

  85. M.A.

    I’m constantly in awe of your wedding cake making skills.

    I made my own wedding cupcakes because the idea of a tiered cake made me super nervous. And only 60 of them, because it was a wedding for 40. People were still so impressed — I was just happy there weren’t any left at the end of the ceremony, since I was Quite Sick of Key Lime Cupcakes by the end of it all. (So many test batches!)

    It was one of those things though — I like to bake, I know I can make a better cake than most bakeries around here, and it would just bug me to no end to offer my guests subpar cake. Especially when if they came to my house, they wouldn’t be getting subpar anything. You’re my guests! Let me feed you tasty things!

  86. Mindy

    So I haven’t made this yet, but I just had to comment because I love, love, love German chocolate cake and the best one I’ve ever had is the one from Sky High (the book you took the chocolate peanut butter cake from) which I bought on your recommendation and is probably the best cookbook I have.

    1. deb

      It went great. It was all eaten quickly. The grooms did not want to take home the top tier so I ran the serving sizes assumed we’d slice up the top.

  87. Amy

    You must be the very best friend a person can have. That is a beautiful cake, and you are a superhero for persevering and making it happen.

  88. Jenn

    Deb, I’m not usually a fan of German Chocolate cake but reading your blog is now making me want to go try this recipe!!! :). The wedding cake you made looks amazing. If I make and assemble the cake a few days in advance, do I need to brush some sugar syrup on the cake layers to keep them moist or no need to do this step? Thanks so much!

    1. deb

      I feel like with this cake, no. You can do it if you’re nervous (a simple syrup with rum is delicious) but the filling is a moist, heavy, thick custard and the cake is tender and light and dryness just was not an issue at all.

  89. I, as an experienced home baker but overall amateur, once volunteered to make a wedding cake for a friend’s wedding that was to serve 200. The day before the wedding, when all the layers had been baked off and chilled and were ready to be filled and frosted, a rat (or two or three) had gotten into the church kitchen I was using and had eaten a good portion of the bottom tier. I probably cried a little although I hardly remember — I’m sure I blocked it out. Somehow, the layer got re-baked and the cake made it to the reception. It weighed enough that two sturdy men had to carry it on a plank of plywood covered in tulle and such. Never again.

  90. Jamie

    It’s so pretty! Awesome job! I love how the bright flowers pop against the chocolate cake. It’s gorgeous.
    I bought a food coloring “system” from Michael’s for like $30 that consists of 8 different colors and a chart that allows you to mix the 8 colors into basically any color you can possibly want. That kit has made cake decorating so much easier. I no longer have to run to the store and hope they have the color I need (because the number of times I couldn’t find what I needed and had to change my plan is frustratingly high!). I’m a little mad I didn’t buy it sooner.

  91. R Ryle M

    It looks amazing! Funny enough my aunt and I made the cake for my sister’s wedding this past week. We did pretty well considering that this is my aunt’s first time doing a wedding cake (the cake thing is really a side business of hers) and it was a different cake for each tier (purple yam, mocha, and carrot). And it was all done the night before and the morning of the wedding!

  92. Lisa

    Being German (and a cake enthusiast) I really wondered what in the world a so called German Chocolate Cake would be – but although this was a wonderful post (as always) I think I’m content with never making one (or a wedding cake) ;)

  93. Lauren Weisfeld

    Boy do I relate to this! I’ve made some wedding cakes myself with similar adventures. I love your website, always turn to you when I need a recipe, and recommend you to anyone who’ll listen. This question is sort of nutty because it’s not about the cake or even the stunning decorations, but the cakestand. I want that exact white cakestand! Will you share where you got it? I have a cakestand obsession and that one is perfection. Thanks for this and for all your posts — they’re life-enhancing!

  94. Johanna Rodriguez

    Your German Chocolate cake was absolutely fabulous! When my son told me at first, that they were having a naked cake, I was intrigued. Trusting Diego’s sense of taste, I had full confidence that this cake was going to be nothing short of spectacular. I was not disappointed. I cannot describe the perfect marriage of taste and texture that was happening with each bite. Your labor and love for the couple is amazing. Thank you for making my son’s wedding memorable!

    1. Wife To An Amazing Cook

      I don’t know the grooms (or Deb IRL if I’m being honest, even though she is my BFF online), but this comment is just so lovely. Well done, Deb.

  95. Maria

    You did such a good job!
    I’m baking a wedding cake in 2 days and have a little trouble finding dowels. A couple of recipes say you can use straws. Do you think that will work?
    Also, the cardboard in between the cake layers is pretty thin. Do you think thats a problem? Thanks for the great story!

    1. Karen Brown

      Use wide diameter plastic straws, like the kind you get with a milkshake. Place one in the middle of each layer, then one about every three inches apart in a circle where the next tier up will sit. Don’t forget that each tier needs to sit on a cake cardboard

    2. deb

      For cardboard, I prefer, if you can find them, shiny coated boards (mine were gold on one side, white on the other) because they’re not absorbent although it’s quite unlikely that a cake will make a piece of uncoated cardboard fall apart in just a couple days, so not the end of the world if you can’t find them.

  96. Joanna

    What a beautiful cake!! I loved following along on your Instagram Stories last week too :)

    Side note – I came onto your site to look for pancake recipes and the Toyoto Camry video ad started playing loudly and reloads every single time I click on a new link, and each time I click “pause” or “mute” another one on the same page (there seems to be 3+ more on each page as you scroll down) starts playing again. I’m trying to stream NPR on my computer while I browse the internet and I basically just had to mute my whole computer just to use your website! (I don’t mind ads and I’m not bashing on ads at all, just maybe if the auto-loading ones with sound could be a bit more gentle for a nicer browsing experience :))

  97. Ess

    I would love to hear the technique for piping multiple colors from one frosting bag with multiple tips, please!
    I may have committed to making fancy baby shower cupcakes the day after i return from an international trip and any shortcuts would make my life easier!

  98. Ack. I just made a wedding cake a couple of weeks ago and found myself nodding along and making sympathetic noises while reading this post (the filling, the curdled filling: oh, the agony)! I bake professionally but have never done a wedding cake; there is a reason (actually, many reasons) there are people out there who have this designated job, and we mere mortals are brave souls indeed to attempt such a feat on our own! These tips are great – especially the scaling information (I wish I’d had it when I was struggling through all the calculations a few weeks ago, why aren’t you telepathic yet? :)) – and I hope you had a nice long bath, or a good strong cocktail, or maybe both, when it was all done and you’d received your well-earned praise!

  99. Grace

    Silly question – I’m contemplating my daughter’s wedding cake – as a Brit, mine made by my mum eons ago was a trad. fruit cake which cut into slices for guests fairly easily – how on earth do you cut a multi layered soft textured cake – do you separate the layers somehow or cut through them all?

  100. Rosa V. (liltrukr)

    Hi Deb, this is rose again I left you a question and you haven’t gotten back yet you could be busy, I don’t know but I love the wedding cake the German wedding cake, I just don’t understand your method of sizing each size for each pants size can you please put it down by numbers times whatever so I can understand, I still don’t understand what you’re saying.😯

        1. Rosa V. (liltrukr)

          Hi Deb. can you r write down each amount of ingredients for a size 12 and a size 10 for me for the German cake I appreciate it so much if you could because I’m so mixed up with all these numbers and thank you so much.

          1. Rosa V. (liltrukr)

            10″inch cake 2.8 x55=154 grams bittersweet chocolate
            2.8 x60=168 ml. coffee or tea flavor
            2.8×120=336 ml. buttermilk 2.8×2=5-6 large eggs/ separated 2.8×113=316.4 grams unsalted butter, softened
            2.8×100=280 grams white sugar
            2.8×70=196 grams light or dark brown sugar
            2.8×1/4=3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt 2.8×1/2= 1+1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 2.8×1/4+1/8=1+1/2 teaspoons baking soda
            2.8×22=61.6 grams) cocoa powder
            2.8×100-280 grams) all-purpose flour
            ————————————————————
            12-inch cake 4×55=220 grams bittersweet chocolate
            4×60=240 ml coffee or tea flavor
            4×120 =480 ml buttermilk
            4×2=8 eggs/separated
            4×113=452 grams unsalted butter, softened
            4×100=400 grams white sugar
            4×70=280 grams light or dark brown sugar
            4×1/4=1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt 4×1/2=2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 4×1/4+1/8=1+1/2 teaspoons baking soda
            4×22=88 grams) cocoa powder
            4×100=400 grams) all-purpose flour

      1. Rosa V. (liltrukr)

        Hello Deb I wrote to you a few times on the on this blog you have not gotten back to me I need to know these recipe is right I posted it on here so you could see it but you haven’t gotten back I need to know so I can make this these cakes I would really appreciate it if you got back to me soon and I haven’t heard anything from you yet please let me know this is right I already put it down on this part of the blog on the comment.

        1. deb

          I have seen the comments you left (and responded once) but I also saw that a Lauren (thank you) has written back a three times with all of the measurements worked out for you including adjustments you requested, so I thought your question was answered. At this point, if it’s not, let’s move this over to email (deb@smittenkitchen.com) because if the long copied and pasted recipes aren’t helping, we should remove them because they take up a lot of screen space for others to scroll past.

  101. S

    I would love to hear the technique for piping multiple colors from one frosting bag with multiple tips, please!
    I may have committed to making fancy baby shower cupcakes the day after i return from an international trip and any shortcuts would make my life easier!

  102. I use one regular size Herman chocolate cake mix to make these delicious caramel brownies -how do you suggest I adapt your cake mix to use in my recipe. I end up using the cake mix for a 13×9 -it makes a thin crust then the caramel filling then more cake mix as a crumble on top.

    I enjoyed your IG stories and was amazed by all your boos which I would imagine are cookbooks ?

  103. Karen Brown

    Oh my goodness!! That was quite a baking feat. I’m intrigued by the actual cake. Although I’ve been baking for more years than I care to count, I’ve never made a German chocolate cake. I’m definitely trying this.
    On the subject of wedding cakes, I’ve made dozens over the years. I would like to echo other readers-the freezer is your best friend when undertaking a multi tiered cake. Just wrap each layer really, really well. I’ve never done a “naked” cake, so I usually give each layer a crumb coat of icing before freezing, kind of like priming a wall before painting it, gives a beautiful smooth finish when you ice(what we Kiwis call the act of frosting), and seals in the moistness.
    The other tips I can offer are , if you think you’ll be making more than a few multilayered cakes in your lifetime, invest in a Agbay brand cake leveler. I’ve thrown out three cake levelers, including a Wilton one, before finding the Agbay on a cake blog. This is the Rolls Royce of cake levelers! (I’m not in any way associated with this product, just love a tool that actually does what it’s meant to do.)
    And finally, I think meringue buttercream is the ultimate for coating, piping, and making piped flowers. It also takes colour really well, holds its shape even in warm conditions, is a great vehicle for all kinds of flavours, and can be made ahead, and can be frozen. So many recipes make this buttercream sound intimidating, but if you have a stand mixer and a candy thermometer it’s actually easy.
    Your friends are so lucky to have you as a “go-to cake girl”. Hope the wedding was a magical day.
    Cheers from the South Seas, Karen

  104. Karima

    OH MY GOD DEB I LOVE (READING) YOU SO MUCH!!!
    Since a New Yorker friend of mine recommended your blog to me, I’ve been relying on you: from cooking in Ethiopia, where a lot of groceries are not exactly easy to come by — but your plum crumb hazelnut cake was just perfect for those tiny plums I had found at the market, and I even had some imported hazelnuts left in my freezer from Christmas (phew) — to impressing my Israeli visitors with your orange, pepper and sea salt challah, to throwing together a quick weeknight pizza at home for my family — with the recipe from your first book, which my boyfriend surprised me with (oh, I am so smitten with him) — to hosting my colleagues and (hopefully) impressing them with the freshest greek salat tomorrow – you’ve been there with me!
    Again, Deb, I love you and your blog.
    Oh, did I mention that the way you describe messing up your schedule in the kitchen never fails to crack me up? Especially when your little ones are involved – been there too…

  105. Andrea

    Love the back story on the Baker’s German’s Chocolate Cake. We live next to the old Baker’s Factory in Boston. So nice to know another piece of history.

  106. Country Kate

    Deb, this is a delightful post. Thanks so much for sharing the process (your timeline was–obviously–very funny, because that’s also how my life goes), and the gorgeous results. And now I have an excellent, tried-and-true recipe for German Chocolate Cake.

    Thanks for being the one food/recipe blogger whose taste and judgment I can reliably trust. And for writing with such humor, good grace, and humility; it’s a rare and wonderful combination.

  107. Eileen

    Do not love German Chocolate Cake so I would not make this one even though all your modifications make me think your cake tasted great…commenting because your cake decoration looks AWESOME!!!! So pretty! Hope you will add more pics of the actual wedding cake before it was cut. It is inspiring. Great job.

  108. jjjeanie

    re: cutting layers. This isn’t really a question for Deb, but rather an answer for anyone who wants to know. I recently made a chocolate wedding cake, with a bottom layer of 14″. I also wanted to cut each layer in half, but who has a knife that big? So I used a serrated knife to cut into the cake about halfway, all the way around. Then I (carefully!) used a plain, non-waxed dental floss to finish the cut. It worked beautifully!!

  109. I made a wedding cake and a large birthday cake for my step-daughter this summer, both in over 90 degree days. I used your chocolate cake recipe, for one tier on each cake, which turned out great-moist, with wonderful flavor. Both cakes were big hits, and relatively successful, considering I’d never done large cakes before. I did a ton of reading, and your blog was a huge help-I do read it every week, and have used so many of your recipes. Thank you!!

  110. nrstrife

    Your cake looks amazing, and I bet it was a huge success! I did this once, too, and it involved packing frozen layers (6″, 10″, 14″) and quarts of frozen raspberry scented buttercream and taking the whole lot to Pittsburgh (I live in Northern NJ.)
    We bought out every raspberry in the city to add between the layers, I filled the layers and crumb-coated them at my sister’s house, sloooowly drove to the venue and assembled the layers and frosted and piped simple vines at the venue. The bride and groom and the guests were suitably impressed, Phew! And last week I gave away (finally, this was 8 years ago for heaven’s sake) the pans to a friend who is starting out. Thanks for inspiring–and entertaining– us readers every day!

  111. sally

    Even though I would never make this, I read the whole thing and loved it.
    thanks for sharing!!! All of it is just plain impressive.
    (I mean, how hot was it in your apartment to do all this baking in the middle of the summer ?? I don’t ever bake for my July baby’s birthdays cause I can’t stand how hot it gets!)

  112. Tatiana

    I’ve said it on Instagram but it needs to be repeated. You are an amazing and generous friend to create such a delicious and beautiful wedding cake. I showed the picture to my husband (GCC is his favorite) and he said, “Now that’s a wedding cake!” No stale white layers, coated in super sugary goop. Just pure chocolate bliss with nuts and coconut! Trust me, if we hadn’t eloped 27 years ago, this is the cake he would have asked for.

  113. Laura

    Hello Deb!
    I didn’t watch live but I loved the written version of “how it really happened”. I KNOW that the beautiful things you make and create come with a large amount of stress and trial & error and yet it was still nice to have a reminder, a glimpse into “oh yeah someone who I really admire also has those days/weeks/decisions, too”. And to top it all off, the cake really does look yummy and delicious. I really like the flowers and colors, authentic to nature or not. Love was baked into it, how could it not be a great wedding cake?

    1. deb

      We are planning it right now. I should have a full announcement of dates and stops right after Labor Day. I am nearly certain (but not yet 100%) that Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver will be on it, or we are trying our best to make it happen. Thanks!

  114. Shelly

    I ADORE GCC so I’m delighted to see your spin on it! Thank you for making it less fussy than it needs to be. I recall my mom’s recipe being two, if not three, pages long and simply too daunting to attempt. I simply adore your site and have for years and years. One of my favorite things was the, “here’s what happened last year and the year before that and the year before that…” section following a recipe. Ack – it’s gone. I can’t tell you how many times I had a , “Hey, I remember that one” moment and made something I hadn’t for a long time. Will “Deb’s History 101” make its return back? Fingers crossed in MN.

    1. deb

      First, thank you. I took a break from the One Year Ago, etc. this last month because, tbh, it takes me so long to do, it’s all manual and sometimes it was 20-30 minutes and I’m looking for an alternative. Or, if the complaints hit a fever pitch, I’ll bring it back sooner. But you’re the first to notice!

      1. Sow

        Ohh I hadn’t noticed this earlier, but now that I read this comment, I miss it too.. haha! Can you get your IT guy to write a simple program that will take in the appropriate inputs and spit out the recipes for you? Assuming the only reason you stopped doing this was because it was time-consuming. I did think you might stop doing the 10, 11 etc. years ago to stop it from getting too lengthy but didn’t think you’d do away with it completely. Hope you reconsider :)

  115. Pam

    Dark chocolate rules in this cake.
    Won’t touch the ‘traditional’ version anymore.

    Thanks for telling us your story. You are waaay braver than I.

  116. Marie M.C.

    Please check out this YouTube video: “How to divide cakes using thread + youtube”. Deb — You don’t say how you divide your cake into smaller layers — or maybe you do and I missed it — but this is a method I learned in the Girl Scouts in the 1950s. (Yes, I’m that old.) I recommend this method to everyone. Check it out — it’s easy and makes perfect layers every time.

    The wedding cake looks fantastic — and I’m sure the wedding guests thought it tasted yummy too. Making the cake — AND all the test cakes — then writing out the recipe — WOW! Am I impressed.

    1. Marie M.C.

      The video I mentioned was by Foxy Folksy. Interesting name. So it’s: “How to divide cakes using thread + Foxy Folksy + youtube”. It doesn’t show it clearly but after you measured where you want the cut to be — you cross the the ends of the thread and pull.

  117. What an experience! The whole time I couldn’t help but think you should have used Ina Garten’s “Beatty’s Chocolate Cake” recipe! Pretty similar with the coffee-chocolate motif and so much easier!

  118. Sugar State of Mind

    I love the step by step photos you included! It really gave insight into the entire process you went through. I also love the character you put into your writing.

  119. Sugar State of Mind

    Wow. The time and effort you put into this is amazing! I absolutely loved the florals. I only hope to be that good with a piping bag and buttercream in the future.

  120. Absolutely lovely. And would satisfy all my cravings for chocolate in just one big piece. I usually use a string to cut a cake in layers. I find it easier than with a knife.

  121. This was endlessly fascinating and more than a little stressful just to read (and the turning-the-heat-up-high-out-of-impatience-and-ruining-everything is a far too familiar tune for me) but you are an absolute superstar for taking it on and pulling it off so spectacularly. Your friends must feel so very lucky. And I agree with everyone else, I adored watching this on Instagram stories! If this adventure was stressful for you, it didn’t show at all — instead, it was just a ray of cake-tutorial-sunshine for me at my boring desk. Hurray, Deb!

  122. Sara

    Way to go, Deb! I was following along last week on Instagram and was simultaneously impressed with what you accomplished and sympathetic as I’ve gotten myself into more baking “messes” than I’d like to admit, involving late night hours and frosting mishaps galore. Final product looked amazing and I’m sure the happy couple loved it!! What a good friend you are!

  123. Vicki

    Ugly. German Chocolate Cake is to be better respected than your version of an updated floral mash of buttercream flowers.
    Have some respect for tradition and get with it.
    Every other blog is doing something to reinvent the wheel….your exorcise here is ugly.
    Sorry and …oh hell, hope the honeymoon was great.

  124. Leah

    I can’t imagine the amount of work you put into this gorgeous cake. That’s a job well done!

    I just want to say, if you are going to make large cakes often, you probably want to check Ankarsrum Mixer, it is basically 1.5 the capacity of the largest Kitchen Aid Mixer. It is 7 quart, but you can fill it until the bowl is almost full, unlike KA where you need to give some room on top. Like ~14 cup flour vs 23 cups flour, if I remember it right. Ankarsrum is very strong for making large amount of bread dough too, both soft or stiff
    -Leah

  125. I made a wedding cake in 2016 inspired by your original Project Wedding Cake. Although I swore I’d never make another, you’ve given me the urge all over again. (I’m partially to blame, too. The bride and I decided against a tiered cake, and while the naked cakes looked lovely on stands of varying heights, I feel like I cheated a little without tiering.)

  126. Deb–
    Your cake looks and sounds great. I’ll have to try it. As an alternative, you might want to look at this recipe from the Bridge Street Bakery in Waitsfield, Vermont that I found in Gourmet back in 2000. I’ve made it a bunch of times, and it is a winner. Because of the cake is covered in a chocolate glaze, it has a more formal look, but still has great taste.
    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/inside-out-german-chocolate-cake-103202
    The only thing that I modified from the original is the use of 60% cocao bittersweet chocolate instead of semi-sweet for the chocolate glaze. It is more of a counterpoint to the sweetness of the coconut/pecan/caramel layers and gives a better balance.

    Steve

  127. Tonia

    FYI – When I had my bakery I just used my sour cream chocolate cake for the “German” Chocolate cake — much easier and sturdier and I like the flavor better. ALWAYS toast the nuts/coconut! But the idea of using brown sugar rather than white is a great idea and what I’ll use next time I make the filling. ;-)

  128. The Good Bakes

    Hello!! We are junior bakers and we are in the process of trying your recipe!!!! We made made the buttermilk chocolate mixture that you said would look disgusting, but instead of coffee we used hot choolate ( and enjoyed the leftovers with marshmallows afterwords😋) and we recommend next time you make your cake because the results were silky smooth and wonderful with in the mixture!!!!

    Best baking wishes!!,
    The Good Bakes

  129. The Good Bakes

    Our cake came out lovely in our opinion and you have an amazing recipe. Thank you for sharing!!!

    Happy baking,
    The Good Bakes

  130. Hello Deb! Long time lurker first time poster…
    As a request for a birthday cake to make for a friend’s birthday, my searched had you in the results and SK is my top tier for recipes!
    Small twist, birthday is going to be held 4 hours from conventional comforts in the mountains. No big deal, I’ve made components before but I was also short on time. So I cheated and got a box, replaced the water with coffee separated the eggs and made it as close to your method as I could. With the amount of people going I decided to make a 9 inch. I brought up all my tools, a round cake board, my offsets and away we went.
    It came out wonderfully! Everyone loved it and as I was serving the first half punctuated with sips of my wine in a can, I gave the express lesson on Samuel German and Mrs George Clay.
    PS I will be make more of the filling or was so tasty and would go great over ice cream, pancakes, a spoon…

    1. Char

      Cup4cup is a great gluten free substitute for regular flour, as is Authentic Foods Gluten Free Flour. Both are kind of pricey and both are available on Amazon. Have also heard good things about the gluten free flour from King Arthur Flour. Depending on your flour, you might need to:
      – add extra baking soda, as gluten free flours tend to be a bit heavier and need more lifting power
      – add xanthan gum, to help emulsify the mixture
      – swap some of the liquid for additional eggs, to replace proteins that are missing from the wheat flour.
      Company websites have tips for how to adapt recipes, and there are tons of online articles written about this.
      All that said, I would consider using a tried and true gluten free chocolate cake recipe rather than adapting the recipe above, and then just use the topping/filling on it. I like personally like Jamie Oliver’s (search gluten free chocolate cake on his website).

  131. Molly K

    Just made this for my Aunt’s upcoming birthday. The batter made a little more than 12 cupcakes and just adjusted the baking time down. Now for the filling/icing, my family is deeply divided on coconut and roasted pecans. So I made two batches of filling – one with roasted pecans one with raw pecans and both without the coconut. Both were delish and I could have eaten it straight out of the pan. Will sprinkle coconut on some of the cupcakes for those who like it. As usual the instructions and details were spot on and very helpful especially in cooking the filling. Can’t wait for the rest of my family to try it!

  132. Char

    Hey there! First of all, your finished cake is gorgeous! I love all of the colors!
    I was wondering about baking the layers in thinner layers vs torting/splitting them, as I despise splitting them and agree that it always looks better.
    How does baking thinner layers affect the baking time? I’m assuming it’s less, but at what point should I be starting to check my cakes? Even a guess here will work for me :)
    Would it affect the cake texture at all (do I need to worry about dry cake)?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. deb

      Check the cake at the halfway point in the estimate baking time, and then every 5 minutes after that if it’s not done. I don’t think you need to worry about dry cake. I prefer a cake where the layers really match, and I think you’ll find this much easier.