Shortly before we moved, we had my 20 week ultrasound, known to many of you parents and parents-to-be as the anatomy scan. This is the BIG ultrasound. The one where the tech or doctor will ask, “Would you like to know the gender or your baby?” I had been very undecided about finding out – leaning towards not, but Kyle knew he wanted to know. Combined with two votes from the girls, his vote won out and we answered, “Yes.” Within moments the doctor asked, “Do you have a name picked out for him?” HIM! A BOY! To be completely honest, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, and that was a full month ago! It’s not that I thought it would be a girl, it’s just that having a boy feels very… unreal. For a while there I was coasting along on other people’s excitement, but now I’m getting genuinely excited about having a son!
Kyle and I had attended the appointment without Gigi and Lulu because, as exciting as finding out the gender can be, the rest of the anatomy scan is rather boring in relation… especially if you’re not the parent of the baby. Seeing the spine, heart, fingers, kidneys, and toes can be intriguing and wonderful when it’s your baby, but this somehow doesn’t translate with it’s your sibling.
We’d decided that having some surprise for our family would be fun, so I set out to make a gender reveal cake to share the exciting news with the girls. I’d bought both pink and blue food coloring, and had all of the ingredients lined up and ready to be whipped into a “surprise, you’re going to have a brother/sister!” cake. After we came home from our appointment, Kyle took the girls off to play at the park so that I had plenty of time to cook, cool, and frost a bright blue cake… or, to be more accurate, a four layer blue ombré buttermilk and champagne cake frosted with crème fraîche frosting flecked with pink and blue chips. I got the idea of the chips from my friend Ashley, who has a brilliant version of a rainbow chip cake in her cookbook and on her blog.
Gigi had been “wishing for a brother”, while Lulu would empathically declare that it was “a girl who’s name was going to be Pippi Longstocking/Cinderella”. When Kyle and the girls returned home from the park we got right to the point, enjoying a slice of the cake for snack. Before we cut into the cake I explained, for Lulu’s sake, that the cake was either going to be PINK! or it was going to be BLUE! and what each of those colors would mean. Lulu said, “Actually, it’s going to be pink or pink.” Luckily, at the last moment, as Kyle had the knife poised to slice through the creamy frosting, into the delicate, blue layers, Lulu changed her allegiance and decided she’d like to a have a brother, too.
The kids were ecstatic, although Lulu informed us that she was more excited about the cake than the baby (fair enough), that this baby is a boy. While there’s still a part of me that wishes I could have been surprised too, it’s been so much fun knowing that we’ll be welcoming a little boy into our family. With all the major changes going on in the months since learning I was pregnant, and that will be continuing up until he’s born, it’s actually been really nice to know the gender. Getting to surprise the girls was a wonderful way to celebrate, and I’ll take any excuse to bake a cake.
This particular cake has four layers each increasing slightly in color, so the bottom layer is pale blue, and the top is a dark, bright blue, and the layers are flecked with blue white chocolate chips. The cake batter is made with buttermilk, and spiked with champagne to make it really celebratory, as well as making the cake itself light and delicate. The alcohol from the champagne is cooked out, leaving behind a wonderful wine-y flavor that is perfect for an expecting mom to enjoy.
The cakes are frosted with a sweet, tart, creamy frosting that borders on rich buttercream, but is slightly lightened by the addition of crème fraîche. The frosting is also studded with colored chips. You could substitute the crème fraîche for room temperature cream cheese (8oz. should do it) if you don’t feel like making crème fraîche, can’t find it, or would simply prefer a slightly more traditional frosting. The frosting with it’s bright chips and playfulness, is the perfect compliment to a rather sophisticated cake. It’s enough to feed several friends and family members, so if you’re planning any sort of gender reveal celebration, it would be plenty of cake to share with a room full of people squealing, “IT’S A _____!!!!!”.
A quick note on the food coloring. The amount of coloring that you use will depend on a number of factors: the brand, the type (liquid vs. gel), and the depth of color you’d like. Gel coloring goes a long way and is much richer, but requires some forethought to get a hold of. I used Wilton brand blue and magenta gel coloring for this cake – which I found at Safeway, but there are loads of different brands, higher quality kinds, and hundreds of great colors available online.
OMBRE GENDER REVEAL CAKE
pink (or magenta) food coloring or coloring gel OR blue food coloring or coloring gel 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (plus more for greasing the cake pans)
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup Champagne or sparkling wine
1 cup buttermilk
4 oz pink OR blue chips
canola or vegetable oil spray
1 cup crème fraîche (or you could substitute with 8oz of room temperature cream cheese), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
7 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 oz pink chips
4 oz blue chips
Pink and Blue Chips Ingredients.
12 oz white chocolate chips
pink (or magenta) food coloring or coloring gel blue food coloring or coloring gel
Pink and Blue Chip Directions.
Lay out a large sheet of parchment paper.
Split the white chocolate chips into two glass microwave safe bowls. One bowl will have 8 oz of chips, the other will have 4 oz. You’ll color the 8 oz pink if you’re having a girl, blue if it’s a boy – and the 4 oz will be colored for the gender you’re NOT having. You’ll need to work quickly once the chocolate is melted because it will start to set right away.
Start with the bowl filled with the 8 oz of white chocolate chips. Microwave in 5-10 second spurts, stirring the chocolate after each spurt in the microwave until it’s just melted – being careful not to overheat it. Quickly stir in the desired amount of food coloring (matching the gender of your baby) until thoroughly combined, and spread out the melted, colored chocolate into a thin layer on the parchment paper and allow it to cool.
Next melt the 4 oz of white chocolate chips following the same method, but this batch will be the opposite color (the color matching the gender that you’re NOT having). Spread out the melted, colored chocolate into a thin layer on the parchment paper and allow it to cool.
Once the chocolate has cooled and set, chop it up into small chip-size pieces, keeping the colors separated. Set aside 4 oz from the 8 oz batch, these will be folded into the cake batter. Combine the remaining 4oz of pink and 4 oz of blue, tossing to mix. Set aside.
Prepare two 9” round cake pans by greasing them with butter and lining the bottoms with parchment paper. Lightly flour the sides of the pans after the parchment is pressed into place. Preheat the oven to 350oF.
Sift together the flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream together the sugar and the butter until the mixture is pale in color, and fluffy in texture.
With the mixer running on low, add the eggs, one a time, allowing each to fully mix in before adding the next. Scrape down the sides if needed.
Add the vanilla.
Add 1 cup of the dry ingredients, allow to combine.
Add the buttermilk, allow to combine.
Add another cup of the dry ingredients, allow to combine. Add the Champagne, allow to combine.
Finally, add the remainder of the dry ingredients, allow to combine, being careful not to over-mix.
Use a kitchen scale (or measuring cup) measure out four equal parts of the batter, dividing the batter into four bowls. Color each bowl in increasing shades of blue, starting with the palest one and working your way up in saturation.
Pour two of the batters into the two prepared cake pans. Smooth the batter evenly in the pan. Place the pans in the oven on the middle rack and bake, rotating them 180o once halfway through baking, for 20-25 minutes. They’re done when the center is set, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean except for a couple crumbs.
Transfer the cake pans to cooling racks and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Line two cooling racks with parchment paper, and lightly spray the paper with canola or vegetable oil, before carefully inverting the cakes onto the cooling racks. I place the greased parchment and cooling rack on top of the cake pan before flipping the whole lot over to release the cake from the pan.
Re-grease and line the pans before filling with the remaining two batters, baking, and cooling the final cake layers as directed above.
Allow to cakes to cool completely before assembling your cake. While the cakes are cooling, prepare your frosting.
In a stand mixer combine the butter and crème fraîche, churning them together to combine as much as possible, slowly increasing the speed to avoid splattering. The nature of the crème fraîche won’t allow them to thoroughly combine, but once the powdered sugar is added it will come together. Turn the mixer off, add in all of the powdered sugar, and slowly increase the speed until the frosting is a light, pale white, and is fluffy and airy. Reduce the speed to low, add the vanilla, and the combined pink and blue chips. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Line your platter with four sections of parchment leaving a space the middle for the cake to go. Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of the platter to hold the cake in place. Place the first (lightest) layer of cake down in the center of the platter. Using an offset spatula, place about half a cup of the frosting in the center of the cake, slowly spreading outward towards the edges. Remove excess frosting, ensuring that it’s level, before adding the second (slightly darker) layer of cake.
Repeat the frosting and layering method until you get to the top (darkest) layer. Place this final layer on upside down so you have a nice, flat surface on the top of your cake. Place lots of frosting on top of the cake, spreading out with the offset spatula and over the edges, down the sides, to completely frost the cake. Take a moment to ensure that
every bit is covered so as not to spoil the surprise color inside! Carefully remove the four sections of parchment from the platter.
Enjoy the cake with loved ones!