Chocolate-Vanilla Layer Cake with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Mousse Buttercream (aka Tyler's Groom's Cake)

chocolate-vanilla layer cake with raspberry filling and chocolate mousse buttercream

Almost two weeks ago, Carolyn and Tyler (my sis- and brother-in-law) tied the knot. As a surprise for Tyler, Carolyn and I designed this groom’s cake — complete with a Transformer topper and green Army men (he’s a Marine, it’s fun to tease him). It’s such a relief being able to speak freely about it now!

I really love that the groom’s cake tradition is having a comeback. I mean really, I’m never going to be disappointed if there’s more cake to be had. If you want to read more about their origins, the single woman superstition and some modern twists, The New York Times published a great article last year. Carolyn even started a new tradition of her own, she requested a gluten-free cake in order to accommodate the allergies of a good handful of guests.

A peek inside the cake (Chocolate-Vanilla Layer Cake with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Mousse Buttercream)

This cake was a blast to make, my first EVER over two layers. (It’s actually the one to blame for my monthlong multilayer cake craze!) A five-layer cake may seem extravagant, excessive, overwhelmingly complicated, but only one of those adjectives — the first — is true.

If you’ve made a two-layer cake before, adding three more is no big deal. It’s the same exact process. (And even if you’ve never made a cake before, I talk you through all of the steps — and provide pictures of each — so you’ll be just as successful as the pros.) It’s only six inches wide — my favorite petite size, allowing for a nice rotating variety of cakes in my fridge — so it’s really not that much cake. It only gets to be extravagant because once stacked it’s about the same number of inches tall as it is wide. But really that is just a thing of symmetrical beauty, amiright?

What kind of multilayer cake would you like me to tackle next? I have a Boston Cream Pie in the works and one incorporating mango, but am open to suggestions!

My Slice (Chocolate-Vanilla Layer Cake with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Mousse Buttercream)

Chocolate-Vanilla Five Layer Cake with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Mousse Buttercream

(buttercream very heavily adapted from Tartine, Bûche de Noël)

Preparation Time: 1 1/2 – 2 hours

Inactive Preparation Time: 3 hours+

Baking Time: 40 – 45 minutes

Serves: 8+


Raspberry Filling:

  • 12 ounce package frozen raspberries
  • 144 grams (3/4 cup) granulated white sugar
  • 14 grams (1 tablespoon) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 57 grams (1/4 cup) water

Cake Pans:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Millet flour

Chocolate Cake:

  • Dry Ingredients:
  • 96 grams (1/2 cup) golden brown sugar, packed
  • 24 grams (2 tablespoons) granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 37 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) millet flour
  • 37 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) garbanzo fava flour
  • 48 grams (1/4 cup) potato starch
  • 19 grams (2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder¹
  • 20 grams (1/4 cup) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • Wet Ingredients:
  • 57 grams (2 ounces) bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)³, melted and cooled
  • 57 grams (1/4 cup) canola oil
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 5 grams (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 170 grams (3/4 cup) well-shaken buttermilk

White Cake:

  • 144 grams (3/4 cup) granulated white sugar
  • 37 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) millet flour
  • 37 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) garbanzo fava flour
  • 48 grams (1/4 cup) potato starch
  • 19 grams (2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 57 grams (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 85 grams (6 tablespoons) whole milk
  • 5 grams (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract

Chocolate Mousse Buttercream:

  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 144 grams (3/4 cup) granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 170 grams (6 ounces or 12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 85 grams (3 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled


Make Raspberry Filling:

In a small, nonreactive saucepan (2-quart), combine raspberries through water. Place over medium heat, bring to a heavy simmer and cook for about 5 – 10 minutes. To test for doneness, the syrup mixture must thickly coat the back of the spoon, and when you run your finger through it (give it a few seconds to cool!) a distinct track remains (see photos below).

Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve — it’s quite thick so you’ll need to force it though with a heatproof utensil. Cool strained mixture to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until completely chilled and ready to fill cake. (Makes about 3/4 cup)

DO AHEAD: Raspberry filling may be made several days in advance.

Preheat Oven and Prep Cake Pans:

Position oven rack in the center, preheat to 350°F. Grease two a 6″ by 3″ tall round cake pans with removable bottom with butter and dust with millet flour (tap out excess); set aside.

Prepare Chocolate Cake Ingredients:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugars and salt for the chocolate cake. Using a fine mesh sieve, sift millet flour through cocoa powder into sugar mixture. Whisk together until combined; set aside.

In a small bowl (or two cup measuring cup), use a fork (or whisk) to stir together melted and cooled chocolate and oil. Add egg, mix until everything is nicely combined and thickened slightly (about 15 – 30 seconds). Stir in vanilla extract then buttermilk; set aside.


Make White Cake:

Combine the sugar through Kosher salt for the white cake in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk to combine. Add butter, fit mixer with paddle attachment and turn to medium-low. Blend until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (there won’t be any butter lumps like pie or tart crusts). Mix together egg whites through vanilla extract in a small, spouted bowl or measuring cup. With mixer running on medium, pour in liquid ingredients. Blend for about 1 minute or until mixture is smooth and forms ribbons that take about 30 seconds to dissolve.

Pour white cake batter into prepared pan, smooth top.

Finish Making Chocolate Cake:

Pour chocolate-buttermilk mixture into flour mixture and stir together just until lump free (use a rubber scraper to get any flour pockets that like to hide on the bottom).

Transfer chocolate cake batter into prepared pan, smooth top.

Bake Cakes:

Place both cake pans in preheated oven and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool for 15 minutes before removing from pans. Cool to room temperature, wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge to chill completely.

DO AHEAD: Cakes can be baked, cooled and stored in the fridge (wrapped in plastic wrap) a day or two in advance.

Make Buttercream:

For best results, prepare buttercream just before you’re ready to assemble the cake. Bring about 1″ of water to a simmer in a small saucepan set over medium heat. In a small, stainless steel bowl that fits on top of the saucepan without touching the water, whisk together egg whites, sugar and salt. Place bowl with eggs over simmering water; heat, whisking often, until they reach 120°F (only a couple minutes, no more than 5). Carefully remove bowl to several layers of kitchen towels, dry off exterior very well.

Pour egg white mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer, fit with whisk attachement and beat on high speed until firm peaks form (about 2 minutes). Transfer mixture to fridge for about 10 minutes to cool.

Drop a scant tablespoon of softened butter into meringue mixture, beat on medium-high speed until fully incorporated. (You’re essentially making an emulsification, just like mayonnaise or hollandaise, so it’s important to add the fat very slowly, especially those first few additions. For a while, it won’t look like much of anything. And if it begins to separate — appears kind of chunky or liquidy or curdled — just beat beat beat until it smooths out again, then continue adding the butter in smaller pieces, more slowly than before. Please don’t be intimidated, it just takes patience more than anything else.) Turn off machine. Repeat process until all of the butter is used and the buttercream is smooth. Scrape down bowl, add melted chocolate and beat until smooth and fluffy.

Assemble Cake:

Remove cakes and raspberry filling (stir well to loosen) from the fridge. Cover edges of a cake stand with several, small pieces of aluminum foil; crimp around the edges to keep it in place. (Alternately, a few sheets of wax or parchment paper will work &mdash it just moves around more, making it slightly more difficult to work with.)

Trim any roundness off the top of cakes so they’re level (freehand with a sharp breadknife or with the aid of a cake leveler.

Cut white cake into two layers and set aside. Cut chocolate cake into three, even layers. Remove one of the chocolate cake layers to the prepared cake stand (a cake lifter is helpful, but not totally essential).

(See see photos below for a visual how-to of the next steps.) Fit a pastry bag with coupler and Wilton #12 tip; fill with buttercream. With tip opening parallel to the cake surface and about 1/2″ above, pipe a dam just around the edges (an example from a previous recipe can be found here). Spoon about three tablespoons of the raspberry filling onto the cake; spread evenly over top. Top with one of the white cake layers; repeat dam, filling process (repeat with another chocolate and white cake layer).

Top with the final chocolate cake layer, squeeze any remaining buttercream from the pastry bag onto the top (doesn’t have to be neat) and use a small, offset spatula to spread it (add more as needed) into a light coating (crumb coat) on the top and sides. Place in the freezer for 5 minutes or so, just until crumb coat is firmed up to the touch. Once crumb coat is firm, spread remaining buttercream into a nice, even layer on the top and sides; use the spatula to make a whipped, stucco-like texture (optional).

Transfer cake to the fridge for an hour before serving. If it’s been in the fridge for several hours, remove from fridge about 15 – 30 minutes before slicing for the best texture.

raspberry filling: doneness test passed

raspberry filling: thickly coating the back of a spoon

the vision

buttercream dam piped, raspberry filling spread

ready for a crumb coat

crumb coated


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  • Reply
    Val @ Tips on Healthy Living
    June 28, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Impressed! This is a SERIOUS cake. It looks gorgeous and buttercream is my favorite.

  • Reply
    Heather Sage
    June 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Thank you, Val! There was definitely a lot of serious planning involved, execution on the other hand was a hoot — I could not stop smiling when yet another layer was added to the stack.

  • Reply
    Peter Block
    June 29, 2012 at 5:20 am

    i love these flavors together. can you send me a piece?

  • Reply
    Jennie @themessybakerblog
    June 29, 2012 at 6:54 am

    Love the flavors, and the cake is stunning! You have a beautiful site.

  • Reply
    Heather Sage
    June 29, 2012 at 7:28 am

    If only I hadn’t so greedily eaten it ALL already (I shared a few slices), Peter!

    Thank you, Jennie!

  • Reply
    Priscila Quiste
    November 26, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Can I use this buttercream to fill a cake and leave in the fridge for the next day?

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