Number Cake Recipe

A Number Cake, also called a Cream Tart or Alphabet Cake, is a trendy way to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or new year! These number "cakes" are really more like cookie tarts since the base is made of crisp shortbread with creamy filling rather than a more traditional sponge cake with buttercream. When freshly prepared, the shorbread tarts are crisp and pair well with fruits and creamy whipped ganache. You personalize these number cakes with the garnishes you choose to decorate them with. Nothing is off limits! You can use chocolate decorations, fruits, edible gold leaf, macarons, meringues, marzipan sculptures, and anything else you can dream of.

This is a rather easy recipe requiring only a few components, but the one thing you'll need is a set of stencils to shape perfectly even numbers. You can either buy a set or make your own by printing out the numbers you need on simple printer paper.

Ingredients

Makes 2 Single-Digit Number Cakes

Whipped Ganache Topping
  • 250 grams white chocolate couverture chocolate, such as Callebaut (8.8 ounces)
  • 500 grams heavy whipping cream, 30-35% fat (17.6 ounces, 2 cups)
  • 35 grams strawberry, blueberry, or other fruit purée (1.2 ounces, 1/6 cup), Optional
Whipped Ganache Topping
Shortcrust Base
  • 300 grams all-purpose flour (10.6 ounces)
  • 75 grams almond flour (2.6 ounces, 1/2 cup)
  • 130 grams sugar (4.6 ounces, 3/5 cup)
  • 200 grams unsalted butter, softened (7.0 ounces, 7/8 cup, 1 7/8 stick)
  • 1 large egg (55 grams, 1.9 ounces)
Shortcrust Base
Assembly
  • 10 strawberries, or any fruit of your choosing that suits the flavors (Optional)
  • 12 almond dragées (Optional)
  • 8 macarons, store bought or homemade (Optional)
  • 8 fresh roses, gently washed (Optional)
  • 6 dried meringues (Optional)
Assembly

Equipment

Prepare the Whipped Ganache Topping

  1. Scald the heavy whipping cream by heating in a saucepan until it is starting to bubble, just below boiling.
  1. Transfer the hot ganache to a hotel pan or bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 3 hours or overnight. While it is very liquid now, it will cool to a softer paste.

  2. If you are using a fruit purée, divide the chocolate ganache in half and mix the fruit into one of the halves.

  1. Load two piping bags with each half of the whipped ganache fitted with a round pastry tip such as Wilton 1A or Ateco 808.

Prepare Shortcrust Base

The shorcrust base can be prepared a day in advance of assembly.

  1. Preheat the oven to 340°F (171°C) in preparation for baking the shortcrust numbers.

  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale by beating with a stand mixer or hand beater, about 1 minute. Beat in the egg until fully incorporated.

  3. Sift together the all-purpose flour and almond flour.

  1. Make sure you roll out the dough on the mat which you will use to bake. Do not try to transfer the dough or you risk cracked or misshapen numbers.
  1. Bake the shortcrust at 340°F (171°C) for 12-15 minutes until the shortcrust numbers are golden and lightly browned around the edges.
  1. Set the shortcrust tarts aside until ready for piping the whipped ganache topping.

Assembly

  1. Pipe some practice drops of chocolate ganache on a piece of parchment paper. Get a feel for the pressure and motion of the tip to create uniform rows.
  1. Take the second number of each tart and place it gently on the piped ganache of the bottom base.
  1. Finish assembly with 4 macarons, 4 roses, and the dragées.

How to Store

After exposure to the whipped ganache, the shortcrust tart will begin to soften from the moisture, making it easier to cut. If you prefer a more crisp texture, enjoy the tarts immediately. For a softer texture, enjoy your number cake after an hour or two in the refrigerator. Number cakes can be refrigerated and stored for 24-48 hours, but be aware of the garnishes you choose (flowers can wilt or and sliced strawberries can dry out).


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