Saturday, February 23, 2013

Salad Cake!

Happy Birthday!  Here's some... salad?  Yeah, I know, I don't get it either.  But that's OK, because it wasn't for me or for anyone I know.  That's right- this was my first COMMISSIONED cake in Boston!  Bakery here I come!  This would also be a good time to announce that...:
I will be taking a leave of absence from MSPP next semester (once they approve it, at least), and will be enrolling in pastry school at Bunker Hill Community College here in Boston.  I found the program completely by accident, and I thought to myself, "OH MY GOD.  I HAVE TO DO THIS!"  So I am.  

I have been wondering a lot whether or not this is the right school for me, or even the right field for me, so I decided to take some time to figure it out.  However, as soon as I made the decision, I immediately began to regret it.  What if I really do want to be in the field of psychology?  I've been doing a lot of mental pacing about what I want to be doing with my life lately.

Today, I made the most amazing cake I have ever made, and literally danced around my kitchen.  I even SANG about this cake.  I know that in order for me to be that happy, baking has to be part of my life in some large capacity.  So maybe pastry school is right for me right now.

OK- now about this culinary masterpiece!  Two weeks ago, I got a text from my friend Nicole.  It said, "Luke wants to know if you can make a cake for his friend that looks like a salad."  I thought, "seriously?!  A salad?  That's weird... but YES!  Challenge excepted!"  I immediately began sketching and planning, and asked several esteemed bakers (aka my friend Meg and my siblings) for consultations.  I seriously dreamt about making this cake for two weeks.

Salad Cake
Green Vanilla Butter Cake, Filled with Pistachio Cream, Covered in Green Salted Vanilla Buttercream, and Decorated with Candy
Cake Recipe adapted from here
Filling idea adapted from Meg

Cake Ingredients
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used soy)
2 tsps vanilla
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsps baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
About 40-50 drops green food coloring

Making the Cake:
Whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla until well combined.  Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Then add the butter one piece at a time until uniform in texture.   
Line the bottoms of 2 8" baking pans with parchment paper, then grease and flour the sides
Slowly stir in the liquid ingredients until combined.  Then switch to medium speed for 3 minutes until fluffy.
 *The heat wasn't working in my kitchen when I made this cake, so my "room-temperature butter" was still pretty solid.  Your batter shouldn't look this lumpy.*

Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans.  Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes. 
Cool cakes in pans on wire racks for 20 minutes, then remove from pans and invert onto racks until cooled completely.
You should have a cool green cake
Prepare your filling. 
I used a packet of instant pistachio pudding with 1 1/3 cups whole milk instead of the 2 cups of milk they recommend, because I wanted it to be thicker so it would not run out of the center of the cake.

While the filling is chilling, (who doesn't love rhymes?!), start preparing your candy pieces to look like salad.
I used:
Olives (licorice tubes) 
Carrots (orange juju fish)
Lettuce (spearmint leaves candy)
Broccoli (green tootsi rolls, green air heads, and glitter sprinkles)
Tomatoes (red gummy fruit slices)
Onions (purple gummy fruit slices)

Slice licorice pieces and then make holes with a straw
Cut off the fins of the fish to make carrots
Microwave about 3 spearmint leaves at a time for 5 seconds.  Then place them one at a time between two sheets of parchment paper and role out to desired length with a rolling pin 

Now that all the vegetables are made, we can start assembling the cake.
First, shave the tops of the cakes so that they are even and flat.
Place a good layer of filling in the middle of the cake, leaving an inch of space from the edges
Invert the second layer on top, pressing gentle to adhere.  Then refrigerate while you make the icing.
For my salted buttercream, I always use this ratio:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
green food coloring (I used 50-60 drops)

Carefully place a large amount of frosting on the top of the cake, and then work your way down the sides.
It doesn't have to be perfect, because we are going to put it inside a bowl
 I very carefully, (or more actually, literally) picked up the cake and then dropped it into a 9 1/2" diameter aluminum container.  I thought being in a bowl would help to create that salad look.

Then carefully add your leaves in whatever way you want.  Salads aren't perfect, so it should look a little messy.
Then use the extra buttercream as glue for the rest of the veggies.
I added two little salad serving forks, and wrote "Happy Birthday" and "Max" on them

Of all the cakes I've made to date, I would have to say that this one is my favorite.  This salad really takes the cake.  HAHAHA.  Sorry, I think I'm a little goofy because I'm still a little high off the the satisfaction that comes with doing what you love.  Thank you, Luke, for giving me the reason and the inspiration to make this cake.  Max, whoever you are, I hope you have a really awesome birthday, and that you really like this cake.

Love and cookies,

1 comment:

  1. THIS IS AMAZING!! (but my favorite is still the zucchini-camping-kinda healthy-kinda gluten-free cake). I'm excited for you to be going to pastry school!!