Sunday, March 10, 2013

Epic Cake for an Epic Birthday

One of my dear friends and fellow interns, Marisol, has a big birthday coming up next week.  She will be the big 3-0, and she is not excited about it.  She even named the event on Facebook "Dino Party" because she feels so old.  I had amazing plans of making her a dinosaur birthday cake, but when I asked her boyfriend about it, he told me she doesn't like cake.  Well that sucks.  There goes my cake idea...

Then- out of nowhere- Marisol texted me asking me if I could make a cake for her party.  She told me that she does like some cakes, but she really wanted it for her party guests.  I decided that I was going to MAKE Marisol like cake, and I was going to achieve this by baking the most epic birthday cake possible.  I was going to make her the rainbow cake that I had been saving for the perfect occasion.  A rainbow cake is a visually beautiful, yet technically difficult and time-consuming process.  It involves baking 6-7 individual different colored layers of cake.  Then you stack them on top of each other in a sky-high cake and hope it doesn't fall over.  Then you decorate it however you want.  This isn't a cake you'd make for any old birthday, no, this is definitely a cake worthy of a 30th birthday for a person that makes your life sunshine and rainbows when you are at your super-difficult internship.  This was is a cake for Marisol.

However, I wasn't sure that the rainbow layers were going to be enough.  I wanted to make sure she was going to LOVE this cake.  So I decided to add something she is obsessed with- FROGS!  I'm not great at shaping cakes, so I decided to decorate the cake like a pond and then put frogs on it, instead of making a giant frog.  BINGO.  Cutest-Most-Epic-Birthday-Cake-Ever!  WOOHOO.

Rainbow Layered Frog Pond Cake
Recipe adapted from Plant Food Fabulous
Yield: 1 epic 6-layer birthday cake

Cake Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
5 large egg whites
2 tsps vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole milk
LOTS of gel food coloring (assorted colors)

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add in vanilla, then egg whites, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately, starting and ending with the dry
Mix on medium until smooth. 
Divide batter as evenly as possible between 6 bowls (about 1 cup of batter)
Add food coloring to achieve desire colors
Grease and flour the sides of your baking pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Bake the cakes two at a time at 350°F for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool cakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then invert cakes directly onto racks to finish cooling completely.  Continue baking the rest of the cakes.

I used old baking powder, (OOPS), and didn't sift my dry ingredients very well.  The baking powder made little warts on the tops of all the cakes, so they were a little unsightly.  But that's OK, because they get stacked and covered with frosting anyway.  Moral of the story: use fresh ingredients and don't be lazy.  Sift those flours!  (But let's be real- I'll probably still stick to my whisk method for now...)

I baked the cakes at night, so I stacked them on top of each other (with the parchment paper still attached) and stuck them in the refrigerator over night.  It's not ideal, but it works just fine.

Cake Assembly

Step 1: Make a basic vanilla buttercream for stacking the cakes and a crumb coat.  Use this recipe here, and then add 2-3 Tbs whole milk to thin it down.  I like a softer frosting for the base.
Beautiful, fluffy glory
Step 2: Layer the cakes.

Stack the cakes in any order you wish, spreading a thin layer of buttercream between each layer.
Step 3:  Now it's time for the crumb coat.  A crumb coat is a base layer of frosting that sort of holds the cake together and prevents those pesky crumbs from ruining the look of your outer buttercream or fondant layer.

Step 4: Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes to set the crumb coat.

Step 5: While the cake is in the refrigerator, make your decorations.  I dyed marzipan green and made a little family of frogs.  I am definitely not an artist.  Then I made lily pads out of green Air Heads.

Use gloves unless you like sticky, green hands
Marzipan frogs with buttercream eyes, sprinkle pupils, and Air Head lily pads
Step 6: Make a second batch of buttercream, reserve about 1/2 a cup, and then add blue food coloring.  Then coat your cake.

Step 7: Add your frogs, lily pads, and swedish fish so that they adhere to the frosting.

Step 8: Finish decorating with extra buttercream.  I added more blue food coloring to the blue for the outline accents, and then dyed the reserve buttercream pink for the lily pad flowers.

Step 9: Surprise your friends with the cutest cake ever!

TA DA!  ¡Feliz cumple, Marisol!  I hope this cake made your 30th a little less traumatizing!

Love and cookies,

1 comment:

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