Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Adventures in Cake Decorating

This past weekend, we enjoyed celebrating our son's 2nd birthday with friends and family.  Basically, an excuse to put my culinary curiosities into motion! Read: eat chocolate.

I googled cake recipes, searching for a sheet cake recipe, as I had planned on a Train theme cake.  The sheet cake would be the ground.

King Arthur Flour is a staple brand in my flour consumption.  I found this recipe and was really happy with it.  A beautiful crumb, substantial, yet light and rich at the same time.

I really don't like sticky sweet frostings.  Most of the store bought ones make me want to gag.  The frosting I made was so freaking good you may start dreaming about it after it's eaten.  My sister-in-law claimed she'd like to throw her head into an entire bowl and live there.  Or something like that.  Get my point? It's that good.

German Buttercream Frosting
adapted from Bravetart

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 vanilla pods
  • 12 oz. sugar
  • 1 1/2 oz. corn starch
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 sticks butter (1 lb), softened
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
  1. Prepare a pudding.  Split the vanilla beans, and drop into milk.  Bring to a simmer.  Allow to steep for about 10 minutes.  Remove pods, then scrape the insides out and put them back into the milk.  Put the milk back on to a simmer.  
  2. Stir together sugar, corn starch, egg yolks & eggs.  Whisk in about half of the simmering milk, stirring rapidly with a wire whisk the entire time.  Add the tempered egg mixture to the pan and bring to a boil.  Stirring the ENTIRE time.  Once the mixture is bubbling, cook for one minute.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Place pudding into a mixing bowl and mix on medium until cooled to room temperature.  You can also chill in the refrigerator with some plastic wrap pressed firmly on the surface of the pudding.
  4. Once the pudding has COMPLETELY chilled, put it back into your stand-up mixer.  Crank that baby up and let it get creamy.  Now here comes the magical part.  Start throwing in that butter.  Tablespoon by tablespoon, drop into the running mixture, allowing it to incorporate after each addition.  It will get more and more fluffy as it mixes.  Don't over mix or it will get dry looking.
  5. Mix in 12 oz melted dark or milk chocolate for a decadent and beautifully shiny chocolate frosting or tint with coloring or flavoring.  I divided mine in about half and used about 6 oz of bittersweet chocolate, melted in the microwave, then stirred carefully into the remaining frosting.

My cake decorating skills obviously suck, but I really don't care.  What I care about most is a cake that tastes good.  Fondant has always grossed the shit out of me.  I don't care how pretty the damn thing is.  If it tastes like plastic, it is a failure, IMO.  

So, this cake?  It's supposed to be a train.

I used colored sugar sprinkles and natural food dye from Chocolate Candy Kits.  The colors don't turn out nearly as bright as conventional food dyes, but I made it work.  I was going for a red for the front train car, but it was only going to a darker pink.  A little bit of yellow and voila! Orange-ish. . .  

The sprinkles were yummy! Reminded me of the cookie filling in those ice cream cakes we'd get when we were kids from Carvel.

I also made this banner out of scraps and pieces from my stash.  So everyone could enjoy it on his or her birthday, I made it multi-colored.  I like to keep my scraps of fusible interfacing fabrics in zippered plastic bags by color.  I have all of these in a large plastic bin.  It makes it really easy to be able to grab a scrap of, say, yellow, and cut a moon quickly to add to an applique scene.

Each flag is backed by matching fabrics.  I simply strait-stitched the letters on and serged the edges in colorful threads.

My boy had a blast with everyone.  Ripping thru wrapping paper like an old pro.  Afterwards was just as fun, blowing up balloons and investigating coolers.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

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