Tag Archives: cake

The Tree Cake

I love Christmas. I think the original reason behind it is pretty stupid, of course, but I love the commercialized, pretty, sparkly, gift-giving Christmas. I love Christmas trees and lights and cookies and ornaments and paper. I love wrapping gifts and tearing open gifts and giving the perfect gift. I love seeing the skirt under the tree slowly be covered by gifts. I love the smell of pine in the house. Okay, I will stop. I think you get the point.

Last year I decided to combine my love of cakes with my love of Christmas. Voila!

20131225_150340And can I just say that the frosting on this cake was amazing (it’s the rich buttercream recipe from the New Best Recipe). The star on top was a sugar cookie. The “gifts” are candy-coated grahams. Gumdrops, red hots, sprinkles and those little sugar pearls round out the rest of the decorations. In case you’re wondering, this is all cake and frosting. There’s a skewer down the center, but no other non-edible support.

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The Pinkie Pie Cake

Last winter my niece turned 2. For her birthday she had, thanks to someone who does not, apparently, understand the brains of 2 year-olds, a Pinkie Pie Pool Party. Now what, you might ask, is a Pinkie Pie Pool Party, and, more importantly, why am I telling you about it?

A PPPP is a pool party with a Pinkie Pie (character on My Little Pony) theme. For those of you who do not know, My Little Pony is no longer a thing of the past. It made a comeback (along with a new phenomenon – the Brony). My sister hosted a birthday party for a 2 year-old in a hotel with a “water park”. I put water park in quotes here because it is only a water park if you are under the age of, say, 6. The plates, the table cloths, the rest of the decor – it was all Pinkie Pie. The crowning glory, in my oh so very humble opinion, was the cake.

Some of you may have seen past cakes of mine, although I have only posted about a few – the Texas cake, the dump truck cake, and the Colosseum (I am far prouder of the first two than the last). This Pinkie Pie cake is quite possibly my favorite. I switched from fondant (let’s face it, fondant does not taste good) to modeling chocolate with Pinkie Pie. It was the best choice I could possibly have made. I’m not even sure why anyone uses fondant given the existence of modeling chocolate (side note about this link: read the entire page before attempting modeling chocolate. In fact, read it twice. Excellent instructions, but you won’t be sorry you read it multiple times).

I had a few goals for this cake:

  1. Make a Pinkie Pie figure to sit on the cake
  2. Make it rainbow (special request from my sister)
  3. Make it awesome

The beginning:

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The middle:

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The end:

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Actually, this was the end:

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I enjoyed decorating this cake. Making it was another story, as making a truly rainbow cake is a lot of work. No really, a lot. I also loved the look on each person’s face when they saw the cake for the first time (and again when they saw the inside, and again when they ate it because it was actually quite delicious).

If you’re wondering how I made Pinkie Pie, it was freehand. I just pulled up a lot of Google image results for her (and then for her pet alligator, Gummy) and did the best that I could. I don’t have special tools so I just used what I had (paintbrush, tweezers, toothpicks, you get the idea). My only other tip is to use gel food coloring for the chocolate and remember to be careful about the temperature both as you make the modeling chocolate and as you mold it.

If you are wondering about how to make a cake rainbow there are plenty of how-tos out there. I would look for a how-to elsewhere, but add the caveat that many will have you make one layer rainbow and the other a reverse rainbow (as in purple is the biggest arc and red is the smallest). I hated that idea. If you are like me, you will need to divide your batter differently (you need more for the red and orange and a lot less for blue and purple) than most of the how-tos suggest.

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The Dump Truck

My nephew turned 2 this week. His birthday party was on Saturday and he spent about five minutes staring at his cake saying, “Dump truck.” He’s adorable, but that aside I want to share the photos of the cake with you.

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Unfortunately, as I do not have a personal photographer that follows me around, I have no cake-in-progress photos. Believe it or not my hands were almost constantly covered in one camera-unfriendly substance or another while I was making the cakes.

I’ll give you a brief run down of what I did. For starters, I made a base by covering a plastic tote container’s lid with brown paper similar to what paper bags are made of. I wanted the base to be sturdy – fondant is very heavy!

The truck is made of yellow cake that I baked in two loaf pans. Unfortunately, the cake didn’t rise properly. I had hoped to have a more complicated truck cab, but I had to make do with a very dense cake. One loaf I intentionally made thin – about an inch or so thick – to serve as the bed on which the box rested. The other loaf was used for the cab. I cut it in half and frosted the two halves together. These were all covered in marshmallow fondant (which I highly recommend – in the past I’d used a fondant recipe with gelatin and corn syrup that was difficult to get at the right consistency).

The cab is resting on part of a cake mix box covered in foil. I made my first two cakes from recipes, but was frustrated and worried about how much cake I ended up with. I bought a mix to be sure I had something decent to serve. Hilariously my scratch chocolate cake turned out the best.

The “dirt” mounds are incredibly easy. I baked the cake in a Pampered Chef bowl that my Aunt gave me last Christmas. It’s called the classic batter bowl, but resembles a large liquid measuring cup. I then covered the mounds in chocolate frosting and rolled/dipped them in chocolate cookie crumbs. Frosting just the round side of the cake, holding it on either unfrosted end and rolling it in the cookie crumbs worked quite well. I also made a mini cake in a ramekin, which I covered in graham cracker crumbs – “sand.”

Headlights, taillights and the lights on top of the cab are M&Ms. The wheels are chocolate covered donuts with M&Ms for hub caps. The smoke stacks are white chocolate covered pretzel rods. The side mirrors are white chocolate-covered graham cracker pieces with aluminum foil as the “mirror” part. The “grass patches” are green frosting with green M&Ms and flower cut-outs of fondant (again thanks to my Aunt for the fondant cutters!). To make the tire tread I brushed Crisco onto the paper and then brushed cocoa powder over it.

Finally, the box of the dump truck: Using graham crackers and icing I made a box – bottom and four sides. To do this, I had to cut two of the graham crackers down because they were too long. The bottom had three crackers two side by side with one underneath covering the overlap. Once this was set up, I mixed up rice crispy treats and pushed it into the box. I formed the mound of “dirt” in the box and covered the rice crispy treat in cookie crumbs. The following day I covered the sides of the box in a reddish pink colored fondant and painted over that with a red edible paint made of water, corn starch, and red food coloring.

My sister asked for a dump truck cake for my nephew, so I hit up the internet for ideas. These were helpful:

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A Cake for Texas

Last month a coworker of mine announced plans to move to Texas. This coworker was the friendliest and most helpful of all the people at my new job. Though I had only known her for a few weeks when she announced her plans to leave I wanted to do something nice for her.

As you know by now, making elaborate cakes is a bit of a hobby of mine. I combined my hobby with my desire to do something nice. Making elaborate cakes is a good outlet for my creative side, which is mostly useless in my job.

I sketched out a design for the cake – the seal of Texas. I also decided to take this opportunity to use marzipan in addition to fondant.

I made a yellow cake with brown sugar icing, which is quite a delicious combination. The fondant, as always, was a bit heavy, and I wasn’t very impressed with the flavor of marzipan.

As always, I forgot to take photos of the process. This is the top of the cake, but I did add a bit more to the design before I was done.

For some reason the seal of the state of Texas has an olive branch and an oak branch.

This is a photo of the top of the cake after I finished. You can see there are olives, leaves and acorns along the edge of the cake.

This is also a final image of the cake. My coworker really liked it.

I’m always a little amazed by how difficult it is to get a photo that gives a real impression of a cake.

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