Monday, January 4, 2010

To The Rescue!

This is my first post of the new year and I had to make it good, so I have for you a cake. Not just any cake, a grandiose cake. This is the cake I for the two boys I nanny for. Their birthdays were in November and the oldest turned 3 and the little one turned 1. If you'll remember I made an applesauce spice cake for his first birthday, but this cake was made for their birthday party.

Their mom originally chose a different theme a much simpler theme, but then she changed her mind and wanted a Wonder Pets themed cake. If you're not familiar with The Wonder Pets, they are 3 school house pets that turn into super heroes once school is out and rescue other pets in need of help. They make a fly boat out of materials they find in the classroom and fly to their destinations. There were no guidelines with this cake, just make it big enough to feed 40. Sometimes that great because I'm not limited by anything and other times it makes it even harder...because I'm not limited by anything! Boundaries can be a good thing.

So I knew from the beginning I wanted this to be a tiered cake. And I like things in 3's so it had 3 tiers. The bottom tier was a 9x13-inch chocolate cake, the middle tier was a 2-layer yellow cake with confetti in it and the top tier was a Wonder Pets fly boat made out of rice krispy treats and covered in fondant. The Wonder Pets characters- Linny, Ming Ming and Tuck, were purchased.

The chocolate cake was a cake I've made before. It was the one-bowl chocolate cake from Sky High Cakes and it was really delicious. But if you'll remember, I had issues with the cake sinking in the middle. Well a reader saw that I was having a problem and decided to tackle the issue herself. The cake originally did not contain eggs, but she added them and it was fine. So I tried it and it turned out perfectly. Thanks so much!

The yellow cake, was well, a disappointment. It was even more disappointing because the title of the yellow cake was Moist Yellow Cake and it was anything but moist. It was dry and crumbly. I should have known better when the recipe called for the cake to be spritzed with a sugar syrup. I have a problem with that. Cakes should be moist without adding moisture in that form, don't you think? The flavor was fine, but the texture all wrong. So I'm not going to post the recipe for the yellow cake, but you can find it on a mega blog who likes to make cake pops, under that title. If you want to make confetti cake, just mix in several tablespoons of sprinkles to a white or yellow cake recipe.

The cake was covered in vanilla bean buttercream and tinted blue and green to make it look like the sky and grass. The clouds (those were my favorite!) were piped with a #12 tip and the flowers were cut out of fondant. The mast on the boat was made with a wooden skewer and a couple pieces of notebook paper and colored pencils. And the wheels were fondant covered Oreos.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake adapted from Sky High

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8 or 9-inch pans. Line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper, butter the paper.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Use a wire whisk to blend the dry ingredients thoroughly.

Add the oil and 1/2 cup of the water to the dry ingredients. Add another 1/2 cup water, eggs and the vanilla; again whisk until smooth. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans.

Bake the cake layers for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes; then invert onto cooling rack. Remove the paper liners and let cool completely before frosting.

Makes 2- 8 or 9-inch layers or 1 9x13 cake. (I doubled this recipe and baked it in 2 pans).

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting adapted from Sky High

  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons water
  • 1 1/4 lbs. (5 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds out and set aside.

Put the egg whites in a large mixer bowl and set up the mixer for use. In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the sugar water and vanilla bean pods (not the seeds). Warm over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, washing any crystals from the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat.

Beat the egg whites on a medium -low speed until frothy. Remove the vanilla bean pods with thongs and set aside (rinse these and put in a bowl of sugar to make vanilla sugar). While beating, gradually pour in the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream, taking care not to hit the beaters. Continue to whip until the mixture is luke warm and a stiff meringue has formed.

If the bowl is the slightest bit warm, do not add the butter, it will melt! Reduce the speed to low and add the butter 2-3 Tablespoons at a time. When all of the butter is incorporated, return the mixer to medium and whip until the buttercream appears to curdle and then suddenly comes together. Add the vanilla bean seeds and the extract, and beat until well blended.

Makes 6 cups

This picture makes me laugh because he kept poking his finger in the frosting. Then he would whisper to me that he ate a cloud. :-)

44 comments:

Marie said...

What a beautiful cake Monica! I bet the boys really enjoyed it as well as the guests!

Donna-FFW said...

MONICA!! What a lovely, gorgeous, fun cake. Such amazing little details!I bet the boys LOVED it. You should be in business, such talent you have! Great photo of you three also.

cookies and cups said...

seriously, that cake is AWESOME!!! I love it!!!!!!
So creative with the Oreos and all.
So sad about the yellow cake too...I think we should put out a search for the best yellow cake recipe! I mean, it seems like a simple thing!
They must have loved it ~ such lucky little guys!

♥peachkins♥ said...

Lucky Boys... my daughter loves them too..

Sweet Baker Babes said...

Cute Cake- you really do some amazing things! I made that same yellow cake with high hopes and was also very disappointed!! Totally doesn't deserve its title!

Kerri said...

I came across your blogs just last week and I am addicted! I'm sitting with my grocery list looking for ingredients for this week's dinners! I'm going to try to tackle precious Jack's rainbow cupcakes for something very special to me coming up soon! Thanks for making cooking for my family so much fun!

Ms. K.I.M. said...

Oh how cute and so creative. How long did it take you to put it all together? And did you use dowels between the bottem and middle layer?

Mya said...

Incredible!! I think the Wonder Pets are so cute.

Mini Baker said...

Looks beautiful!!! Those clouds are so... cloud like!! hehe :)
-Mini Baker

Dawn said...

LOL! I love that last photo! Cutie pies!
You should open a cake shop girl, seriously.

Beth said...

Oh my gosh! This is awesome! Does she know how lucky she is to have you?!! Wonderful cake Monica.

steph said...

WOW - that cake is amazing. You are so talented!

Diana's Cocina said...

MONICA!! AWESOME!!! I;m taking a cake decorating class on Tuesday but, it will take me years to catch up with you! You are sooo talented! You inspire me!!!

Lissaloo said...

The cake is amazing!! Great job Monica!

Rachel (rachescakes) said...

Monica, this is AMAZING! You have improved so much since that first class just a couple months ago.

The Duchess of Wessex said...

What an Incredibly well executed cake! It is Perfect!

As is the photo of you with those two cute little boys - So Great!

tamilyn said...

What a precious picture of you and the boys! It looks amazing, like normal :)

Maria said...

Such a fun cake!

Susan S. said...

You are an awesome talent! I'm drooling at all the food pictures. :)

Happy New Year fellow Texas Blogger....from Houston, TX

Ingrid said...

It really turned out great! And I know the boys lovin' it just made it better.
~ingrid

The Food Librarian said...

Beautiful!!! This is sooo cute! Love it, and I'm sure it made everyone very very happy! - mary

Katie said...

What a gorgeous cake! Makes me smile just to look at it. Thanks for the tip with the chocolate cake, it looks a lovely texture.

girlichef said...

Those boys are simply gorgeous!! And just look at the wonder on their faces. Wonder! tee hee. Okay, seriously amazing cake...sooooo cool! Bummer about that middle layer, but it's so fabulous I bet nobody even noticed. I've said it before and I'll say it again...you are the bestest cake baker/decorator evah!

Debbie said...

That is a gorgeous cake Monica...absolutely adorable. You are one talented lady. I, too was really disappointed with a yellow cake I made over the holidays. I had found it in a woman's mag and it was supposed to be moist also. Hah! It was so dry I could barely get it out of the pan.....so you can imagine!!!!

Treehouse Chef said...

That cake is so incredble---it looks like a professional cake!
Great post! I really appreciate it when someone explains in detail exactly how the recipe turned out and tips on what went wrong or making it better. Cute picture of you and the boys. They are blessed to have you for a nanny!

Brandy L said...

Wow those are two lucky boys you get to nanny! They get a great caregiver and a great baker! I am sure they loved the cake you made for them.

Misc Momma said...

Wow. Just WOW. That is amazing.
~Tara

Old Road Primitives said...

OMGosh...You are incredible! I'm going to make one of your recipes today! Wish me luck! Kim

unconfidentialcook said...

WOWOWOW! How gorgeous is that??? Lucky kids (and adorable!).

A Feast for the Eyes said...

You have a gift! When are you opening your bakery or going into private cake orders? Monica! Helloooooooo! What a sweet story-- eating a cloud.
xoxo

Lemondrops Simple Stuff said...

I can't believe I just discovered your blog! Thank you for sharing such great recipes. I can't wait to make bacon and eggs, and blueberry sourcream bundt cake!!! I am posting a blog about your blog on my blog :) Thanks again!

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I am so impressed! You are so good at this, those boys must love having you for a nanny:)

Sue

Susan said...

oh my gosh! wow! you did such a beautiful job.

Kerstin said...

SO cute Monica - your cakes always blow me away!! Sorry the yellow cake wasn't moist - that's always disappointing - I just made this one http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/07/best-birthday-cake/#comment-340826 and enjoyed it :)

Memória said...

Hahaha! I know which yellow cake you're talking about! I've tried it, too, and it was very dry. I don't know how people got a moist cake out of that recipe, especially since the photo of the cake showed a dry-looking texture. I also agree with you about having to add a simple syrup to a cake. It should be moist on its own! I'm still looking for a good recipe, but I do have two recipes in queue.

Anyway, your cakes still look beautiful!!! I can tell you worked really hard.

Mara... said...

wow!!!! This is too cool, I love how each layer is different, but they all work together. I bet they loved their cake!

Megan said...

Oooh I hate you! Gorgeous photography, incredible food, and such artistic talent!

I'm kidding, of course - but just as an F.Y.I., Ina Garten's chocolate cake is never dry and never sinks, either. It's definitely worth having an extra recipe in your arsenal - because, well, you just never know!

Congrats on such a beautiful cake!

Andrew's Mom said...

Great cake!

Jennifer said...

Wow, your awesome!!!

Rainy Day Farm said...

Wow! Can you come and be my nanny and bake me scrumptious cakes? I sure hope their parents appreciate those awesome cakes! Way to go!

Smitten Sugar said...

Wow! What a beautiful cake, I bet these boys just love you! What a great nanny!

Houses, Couches and Babies said...

What an amazing cake! My kids would absolutely love a cake like that. I wish I had your talent and an ounce of the patience that it must take to make a cake like that! Way to go! Oh, and I love so many of your other recipes...they are making me hungry!

Lori said...

VERY impressive. I love this cake! You did a fantastic job. I love that last picture- so cute. And the joy on your face is just wonderful!

Sophie said...

This is adorable! I can't decide what I love the best, but those fluffy clouds look dreamy :). I bet the kiddos loved it!

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