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 Cakeadapted 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 Frostingadapted 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. :-)