Tag Archives: birthday cake

New (Old) Cake Caddy

img_7817$1.99 at the thrift shop. Never needed one before, but now I think “How Brilliant!” And it is brilliant, all shiny and bright. That took some doing on my part. But thrift shop shoppers can’t be choosers.

I can see myself carrying cakes all over town in this beauty. I’ll be the woman who brings her signature beautiful, delicious cakes to everyone’s houses…. OK, waking up now.

(p.s. sometimes I feel very old fashioned baking cakes and putting them in my cake carrier ….. but I think old fashioned girls iron tablecloths)


The Twilight Cake

cakeThe Tween Tsunami known as a slumber party swept through the house, leaving puddles of eye shadow, a defaced wall of posters of the no-longer-crushworthy Jonas Brothers, more unfamiliar socks than party guests, and one sleep-deprived but very happy birthday girl. Oh, and an exhausted mom who has already agreed to do it again soon. (Momnesia, we call this state.)

The highlight for me was showing my girl the promised Twilight Cake. She was speechless — I suspect she doubted my ability to pull this off, and honestly, that made two of us. (Some of you may recall that my two practice runs at the Twilight Birthday Cake ended in the Tectonic Plate Cake disaster and the Collapsing Chocolate Cake disaster. But I had the pressure of an Impending Slumber Party behind me, not to mention the lesson learned over and over – read the directions! While it was not as perfecto as some of the truly impressive Twilight Cakes out there, I think for my first actual cake and my first cake with any sort of decoration on it… Well, I impressed myself and, more importantly, the Twilight-obsessed party guests.

The Twilight Cake Details:

The cake was a yummy 9-inch chocolate layer cake, using a recipe from Baking Illustrated. I followed the directions. I even remembered the eggs.

We made a black fondant to cover it. I’d read that some of the fondant you buy ready-made doesn’t taste good and is meant to be peeled off like orange skin or cheese wax. Then I found a really helpful site with instructions on making marshmallow fondant. Fortunately we did this a couple of weeks ahead of time (Harriet did the sticky kneading) because we made black fondant and red fondant.  (Warning: this stuff is really sticky. It helps to have a child on hand to do the kneading.) While the black fondant was (to me) edible and (to the girl) delicious, the red fondant tasted awful. Like run-to-the-sink-and-spit awful. Red food coloring, at least in the shade I selected for its bloodiness, tastes horrible. I later discovered that there is a red food coloring that has no taste, but we never got around to making another round of red fondant. The black fondant was perfect, though, and stayed in the fridge for two weeks.

For the decor, I used symbols from three of the four Twilight book jackets. (I have no idea if these things appear in the books. As I’ve previously confessed, as the not-always-so-involved-in-my-kid’s-interests-when-they-look-not-only-um-uninteresting-but-very-time-consuming mother that I am, I have not yet read any of these Vampire books, even though the girl devoured them.) So there’s an apple, pink and white flowers (those are candles and they are so freaking cute but nearly impossible tophoto light) and a broken red ribbon. The ribbon went on first with store-bought red decorating icing. I did that first and thought for someone who can’t draw worth a lick that I’d done a damn good rendition of the torn ribbon from the book jacket.

By the time all the symbols got on board, there was no room for any writing. Just as well. I know from experience that I stink at writing on cake. (I have tried in the past with store-bought sheet cakes, and recall being offended when even pre-schoolers mocked my efforts.) I had downloaded a Twilight Font  (I would give you the link, but I can’t reach the twilighters.org site today) and thought I’d try and make a stencil or something. But time ran out. (Have I mentioned the actual decorating occurred as the girls were loading up at our Taco Bar in the next room?) Besides, there really wasn’t a spare inch. And it didn’t matter – the cake was a success.

I did make a few mistakes that fortunately had no huge ramifications. You are supposed to use buttercream under the fondant. I knew that, I made buttercream and had it sitting there. But I forgot to put it on the cake top. I did buttercream the sides. Also, the fondant should go on smooth as glass (I think), and mine had lots of dings from me trying to park the top while I buttercreamed the sides. That didn’t matter a whit since the cake’s entire surface was covered by Twilight symbolism by the time it hit the dining room table.

Also, Saturday was warm and super sunny and the cake, wearing just its fondant, sat in my new thrift-shop cake holder on the kitchen table, safe from inquiring feline and canine noses but not from the sun’s glare. I lifted the lid to admire my black cake and discovered that the fondant was starting to melt, I guess, because while it still nicely covered the cake, there was a quarter-inch ring of black around the cake’s base. You’re not supposed to refrigerate a fondant-covered cake, so I put it, under the lid, in my chilly mudroom. All was well and no one but me noticed the cake had a little hat brim.

Next time (ha!) I would make chocolate buttercream or at least color the buttercream so I could put it between the layers. I gave myself an extra step by making chocolate frosting to cushion the layers. No reason the buttercream couldn’t do double-duty.

Oh – and finally — the cake was delicious. Rich, fudgy and really tasty. I’m not a marshmallow fan, so the frosting/fondant wasn’t my favorite, but the party guests ate it right along with the cake. Half the cake was left after dinner, and my plan was to take some nice photos of the cake interior on Sunday. Sunday morning I discovered an empty cake plate on the counter and several forks in the sink. No better review than that, I guess!

Trying to Bake a Twilight Cake

I Was Going For This

I Was Going For This

The bar has been set pretty high for the Twilight Birthday Cake. I may have mentioned that I have never baked a cake, so I decided to practice before the big slumber party. It’s not like we will mind eating the residue!

I’ve never read Twilight or any of its three sequels, but the birthday girl, 12, is obsessed. But according to one of the covers (I know, never judge a book by its…) a chess piece or the game of chess comes into play. Maybe? Anyway, I saw a “Checkerboard Cake Pan Set” and thought “Perfect!” Chessboard, Checkerboard, whatever. So last night I practiced with the Checkerboard Cake Pan Set.

Ha ha ha ha! Talk about one’s baking reach exceeding one’s grasp. Checkerboard cake? Try tectonic plate cake by the time I was through!

I got this!

I got this!

The good news, and there is good news: I used a recipe from my trusty friend Baking Illustrated, which has never failed me. You would never guess this is my first cake, it is that delicious. Funny looking, maybe, but delicious. (If you’re wondering, the recipe was for Yellow Cake. Following the lead of the Checkerboard Cake box, I stirred some melted semi-sweet chocolate into half the batter so I could have the “Checkerboard” effect.) I only went with two layers, instead of three. Harriet is leaving for the weekend, and I figured we’d have a hard enough time polishing off a two-layer cake. If I’d just left well enough alone and baked a two-layer yellow cake, it would have been perfect (better, actually), and that’s probably what I will do when I move on to step two of practicing the Twilight Cake.

Next Step: Decorating a Twilight Cake. I have some black and red sugar (key to the vampire theme). I have some apples (also gleaned from a book cover). Do the apples have something to do with virgins and the heroine and the vampire? Do I want to know?

Stay tuned for more Twilight Cake fun.

By the way, the fact that I’m including these photos is in no way meant to cast aspersions on the Checkerboard Cake set. Maybe my batter was too thin? It all looked good going in the oven. And I did only fill the pans half-way as instructed. But as you can see, things went awry.

Twilight Birthday Cake

Plans are in high gear for a 12th birthday slumber party, and I’ve been thinking about Birthday Cake. I think a beautiful chocolate cake will/would do, but for some reason I Googled “Twilight Birthday Cake” since the girl and her friends are obsessed with Bella, Edward and all things Twilight.

Boy, there are some impressive Twilight cakes out there! As you can see, many look like a book (How do they get that title font in icing? I can barely print in icing!) while others go with the chessboard theme,  with an apple, chess pieces or red ribbon on them. (Bad mother confession: I have yet to read any of these books. The girl raced through all four.)

So I wonder, does fondant taste any good? Some of these seem to use a lot of it. I don’t think I’ll tackle an entire fondant cake for my first cake. But I might pull off the ribbon.

I may try a mini practice cake… Have I mentioned I’ve never baked a cake? (Other than the Apple Cake, which was wonderful but wasn’t a birthday cake.)

Ever confident in my cake-baking ability, Harriet suggested we just get the cake at the supermarket. It may come to that!

Volcano Cakes and Exploding Cakes

If you ever need to write 300 more words before you get to bed and should sit in your chair and focus on the task at hand …. do NOT Google Volcano Cake.

There are many Volcano Cake variations out there – but most involve dry ice, marshmallow Fluff and lots of food coloring and dinosaur toys. Some use purchased cakes, other use cake mixes, while still others are made from scratch. All take hours to assemble.

If you really need to procrastinate, enter “Volcano Cake” in the search box at youTube. I never heard of this cake before yesterday, but it’s the centerpiece of many birthday parties and even one wedding. I think if I ever suggested making this for Harriet’s next birthday, she’d accuse me of trying to sabotage her middle school social life while giving me that “you are clueless” look that she has perfected. I may offer to make a volcano cake just to strike panic in her little tween heart. ♥

Most Volcano Cake birthday boys are 4 or so. But here’s a video showing an exploding cake for a new 30-year-old. (Remember when you thought 30 was old? Ha!)  Just a note: there’s an F-word in the frosting. Something about this one cracked me up – the bomb shape  and the F-bomb in message, I guess. Plus, the baker did  great job with the cake, and the birthday boy was in on the joke.

Too many videos out there feature cakes exploding all over unsuspecting birthday boys. My advice to anyone whose friends or loved ones are practical jokers lacking common sense – if the women in the group start pulling their children away from the cake during the candle-lighting, hit the ground, or at least cover your eyes.