Sunday, May 29, 2011

If I knew you were coming...

There's something more special about a cake than anything else I could possibly bake. In my family, a birthday cake always came from home. Save for a year or two around age five where I must have whined my way into a baskin robbins ice cream cake, each birthday cake was made by my mom. So for the past few years when we celebrated my Grandma T's birthday, I excitedly accepted the task of creating a cake to celebrate another wonderful year. How many people can say they they've made a 97th birthday cake? Probably not many, but now, I have!
Whenever I make big cakes, I made the cake a day or two ahead of time, and then freeze them until the day of. My mom worked at a restaurant in college and learned this tip. It makes the cake super moist, allows half of the work to be done ahead of time, and makes frosting it much easier. As long as it has a few hours after frosting before you plan on eating it, it defrosts perfectly. The cake came out of the pans so easily, which is always nice. I've definitely had times in the past where I was gluing a cake together with frosting. :-/

I made buttercream frosting, which is as simple as it is delicious. Softened butter(1 cup)+powdered sugar(I used between 4 and 5 cups). A little vanilla, and splashes of milk until the consistency is how you like. I ended up making two batches for my 10x10, double layer cake, and around 40 mini cupcakes.

I'm a big fan of starting with a "crumb coat", aka an initial layer of frosting to smooth things out without worrying too much about appearances.

 Then I put all the frosting I plan to use for the rest of the cake on top, and spread it down from top to bottom.

 It's important to a certain extent that the final layer be smooth, but I try to keep in mind that when it goes into someones mouth, they're definitely not thinking about how smooth it is.
 To frost the cupcakes, I used the fanciest of pastry bags, a ziplock baggy (target brand, no less). Fill with frosting, snip one corner, and you've got a really quick way to frost a lot of cupcakes.

To make the cake pretty, I decided on lavender polka dots. I used a tiny bit of purple icing dye (an awesome gift from my best friend Diane) to tint some of my frosting the color I wanted.

I've never done a polka dot cake, but I figured I needed a frosting tip, so I bought two to try out.
 It ended up being a really great tool, so much so that I went all out and did a line of dots along the bottom. For my first time doing anything like this, I was really surprised how easy, quick, and well it went. Now I want to take a cake class! I also really dislike doing writing on a cake, but the tip was so much easier to use than any of the gel tubes they sell for this purpose.

When the cake was finished, I had yet another challenge. It needed to be transported an hour and a half to my Aunt Kathy's house, where the party was. Luckily Will and I hoard boxes from things we buy, so a printer box complete with Styrofoam stabilizers kept it perfectly still the whole drive there. 

After a delicious lunch, we all gathered around to light the cake and sing happy birthday. I realized immediately what makes a birthday cake different than other baked goods.

What else do you bake that you get to put colorful candles into?

What else do you bake that that your family gathers around and cheers?

What else do you bake that requires everyone to stop, watch, and be reminded of just how special the guest of honor is?

What else looks just as good (if not better) all sliced up and enjoyed as it does fresh and new?

Happy birthday to an absolute inspiration. Looking forward to birthday cake number 98 :-)

1 comment:

Kristine. said...

I love it! Looks so yummy and she looks SO happy! <3