Sunday, April 27, 2014

Rainbow Cake for the Rainbow Baby

When my oldest turned 4 last month, his Thomas cake was a huge hit and he was ready to help me pick the theme for his little brother's first birthday cake. When I asked him what I should make, the answer came immediately. "Mommy, you need to make him a rainbow cake!" It was exciting and intimidating all at the same time. I've been wanting to take on a rainbow cake since I saw this one on the Whisk Kid blog, but I never had the right opportunity, nor was I brave enough.

I knew it was going to be a daunting task to decorate, so I used box mixes. I didn't want to have to hang my head in shame, so I looked up ways to make box mixes taste "homemade". Following instructions I Googled, I added an extra egg, replaced water with milk and oil with melted butter. There were lots of weird lumps and huge air bubbles and an eggy smell.  The layers also came out really uneven due to shrinkage in the pan and that's never happened to me before. It tasted fine, but I'm pretty sure it would have been just as good (if not better) straight out of the box. Don't get it twisted, I did not say better than scratch :) Next time I'll know better and leave well enough alone. This is what I ended up with prior to leveling off the layers. I made a smash cake at the same time.

Overall, this cake was fun, fun, fun. Who doesn't love to play with all those beautiful colors?

I used this video from the Woodland Bakery to decorate. I messed up on the very first line, so I turned the cake around and put a rainbow on the other side. I messed that up too, so each cake was a double rainbow. This is what I got. 

So I can't pipe to save my life, but check out the inside! I was super proud of that. Horizontally, the layers were pretty even and the colors so vibrant. My only issue was the shrinkage I discussed before so you can see extra blue frosting on the right and left sides. Rather than take a knife to it to even it up, I went with the even it with frosting option. Like someone told me, "Less cake or more frosting. This doesn't seem like a hard choice". 

Fun facts - since I used butter in the box mixes and all the frosting, I decided to add up the butter and sugar content. Three batches of buttercream meant 6 sticks of butter and 6 pound (or 3 bags) of powdered sugar. I also made 3 boxes of cake and there were about 4 sticks of butter in them. So 10 sticks of butter and 6 pounds of sugar in the two cakes I made. Because you should always be thinking of calorie content while making cake :)

Happy first birthday to my littlest Rainbow baby!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thomas the Train Birthday Cake

So far I've been failing miserably at the whole keeping up with New Year's resolution thing. I usually never make resolutions, but I've been getting overwhelmed with other things (like the rest of the population, I suppose) and neglecting this blog. More importantly, I've been neglecting the things that calm and relax me when things get crazy. So I put it out there to the world (well, Facebook) that for the first time in over a decade, I was making a resolution. I was going to make more cake in 2014. Here we are at the end of March and I'm finally getting to make good on that promise to myself. A little slow to start, but hopefully, it's the beginning of more cake making this year. Luckily, my son's 4th birthday today gave me the push I needed :)

Last year, I went big out of guilt. Check out the post here if you like. It was to be his last birthday as an only child so I wanted to make it the best ever. He was excited, but not fully aware that the fuss over him was about his birthday. But this year was different. He's been asking since January, "Mommy, is it my birthday yet?". The anticipation has been killing him and he had a request. He wanted a Thomas cake. We perused Pinterest as usual and found tons of inspiration. No shortage at all of Thomas the Train cake ideas. I took aspects of cakes I liked and mocked up sad sketches of cakes.

We do have paper on hand, so I have no idea why this is on a paper towel. Anyway, I couldn't decide, so I posted the picture to Facebook - where I apparently have all decisions made for me and got zero votes for cake 1. I really liked the second one, but people seemed to gravitate mostly to cake 3, which I liked, but it was also the most involved. Naturally, I took it as some sort of challenge. What I ended up doing is a sort of blend of the two. Always changing my mind :) I made a Thomas face for the top tier, and made the bottom tier of number 3, switching out the tree for a Railroad Crossing sign. I liked the result and more importantly, my kiddo liked it, so it's a win. 

For the cake, I used this recipe from I am baker. It was for two 8 inch cake pans so I doubled it and had enough for 3 eight inch cake pans and 2 six inch cake pans. There might have been enough to divide it into 3 six inch pans but I only had 2 pans. I'll work on that. 
Generally, I completely stress over cakes and crying ensues at some point when things aren't working like I want them to and I think this one was relatively stress free given my expectations. Part of that was deciding on partial instead of full fondant. It could have looked a lot smoother, but I was craving a fluffy buttercream, so I used the recipe found here at add a pinch.
Because I'm super proud of how it turned out, I'm adding a close-up shot of the Thomas face. I cut two gray circles and rolled up three tiny little fondant balls to place between them to make his nose and cheeks realistic and I think it had a nice effect. The black to color his pupils and surround his nose and mouth was just a food safe marker. 

Another (blurry) close-up for good measure!

Overall, it looked great, tasted good and the icing on the cake was that dude was happy. I should admit that he was happy after it was iced in blue only. I'm a lucky mom. I get to do it all over again in one month from today when my second baby turns 1 :)