Monday, April 21, 2014

Festive Easter Cake

This is really a review of sorts of three different recipes. First, I saw this pinata cake somewhere and thought it was kind of a cool idea. But I didn't like the idea of loose candy spilling out of the cakes when they were cut into. When you watch the guy eat the cake, you can tell it looks pretty challenging. My idea was to create a filled cake and incorporate some Easter eggs into the filling. Fortunately, I have had the Betty Crocker Bake n' Fill set for years. It's really neat, and I love having the opportunity to use it. (I actually like the rounded pan as a solid cake; I used it to make an unfilled Snitch cake once, and the fondant was perfect on top of it!)

So... to start, I knew I needed a heavy cake; a pound cake. I went with Paula Deen's Mama's Pound Cake recipe.

Mixing the butter and shortening.

Added the sugar.

After the milk and flour were incorporated.
I did use plain soy milk for this cake, for no other reason than I had some left over and needed the space in my refrigerator. It worked out beautifully.

Since I was going for festive, I added pastel food coloring to the batter.

I tried to shake the pans to even out the batter, but his stuff is thick! So I got to use my favorite kitchen utensil on earth: the offset spatula.

 Unfortunately, all of that mixing and color lead to this, the first of three sinks full of dishes I sullied making the cake.
*blink* *blink* Dang it; they're still dirty. *blink* Why isn't this working?
In case you haven't seen the Bake n' Fill set, it's just a cake pan with a "lid" you screw on to make sure when the cake rises, it leaves an indention for filling.

See the "fill to" line? It's practically fool-proof!

It worked! I think my oven is crooked, though... but only part of it.
I baked the cakes on the same rack, but only the bigger cake was uneven. Weird. Fortunately, I knew I could fix it with filling!

Originally, I had planned to use a whipped cream filling, but it's gotten warmer in the past week or so, and our refrigerator, you might remember, is full to the point of our having to strategically brace ourselves whenever we open the door. So, after following several internet rabbit holes from "non-refrigerated cake filling," I came across something called "Mousseline buttercream." Oh. My. Goodness.

Egg whites, sugar, and vinegar (because I didn't have cream of tartar; vinegar is an acceptable substitute).

Now for the tricky part: The recipe says to transfer the sugar/water syrup to a glass bowl to stop the cooking, and they aren't kidding. I thought I could just drizzle the syrup quickly from the saucepan because it has a spout, but in the time I put it on the counter and got the mixer ready to go again, the syrup had solidified into a sugar tablet the size of the bottom of the pan, and reheating it did not help.

The second time, I poured it into a jar because I don't have glass bowls. It was MOLTEN. I had to use a silicone glove to hold the syrup whilst pouring it.

It says to avoid the beaters when you're pouring, because if you get the syrup on the mixer, it will crystallize and might make the icing chunky, too. Even doing it "right," I wasn't quite fast enough to get ALL of the sugar mixture before it became hard candy.

It worked, though!
Then, we add the ONE POUND of butter, one tablespoon at a time.

You have to wait until the syrup and egg mixture is completely cool, because if the butter melts, your icing will be a runny, gloppy mess. You can't salvage it. I didn't mind losing 1/4 cup of water and 3/4 cup sugar to my mistake, but 5 egg whites and a pound of butter would have been an expensive do-over.

Just so you know, when you get about halfway done with the third stick of butter, the ratio of butter to other stuff shifts, and the butter might start clumping together. Don't freak out. After you add all of the butter, you can just turn up the mixer and it will smooth it all out.

One of the best things about this "frosting" is that it's not very sweet at all. It's mostly buttery. So I felt like it was fine to add...

I filled the hole in the cake, like spackling a hole in the drywall. It filled it up perfectly, and I'd saved some to put on the rim of the cake to attach it to the solid base. I was able to even out the cake this way, instead of cutting the cake down.

The final, un-iced result:

Finally, I wanted a chocolate icing. Another rabbit trail and I found this recipe for chocolate buttercream that looked perfect. 

I did make a couple of changes: I used half shortening and half butter (again with shelf-stability). I used cinnamon because we didn't have any instant coffee. And I used a minimum of heavy cream. If you use more, you can make the icing glossy, but I wanted a "matte" finish because I didn't want to wake up to the cake having slipped, or the filling spilled out, or the eggs having fallen off of the cake.

Nice hat.

The finished product, or "ugliest cake ever," according to a Facebook friend.
I thought it was pretty! Plus, it was a thick matte frosting out of necessity. I loved it! :) Besides, when it's cut in to:

*angels singing(

The left-overs went into the freezer, because one piece of this every month or so is MORE than enough. My daughter, whose sweet tooth is only slightly less potent than mine (and is in second place behind her meat tooth) couldn't even polish off one tiny piece.

We didn't do an official egg hunt (I think that Daphne wasn't well, plus, you know, she's nearly a teenager), but I did hide eggs... in my cake! I will definitely use the individual components of this cake again individually. Together, it's a LOT going on! Maybe too much, but it made me happy. :) 

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