You have transformed my life into a fairytale,
My world has changed, and will never be the same.
Because my child, you are an angel from heaven to me,
You, my darling, are my most unforgettable dream.
Happy Birthday, Dear Mikaela!
I had been planning my daughter's birthday cake for a long time and just a week ago I shunned away from my original plan of making a cartoon character- themed birthday cake. The initial idea was to go for a “Super Why” Cake as she is an ardent fan of the cartoon series, but while finalizing my shopping list, I realized that the cake design called for primarily 'boyish' colors like green, blue and white. Finally, I found this design that seemed like a great challenge as well as won my daughter's approval. I was really excited to try it out because it looked so beautiful and just apt for my 3 year old munchkin.
As the birthday weekend arrived, on Friday evening I was all set to wrap up the basic baking tasks. Loud music and high spirits set the tone as I got to work and of course my little helper was there trying to keep me as busy as possible. By the time my husband reached home from work, the cakes were baked and on the cooling rack. We then decided to go shopping for Mikaela's birthday gift - a bicycle. After almost an hour or more of looking at multiple bikes and trying to get Mikaela to understand she actually needed to push her feet forward on the pedals to get the bicycle moving, we had to give up. My daughter was just so lost in all the colorful accessories, toys, streamers and stickers on and around the bikes that pedalling seemed like the last thing she wanted to focus on. The shopping experience zapped away much more time and energy than we had expected so we had to stop by the Five Guys restaurant on the way home. There's no better panacea for a tired mind and body than a nice juicy burger and some fresh cut fries :-)
The next morning at around 10 am I started working on the cream cheese filling, the butter cream icing and the fondant. It was fun to see my daughter's reaction to the various flowers and decorations for the cake. She was constantly curious as to why I was making a play-dough cake because she mistook fondant for play dough :)
At about 3 pm I realized that the cake would take way longer than I had anticipated and there was still a ton of tasks left to complete. Continuously working since morning, with just a couple of short breaks for lunch and dinner, it was already past 1 AM and I was completely exhausted. Making the declaration to my husband that I would never again engage in such complicated fondant cakes especially when I have a full time job, I retired to my bed for the much-needed nap. The next day, when I saw my daughter's reaction to the finished cake I was so overwhelmed with joy and full of life again. The birthday party was really fun and Mikaela had a great time with her friends. All that work was finally worth it!!
When you make elaborate cakes it’s always a good practice to have a design and plan in place before you start working on the cake.
This is the draft of my cake design
Cake Planning involves the following
- Choose Cake flavor – Red velvet
- Finalize Cake Filling – Cream cheese filling
- Determine the kind of frosting – Butter cream frosting
- Plan the Decorations (color, placement, size)
- The final surface on which you will mount the whole cake – I make my own cake boards
- How will you store the cake?
Red Velvet Cake
Recipe adapted from here
**I doubled the recipe below to make three 8 inch round cakes and 1 semi-spherical cake
2 C - All purpose flour
1 Tsp - Baking soda
1 Tsp - Baking powder
1 Tsp - Salt
2 Tbsp - Unsweetened cocoa powder
2 C - Sugar
1 C - Vegetable oil
2 - Eggs
1 C - Buttermilk
2 Tsp -Vanilla
1 - 2 oz. Red food coloring
1 Tsp - White distilled vinegar
1/2 C - Plain hot coffee (Without milk or sugar. Don’t skip this ingredient)
- Grease the cake tins with vegetable shortening and line it with parchment paper.
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- Sift the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt together and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix the sugar and oil.
- Add the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, red food color, coffee and white vinegar
- Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients a little at time, mixing after each addition, just until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans
- Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.
- Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely.
Cream Cheese filling
Makes 3 cups
8 Ounce - Cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) - Butter room temperature
1 1/2 C - Confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 Tsp - Pure vanilla extract
- Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine.
- If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.
Butter cream icing
Makes: 2.5 cups
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!)
2.5 - 3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Up to 3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
- Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer on medium speed until soft and fluffy.
- Add 2.5 cups of powdered sugar and run the mixer on lowest speed; otherwise your kitchen will have powdered sugar everywhere
- Mix until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter.
- Mix in the vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes on medium speed.
- If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.
Ingredients for Decoration
1 - Rolled Fondant
1 - Gum paste
1 Bottle - Food color (Red, Green, Ivory, Brown, Blue) I use the color gel
**Read more about fondant here
Assembly of the cake
- Make a cake board with a diameter slightly less than 8 inches. I usually cut out a piece of carton cardboard and cover it with aluminum foil. The cake board should only be slightly lesser in diameter than the actual cake because you don’t want the board to be too conspicuous.
- Place the 8 inch cake on the board.
- Apply cream cheese filling on the top
- Place the second cake and apply the filling on top followed by 3rd cake and the 4th cake.
- Take the butter cream frosting and apply on the entire outer surface of the cake.
- Insert 3 wooden skewers vertically in the middle through all the layers of the cake.This is to support the cake.
- Cut a rectangular piece of fondant and cover the stalk of the mushroom.
- Cut a circular piece of fondant and lay it over the cake, which will be the cap of the mushroom.
- Move the cake along with the cake board onto the final surface, such as the cake board or tray on which it will be displayed. I made my own cake board and covered it with green fondant.
- Stick the decoration on the fondant using a paintbrush dipped in water. Water acts like glue.
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