Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Birch Cakes and Grad Cakes and Humidity, Oh My!

My oven has been put through a seriously intense workout the past couple of weeks. I'm talking "Insanity" intense. "P90X" intense. Any other oven would have thrown in the towel. OK, I might be exaggerating just a tad, but I at least felt like I had been put through an insane exercise program, mentally anyway. I had two cakes to do in a little over a week and a half, which for a lot of people is no big deal. But I on the other hand, am a spastic ping pong ball of stress and worry.
    SO. A couple of weeks ago, the first cake on my plate (ha ha) was the graduation cake for my brother's high school graduation party. I'd had the design planned for months. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. After practically killing my poor ol' oven making three tiers and some cupcakes, I threw these in the freezer and a couple of days later,  made TONS of fabulous butter cream frosting and a gumpaste motor board. The day before the party, I defrosted the layers, frosted them, AND, put them in the fridge overnight...BUM BUM BUM. Big. Mistake. The next day was disgustingly humid. Can you guess what happened when I took my cakes out of the fridge? They sweat. Almost as much as I did when I realized what was happening. All I can say is, thank the Lord for CakeCentral Forums. Using advise from those folks, I assembled my cake and blasted it with fans, which helped to dry it out some. Phew! Terrifying.
Can you see the shine? I can. But the cake was a hit, so its all good.
One of the guests wondered if the motor board was plastic or edible. So he broke off one corner and ate it. I guess that's one way to do it. 

The last cake of the week was for my dad. He loves birch trees, and in all of my online, time-wasting, searches, I had seen tons of different takes on birch bark cakes. So I decided to make my own version. I did a two tier, six layer cake with crusting buttercream, chocolate ganache "bark" lines, and white melting chocolate "peeling bark." 

White Chocolate "peeling bark" painted with ganache

I have to say, I am pretty darn happy with it. The melting chocolate is super easy to work with, so don't be scared of it. Give it a whirl and I promise you will be pleasantly surprised!

Oh! and the butter cream! This is the best stuff I have ever made. It is fluffy, crusts beautifully, and is not too sweet. If you dig making your own frosting, TRY THIS ONE!

Crusting Chocolate Fudge Butter Cream

Yes, this is for chocolate frosting (the exact recipe I used for the grad. cake) but just take out the cocoa and you get the vanilla version.


1 cup salted sweet cream butter, softened (2 sticks)

1 cup Crisco All Vegetable Shortening

3 t. Pure Vanilla extract

2 lbs. (8 cups) sifted powdered sugar, divided

1 cup sifted Hershey’s Cocoa

1 T. Meringue Powder

8-9 T. heavy whipping cream, divided


Cream butter and shortening, add vanilla, cream until smooth. Sift together powdered sugar and Hershey Cocoa. Add Meringue Powder. Add 1/3 of the powdered sugar mixture, beating well on medium speed until blended (keep bowl covered with damp towel while beating to keep powdered sugar in bowl). Add 1/3 of the heavy whipping cream, mixing until blended. Add 1/3 more of the powdered sugar mixture, beating well on medium speed until blended. Add 1/3 more of the heavy whipping cream, mixing until blended. Add remaining powdered sugar mixture and remaining heavy whipping cream. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Let crust for about 15 minutes before using the Viva paper towel method. 

By the way, this recipe is courtesy of gourmetcakes on CakeCentral. 

BAM! Eat the frosting from the bowl. No biggie.  

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