Monday, October 11, 2010

Character Cakes. Make em'. Love em'. Eat em'.


Do you remember being a kid?  Do you remember what your absolute favorite day of the year was?  I would guess that if you're like most of the populous, that day would have been your birthday.  It's funny how things change when you get older.  My birthday was Friday and I definitely wasn't counting down the days.  I didn't wake up with those butterflies of excitement in my stomach.  I woke up with an achy neck and baggy eyes.
My son's birthday is Tuesday.  We had a family party for him yesterday.  One of the things I love to do for my kids birthdays is to make them a cake of their choice.   They start thinking about what kind of a cake they want weeks in advance.  These cakes are by no means perfect.  I do the best I can do.  Don't we all? (keep that in mind when you see the pics of my cakes ;)) 
This year, my son chose Yoda.  I was going to make just Yoda's head.  I thought it would be easy.  Then I thought I could draw him out and fill in his clothing with the right colors, etc.  The day before cake making would commence, he changed his mind.  He now wanted a Storm Trooper.  I was so relieved.  Storm Troopers are black and white.  That meant I didn't have to do any colored frosting.  I went to the store and picked up a tube of black cookie decorator frosting.  I don't know that they're around year round or just this time of year since it's halloween season.
I printed out a picture of a storm troopers face.  I then taped a piece of wax paper to it.  I traced the storm trooper through the wax paper with the black frosting.

I then printed out "happy birthday Ethan" with a free star wars font that I found online.  I traced that.  It was painstaking.  I used a toothpick to spread the frosting to the edges.  I then stuck them in the freezer.

 Meanwhile, I baked two 9x13 chocolate cakes (recipe at the end of the blog).

After they cooled, I flipped them over onto a tray (I bought the one pictured at IKEA for a buck or two).
One of the cakes was a little less done than the other so it kind of flew out onto the tray.  It was so moist, I couldn't really move it over, so the cake hung over the edge ever so slightly.

I made this frosting for the cake (recipe at the end).  Delish.  Frosted the cakes then put it in the fridge.  Throughout the day, I checked on my storm trooper and letters to see if they were frozen.  I would touch them with my finger and they weren't freezing.  Hmph.  No good.  They were in the fridge for 9 hours and never froze.  GREAT.  All of that work for????
Then I had an idea.  I flipped the storm trooper onto the cake and pressed lightly.  I then peeled it off.  It left a black imprint on the cake and I was able to trace that with the frosting again.

Here you can see some of the black imprint left behind...
The letters?  Well, they were a lost cause.  If I were to do it again I would have printed the letters out backwards and traced, then flipped and traced onto the cake.  Or not.   The new lettering was kind of blobby, but really, a six year old boy doesn't care about that.

Here are some tips for you if you were to do something similar:
1.  Print out a pick from an online coloring book.  Simply type the character name into google images with "coloring" after it, and you'll get a bunch of great options.
2.  If you're making two cakes, make them separately in two batches.  I doubled the recipe and then guessed when pouring them into the pans.  It made one just a tad bigger than the other.
3.  Lettering... probably easier just doing it free hand!
4.  If you use buttercream frosting to trace your pic, it will freeze.  Then you could peel it off and place it on top of your cake.



Chocolate cake makes a nice goatee.


 Here are some cakes of birthdays past.  Last year, Ethan chose Spider Man.  I printed a pic of Spideys face and free handed it.

 Two years in a row, Ella has chosen the princess castle cake.  Here is a link to the super easy tutorial.  They even have a video!  Pink Castle Cake Tutorial

This year, I used  the same tutorial, but my sister in law gave me the plastic pieces from her daughters bday cake.  I should say, I rescued them from her trash ;)

If you have any cake making/decorating tips, I'd love to read them.  Please leave us a comment!
RECIPES:

One Bowl Chocolate Cake III

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two nine inch round pans.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
If you use a 9x13 pan, just cook it a little longer (I cook it for 40-45 mins). Oh, one more tip… it tastes best fresh out of the fridge.


Buttercream Decorator Frosting
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup shortening
3 pounds confectioners sugar
1 tb vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c milk

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and shortening. Beat in sugar, vanilla, salt and enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. 
You can then divy up to add coloring, or frost your cake.
This is enough frosting to generously frost two 9x13's with a cup or so to spare.  

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