Saturday, August 6, 2011

Happy Baby!

I spent most of my Saturday making this cake for a friend's baby shower tomorrow. I always get asked to bring the cake...

Everyone who tastes my cakes asks for the secret to my success. I just evade the question and say they would be surprised on my secret ingredient. The truth is I tried different homemade white cake recipes for years. I have never found one that can beat my secret ingredient: boxed white cake mix. But instead of water, substitute buttermilk - and add a little vanilla extract too. Always use the egg whites - even if the box says you can use whole eggs, and bake the cake at 325 degrees no matter what the box says.

For the frosting: Cream together in a mixing bowl, 1 cup shortening, 1/2 cup water, 2 tsp clear vanilla flavoring, 2 tsp clear almond flavoring. Slowly add 2 1b of confectioner's sugar (no need to sift). Mix for about 10 min. (This can ruin a lightweight hand mixer, I can tell you from experience - it's better suited for KitchenAid-type stand mixers.)

If you are not going to star the cake, do a crumb coat first. Just spread a thin layer of your frosting on the cake and let it sit for a couple of hours to solidify some. If you are going to star the cake, there's no need for a crumb coat.

Tips on decorating: If you don't want to "draw" on the cake, use props from party stores. If you do want to "draw" something on a cake, search for coloring pages with the character or the theme you want. Coloring pages are often very simple designs and they are generally the size of a 13x9 cake. Cut out your design and trace it with a toothpick. If you mess up, just "erase" your mistake and start over again.
If you are not comfortable piping the decorative edge of the birthday cake, just use "props" as borders: peanut M&Ms, Skittles, Red Hots, Twizzlers, etc. etc.

Finishing touches: Crushed vanilla wafers make good "beach" areas on a cake. Crushed Oreos make good "dirt" areas. You can dye coconut different colors for designs too. 

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