Sunday, December 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, Daddy.

So this past week was my father's birthday. Naturally, my mom and I were going to take the opportunity to make a cool cake for him. What are a few of my dad's favorite things? Mets, Jets, and BBQ- in that order. We decided since it's football season to make him a football shaped cake. To make it easier, we actually purchased a football shaped pan.

It's not necessary since you can cut and shape your cakes however you want them, but it did make life so much easier. The pan is deceptively large. We used a full box of cake mix in this pan and it only filled it about halfway. Yeah, I know I said "cake mix". Between recuperating from Thanksgiving and my birthday and trying to stay on top of Christmas shopping, we decided to cut a few corners. I have no problem with boxed cake mix once in awhile. It's delicious and easy to use. But, we did make homemade buttercream icing. It's my favorite and it's so simple and delicious that it's worth the extra 10 minutes you'll spend in the kitchen making it. We always use Wilton's buttercream icing recipe and thin or thicken it as needed for piping and spreading. We made this one particularly thin since we decided to just cover the cake in a thick layer of buttercream rather than cut it in half and make it two layers.

Buttercream Icing (Thin)

- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening

-1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (I use salted, it brings out the flavor nicely)

- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract*

- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

- 3-4 tablespoons milk

*Note: If you don't use clear vanilla extract your buttercream will have an off-white tint. Since we're usually layering it under fondant, I don't mind. So that's why our buttercream isn't pure white.

1. Cream butter and shortening in large bowl with electric mixer. Add vanilla.

Make sure you sift your powdered sugar otherwise your icing won't be smooth.

2. Add sugar one cup at a time, beating on medium speed. The mixture will be dry after all sugar is incorporated, this is normal.

3. Add milk and whip until light and fluffy. If needed, more milk can be added until you reach the desired consistency. If icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar until you get the consistency you want.

Icing can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Now this cake is a good size for someone who wants to try fondant but is nervous about tackling it for larger cakes. This guy is small, intended for our family of 6, so it was easy to roll out and lay the fondant. Here, we'll show you how.

We decided to use Wilton's chocolate fondant since it already has that rich brown color and would save us a good 10 minutes of kneading coloring gel into our own marshmallow fondant which is more than a little difficult to color.

We had plenty left over using this 1.5 lb. box.

When rolling out fondant, I suggest getting a fondant mat. It just makes life easier. You can roll the fondant out on your counter top, parchment paper, or wax paper. But really, I find the mat the easiest. Make sure to generously dust your rolling surface, whatever it may be, and your rolling pin with powdered sugar. It's even better if you can use sifted as powdered sugar can make little bumps and imperfections in your fondant when rolling it out. Here's my mom rolling out the fondant. I have to say, this chocolate fondant rolls out very nicely.

While you're rolling the fondant, lift the fondant off the mat and add more powdered sugar. This ensures the fondant won't stick to the mat. You can also turn the fondant so you can smooth out bumps or imperfections. The thinner the fondant the better, since it's usually a bit much for most people on top of an already sweet cake. We try to roll it to 1/4" thickness or less.

Once your fondant is rolled thin enough, you can lift it and transfer it to your cake. This is always the scariest part for me- is it going to rip? Is it going to flop on the cake lopsided? But 9 times out of 10, it works out just fine. And that other last time? Well, we work through it.

Once your fondant is on the cake, press in along the edges to make sure it lays flat and snug. Then remove excess fondant with a sharp knife.

Doesn't it look like an almond? Lol!

From here I bagged up some of the icing and snipped the tip. I didn't even bother using a decorating tip since I hate cleaning those things out.

You might notice my mom is in the background rolling out white fondant for the white stripes on the football. This is leftover marshmallow fondant we had stored.

I used this to pipe the stitching onto the cake.

While my mom was cutting the white fondant stripes and attaching them to the cake using leftover buttercream icing, I dyed some icing green for grass using gel food coloring. Never use those food coloring drops from the supermarket- they thin out your icing and it takes a lot of them to get a rich color. This is especially true for dying fondant, gum paste, royal icing, or mostly anything you'd use on your cake.

From here, I prepared a decorating bag using Wilton's #233 decorating tip and my mom piped grass around the base of the cake. For piped grass, I recommend thickening your icing with powdered sugar. Our icing was a little thin for the grass but we made do and it came out looking great.

And ta-da! A perfect little football cake for one of my favorite football fanatics!

Happy birthday, Dad! We love you!

No comments:

Post a Comment