Little Miss Sweeter Thing turned three last week. If you ask her how old she is she’ll still tell you she’s five, but really, she’s three, I promise. We prefer low key birthdays, when you’re big enough to earn your own zip code, you want low key everything. We opted to take her to a movie for the first time with her two besties (both of who are boys and seem completely unbothered while also uninterested in her latest obsession with the color pink and princess dresses). We wanted to see Monsters U, it was of course sold out. We saw Despicable Me 2 instead. It was really cute. It was also completely ridiculous to think that sitting through a two hour movie while very large and very pregnant with an intense case of restless leg syndrome would be enjoyable. I was ready to gnaw my legs off with my own teeth by the time the movie was over. It didn’t help that Anna started talking like a minion at the top of her lungs part way through the movie. Still, it was a super cute movie. So cute, we went out and bought the first one. Also super cute. We had sloppy joes with our friends afterwards, like Manwich out of the can dumped over ground beef and stirred in the crock pot kind of sloppy joes. Real gourmet stuff here. And watermelon. And Cheetos……oh man do I love me some Cheetos. The white cheddar kind….puffs…not the crispy ones…..now I’m salivating. I wonder if there are any left in the pantry. And cake…we of course had cake. Rich, dark chocolate cake filled with chocolate chip cookie dough and covered in ruffles of buttercream icing. None of that is a new recipe, you’ve seen it all before. It was this dark chocolate cake base and this eggless cookie dough recipe. So since I don’t really have a new recipe to share with you, I thought I would share some completely random tips that I employ when making and decorating cakes. Let me also say, I’m really not that great at decorating cakes. For instance, what in my head were sweet ruffled flowers on the side of Anna’s cake ended up looking a bit more like tumors. They were too large, stuck out to far, and were too few in numbers but yet more would have looked even worse. So just keep in mind, less is more when you’re decorating a cake.
Tip #1: make your cake layers at least one day ahead of time so you can wrap them in foil while they are still warm and freeze them. This seals in the steam and makes for super moist, yummy cake layers. It also makes your cakes easier to handle and frost when you are ready for assembly. When assembling a cake, pipe a plain round ribbon of icing around the perimeter of the layer before filling and adding the next layer. If you’re using anything other than buttercream, it will help hold it in. It also helps fill in the gaps between two layers that aren’t perfectly level.
Tip #2: When your layers are stacked, pipe frosting anywhere there is a gap between the layers and then smooth the sides and top with more frosting for a good crumb coat. The crumb coat should be THIN, it simply captures all the crumbs so that when you frost or pipe the final layer of icing, cake doesn’t show through. It results in a lot less swearing while you decorate, trust me.
Tip #3: If you can do a couple simple designs with a pastry bag, you don’t have to worry about smooth icing. I used a petal tip to make vertical ruffles on this cake. Simply hold your pastry bag at a 45 degree angle to your cake with the smaller end of the petal tip facing outward and use firm pressure to pipe straight up the side of the cake. Overlap each ruffle all the way around the cake. I then scraped the top clean and made concentric ruffled circles, starting in the center of the cake and working outwards. I added some colored details and some purple sanding sugar on top. Like I said, it fell a little short of my vision but whatever.
We sang….Anna blew out her candles…which means she spit all over the cake…..yes…she’s wearing a pink crown headband. This is our life right now. We are also constantly finding sparkles everywhere.
Tip #4: Just because you made enough cake to feed the neighborhood, doesn’t mean you have to eat it all before it goes stale. While cupcakes do not lend themselves nicely to freezing, cake does. I’m not sure exactly why the difference but I do know that if packaged the right way, cake will defrost nicely and still be deliciously moist. Here’s how I did Anna’s: I cut individual slices, wrapped each one individually in plastic wrap, placed all in a gallon sized freezer bag, labeled them, and froze them. Not hard. And now I have decadent slices of cake anytime I can’t resist the intense sugar craving that I frequently, maybe daily, have succumb to. When you defrost these slices of cake, unwrap them all the way and they will thaw within a short period of time.
That’s it folks, my random cake tips. Happy baking!
Dark Chocolate Cookie Dough Cake with Buttercream Icing
Make this cake base without the caramel….
Make 1/2 batch of the cookie dough from this cupcake recipe…..
Make this vanilla almond buttercream recipe:
- 3 sticks of butter
- 9 cups powdered sugar
- 3 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1/4- 1/2 cup heaving whipping cream or milk
Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, whipping well between each addition. Add vanilla and almond. Add the whipping cream or milk a couple tablespoons at a time until you have the desired consistency for spreading or piping. Color if desired.