Monday, February 18, 2013

Adventures in Cake Decorating #3 - Book Cake

How do you celebrate the start of a new career as an English teacher? With a book cake!

The Complete Works of William Cakespeare, to be exact.

This was a fun cake to make—and fairly simple. Also, the timing of other things in life required that the cake be made in advance, giving me the perfect opportunity to try properly freezing a fully prepared cake (as opposed to leftovers). I looked at several online articles and forums to research cake-freezing, and many of them claimed that the cake tasted even better after having been frozen and thawed. Who knew? I guess lots of people, actually, because that's the way most professional bakeries do it. You think they baked, frosted and assembled your five-tier wedding cake that very morning? Please.

This book cake was just a 13x9 rectangular cake cut in half and stacked to make a smaller rectangular two-layer cake. The rounded edges of the pan even helped it look more like an old book, but I still did a little bit of trimming for a flatter top and even sides, and those scraps plus a little leftover icing became a handful of cake balls. Yum. (This was a much more low-maintenance trimming job than the wedding cake I did in March 2012.)

Once again I used a boxed cake mix (Funfetti. It was a celebration!) and canned icing (chocolate and vanilla) for the simplicity of it all. When the cake had cooled, I cut it in half and placed the first half on a rectangle of cardboard cut just a little larger than the cake itself. I loaded the top of that half with vanilla icing, except for the edge that would be the binding of the book. I spread a thick layer of chocolate in that area, so I didn't have to worry when I started frosting the sides later whether icing of different colors would mix and ruin the look. Then I put the second half on top and adjusted the icing as necessary to make a nice level surface.

For frosting the top and sides of the cake, I put the vanilla frosting on first. It was just around three sides to be the pages of the book. I did it first because the chocolate would be sticking out past the edges a bit (as the book's cover), and chocolate can more easily cover vanilla mistakes than the other way around. I very carefully spread chocolate icing all over the top and along the one remaining long edge of the rectangle, and I let it go past the edges just a touch for a more realistic book cover look. Using my typical method of keeping the spatula clean and moist by continually dipping it in a cup of hot water, I smoothed the chocolate icing as best I could.

Finishing touches
I mixed a little food coloring into some vanilla icing to create the gold text and embellishments. Before piping out the text of the book's title, I practiced it first on a piece of paper and then lined the paper up with the cake to better judge the placement.

For the crease of the binding, I just drew a line in the icing with the tip of the spatula.

To create the look of pages, I trailed a fork through the vanilla icing around those three sides of the cake. I tried my best to keep even rows. It got the point across anyway.

Freezing the cake
First and most important in order not to mess up the beautiful frosting-work: Put the cake (still on its little rectangle of cardboard) in a box small enough to fit in your freezer but large enough so that the sides and top will not touch the cake. Put the boxed cake in the freezer until the icing has frozen solid. Touch it lightly, and if doesn't come off on  your finger, give it a few more taps of the fingertips to make sure it is solid all over. Only then is it safe to proceed with wrapping.

Wrapping the frozen cake is important to protect it from freezer burn. So you freeze the cake solid first, and then take it back out of the freezer and wrap it with plastic wrap. I did two layers of plastic wrap. And then I wrapped the whole thing in foil. And then I put it back in the box and back in the freezer, and there it stayed for one week.

Until party day. The morning of the party, I took it out of the freezer and unwrapped it immediately. The icing was still perfectly intact. Not a smudge! The cake went into the fridge for a few hours to thaw slowly, and then as the party drew nearer, I put it out on the table. A little condensation appeared on the icing, which made me nervous, but it soaked back in or something, and nothing bad happened to the cake. All's well that ends well.

And the cake was delicious. Really, really moist. Must have been the freezing/thawing.

Shared on: Make the Scene Monday, Inspire Me Monday, Marvelous Monday, Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop, Sweet Sharing Monday, Friday Favorites, How To Tuesday


  1. Awesome! That cake looks so good! And congrats to Len - what an inspiration he his to set my mind to something and get it accomplished!

  2. This is so clever! Now I know what to make for my next book club meeting. Thank you. :)

    I'd love if you'd come join my How To Tuesday link party, too.

  3. I love this! Looks great! Thanks for linking up with me for Friday Favorites! Please come back and link up again this week.

  4. You did an amazing job! This is the best of both worlds, too! Cake and books!