Thursday, February 8, 2018

Adventures in Cake Decorating #5 - TV and Movie Cakes, Part 1

Has it really been a year and a half since I last posted a cake adventure? So many nibling birthdays since then!

Forget chronological order; this one will be a collage of the TV- and movie-themed cakes my niece and nephews have requested thus far.

Batman-Spiderman Cake
Actually, the first was probably not even for a nibling's birthday, but for a friend's son. We threw this together only a couple of hours before the actual birthday party, and boy, did that red icing look pink! But I used all—all!—of my red food coloring. And, the black icing looked purply-gray. Oh, we were worried.

Icing color does darken over time, but with only two hours... These colors weren't promising. However, in the light of day, without any true reds nearby to compare it to, and with people's brains sort of auto-correcting for them as they know inherently that Spiderman is red and black, not dark pink and grease-gray, it turned out just fine!

Lessons: I will never again use red as the main color—it's much easier to get a nice red in small batches. For black icing, start with a chocolate base.

WorldWorld Cake
The cookies were my favorite part of this next one, but the cake was fun, too. (Notice the sparing use of red here.) The icing got a little melty in the warm kitchen,\ and had to be repaired and re-chilled, or else the letters of "CAKE" might have had more definition, but whatever. It's cute.

"WordWorld" is a kids' show about phonetics, if you didn't know. The characters are animals whose bodies are shaped out of actual words.

We cut out alphabet sugar cookies to spell the words "SHEEP," "DUCK," "DOG," and "FROG" and lay the letters with edges touching on the cookie sheet, curving or stretching the word a bit to shape into an animal. Pieces of dough scraps formed the animals' extremities, like feet, ears, eyeballs and wings.

Bake, cool, paint with icing. Fun!

I should have skipped the ants marching up the side of the cake. I wrote "ant" as their bodies and added legs and antennae, but they just turned out sloppy, and now it just looks like the red letters were bleeding (look at the R on the far right side of the cake).

Ninja Turtle Cake

This was a layered round cake with upside-down cupcakes to form the turtles' heads. I mean, just look at a Ninja Turtle's head. It's shaped like an upside-down cupcake!

Trim the dome off the top of each cupcake so it has a flat surface when it's upside-down. After they're iced and topped off with a manhole cover, the muffin-tin shape is no longer obvious. The sewer lid was a cardboard circle, covered in foil and iced. Sorry, not 100 percent edible.

Mickey Mouse Cake
Remember how I vowed never again to use red as the main icing color?

When I watch cake-decorating videos, the people seem to be using twice as much icing as I normally do, which I think gives them more flexibility to smooth it all out. (And yet, their recipes don't seem to result in such large amounts...? It's a conspiracy. "Here's the amount of icing you'll need to cover the cake, unless you want it to look professional, and then you should secretly double it.")

In my effort to mimic their techniques and smooth the icing more easily, of course I overcompensated and made twice as much red icing as I needed to. Sure, I plopped plenty on the cake and wielded my spatula with great ease, but what I consider to be a large volume was leftover and wasted.

Maybe if I'd used the same amount of food coloring (i.e., all of it) with half the amount of sugar and butter, we would have seen better results. But then I bet you I'd have run out of icing and been spreading it thin. Also, even though my food coloring was the "no-taste" red, in large quantities, you can taste it.

Nevertheless, it did look red (red enough?) to the party guests, even with a red tablecloth right underneath it. I would call it a light red, but it wasn't pink as I'd originally feared when I left the colors to deepen overnight.

If I did it again, I would swap the tiers and use the white with little stars and Mickey heads for the large cake, and the red with white trouser buttons as the little smash cake on top.

And, I think four cakes are enough for one post. Parts 2 and 3 of my character-driven baking are here and here, respectively.

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