Thursday, January 14, 2021

Adventures in Cake Decorating #5 - TV and Movie Cakes, Part 3

Did you know? Little kids are into cartoon characters. So, I am again continuing the collection of TV- and movie-themed cakes I've created in recent history... (Parts 1 and 2 here and here, respectively.)

Paw Patrol Cupcakes

We've experienced a variety of birthday celebrations (and non-celebrations) during the pandemic, including this "walk by," front-yard party in May. Everyone got their own individually packaged Paw Patrol cupcake.

The adventure here was more in finding the packaging than it was making the cupcakes. Cake mix, white icing, and two Paw Patrol cupcake decorating kits, (bone-shaped sprinkles!) and... an online order of cupcake boxes that disappeared.

Other searches online brought up containers that didn't seem the right size, or seemed awfully expensive for just a single clamshell, or wouldn't arrive in time, or came in a pack of, like, a thousand.

Ultimately, we went to GFS and bought plastic cups with lids. A little on the tall side, but otherwise perfect cupcake packages. 

Important consideration: Use the lid as the "plate" for the cupcake, and the cup itself as a lid. So, it's upside down, got it? Otherwise, if you drop the cupcake into the cup and use the lid as a lid, the cupcake recipient will have to reach their fingers way down into the cup to pull out the cupcake or otherwise dump it out into their hand frosting-first. 

Another Ninja Turtle Cake

This one was a simple round cake with the face of the birthday boy's favorite turtle, Raphael.

Nothing to it!

Superman-Secret-Batman Cake

You've seen the Batman-Spiderman cake. This was a Superman cake, with a hidden secret Batman symbol inside!

For the Superman icing, I piped a simple outline and then filled everything in using a star tip.

The secret Batman on the inside required much more work behind the scenes. Here's a rundown:

First, bake a chocolate, single-layer sheet cake. I added black food coloring to the chocolate to make it even darker. When the chocolate cake is cool, use a bat cookie cutter to cut out a whole bunch of bats. 

A note: Check the size of your cookie cutter against the pan for the outer cake. For this particular cake, you're going to stand the bats up inside of a round cake pan, so they need to be shorter than sides of the pan, or else you'll have bat ears--if not entire bat heads--sticking up out of the top of your yellow cake.

And, a lesson learned: I mistakenly thought a super-moist chocolate cake would be important for this step, because this chocolate cake will be baked again, and I didn't want it to dry out. However, the moisture that makes a decadent chocolate cake also makes the cake fall apart--not ideal for trying to hold an intricate shape. I had a rough time cutting out the bats and then keeping their bat-shape. A genoise sponge might work better. And, it won't dry out during the second bake, because it's surrounded by more cake batter.

Next, make a "wreath" of bat cut-outs in a circular cake pan. Stand each bat upright, standing on his wingtips, place another one next to him, and so on, making a line of bats that circles back on itself. 

Note: I then did a little extra cutting and smushing to fill in gaps, because, unless your cut-outs are already wedge-shaped so you can put the skinny side toward the center of the circle, there will be a space between each bat around the outer edge of your circle. Gaps are not the end of the world, but the luck of your cake-cutting may reveal a small break in the bat pattern.

Last, pour the yellow cake batter over and around the wreath of bats to fill in the rest of the cake pan. Bake slightly less time then the directions for the size of the pan you're using, because about half of the actual volume of the pan is already baked.

And then, you'll just have to wait until your start cutting it open at the party to see how the secret bats inside turned out!

Another Frozen (movie) Cake

While an ice-cream cake would have rounded out the theme in the best way, this is just an ordinary round cake sitting on top of an ordinary square cake. There were two fun new (to me) cake decorations, though.

We found pre-printed sugar sheets at a party store (the image of the movie characters as well as the snowflakes on the bottom tier). It's a lot like prepared fondant. Smooth some buttercream on your cake and place the sugar sheet on top. Fold, wrap, smooth, trim it however you need. It's an excellent shortcut to mimic the cake-printing a bakery can do for you.

And, sugar glass. Rock candy in sheet form. You can find many recipes and instructions out there, and they typically involve white sugar plus corn syrup, water, cream of tartar, and, of course, food coloring if you want. We made some blue and some clear.

After boiling your ingredients, pour the molten sugar into a lightly greased sheet pan and let it cool and harden. Then, pick up the pan and drop it on the counter to shatter. Fun.

Note: Humidity is the enemy of your sugar glass. A hot and humid kitchen will cause the candy to sweat. If you're sticking the shards of sugar glass into the cake like we did in reference to Elsa's castle, do it as near to presentation/serving time as you can, because the moisture from the cake itself will begin to soften the glass. 

Multi-Hero Cake

Six superheroes are represented on this rectangular cake, thanks to some card-stock stencils my sister made on her Cricut.

Maybe you don't need stencils. Maybe you can draw these superhero icons freehand. I didn't trust my own precision. If I remember right, I piped only the spiderweb and the lightning bolt freehand.

We applied the icing as though we were screen-printing, one layer of color at a time, letting it "dry" before applying the next layer so the colors wouldn't bleed together. First, we made the six solid-color squares and then chilled the cake in the fridge for a few minutes or more, however long needed so the buttercream "crusted," or solidified a bit. Do a touch test. Can you gently poke a dent in the buttercream without it sticking to your finger?

Using Iron Man as an example, we lay the stencil of Iron Man's helmet on the yellow square and gently dabbed and spread in the red portions. Then, we carefully lifted the stencil straight up off of the cake and put the cake back in the fridge so the red icing can harden. The next step was laying the stencil back on, lining it up with the red sections already in place, and then dabbing and spreading in the white piece. Ta-da! 

We did something to each square each time the cake came out of the fridge. It was not necessarily the same color being applied to every square, but rather working in whatever layers made sense for that particular image. Example: At the same stage we stenciled in Iron Man's red outline, we made the outer red ring of Captain America's shield and the red portions of Superman's S. But, we also made the yellow oval for Batman's symbol, the white circle for the Flash, and the black spiderweb for Spiderman.

Then, to finish and cover up the borders between each square, I piped a flat gray ribbon and added rivets for a cool, welded metal thing.

Oh! I almost forgot. And a red fruit roll-up cascading off the corner for Superman's cape. Now, ta-da!


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