So my peanut turned 6 last week and had a birthday party with her friends this past weekend. Obviously, there was going to be cake… and obviously, I was going to make it. This was a reasonable thing to plan to do. It really was.
But then I must have experienced some sort of traumatic head injury resulting in delusions of grandeur wherein I believed I could actually make the cake she requested: a half chocolate half vanilla cake shaped like a daisy, with a yellow center and pink petals. I blithely said “sure”. And that was that.
Until reality set in. I give myself credit for being able to bake delicious cake and mix up delicious icing, but when it comes to the cake decorating I don’t really have the chops. But here I found myself, committed to making this daisy cake while the hopes and dreams of my darling 6 year old were riding on it. (This is a little dramatic, I know, but I got really close to the page on this one and that’s really what it felt like.)
Ok, my real plan was to go to the party store to buy one of these daisy cake pans and just frost it in the requested colors. Of course, that plan was foiled as they had only Sponge Bob and Hannah Montana cake pans. Really. And since I waited until two days before to buy it, there’s no time to get one from Amazon. So now, I have to improvise and that’s not really such a good idea when it comes to me and cake decorating. But, onward none the less.
I feel as though I should rename this cake the Winston Churchill cake in honor of his “Never, never, never, never give in” speech. Because, gosh darn-it, this cake wanted me to give in at about six hundred different points (from running out of butter and then vanilla, to overflowing bowls of batter, to the petals falling apart while I tried to ice them resulting in the ugliest most difficult crumb coat in the history of crumb coats – see the photos above) and I just didn’t give in. So there. I’m going to publicly swear that I’m not going to do this again next year. But, somehow, I suspect that I will. Sigh. Actually, probably as soon as March, for Andy’s birthday. He wants a fire engine cake. I’m doomed.
The cakes tasted delicious (I snuck quite a bit of the scraps)! But they just didn’t look right at all. Evelyn thought it was beautiful, but to me it just looked like a plain nothing and that made me sad. After 12 hours of doing battle with this cake I was on the verge of giving in. Until I remembered that I had a ringer in my corner. A ringer named Susan. A ringer who made these. At 10:30pm the night before I e-mailed Susan and she showed up at my house the next morning with her “kit”. Like a doctor making a house call to save a dying patient. She saved the day, she saved my ass, and she made a freaking BEAUTIFUL CAKE. And her moral support and unwavering encouragement is the only thing that got me through to the end with this cake, and it’s the only thing that’s going to get me through that fire engine cake in March!
It looked fantastic, and tasted damn good too.
Public thanks also need to go out to Adam, for his late night run to the market to buy more butter and vanilla extract; and to Evelyn, for being worth every minute of it.
The Chocolate Cake
The recipe is exactly from Smitten Kitchen’s Double Chocolate Layer Cake. Yum!
(Except I used decaf coffee and Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips because it’s safe for people with peanut allergies. I use sucanat instead of white sugar. Oh, and I doubled the recipe, which is totally unnecessary for normal and sane people.)
The Vanilla Cake (I’ve had this recipe for so long I know I got it from somewhere but I can’t remember where. I doubled this also for my ridiculous experiment here, but I’ll give it to you in it’s original form which is for two 9 inch cakes.)
12 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cups sugar (I use sucanat)
2 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 large egg whites
3/4 cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the work bowl of an electric mixer beat together the sugar and butter for about 5 minutes or until it’s light and fluffy.
In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Beat together with a fork the egg whites, milk, and vanilla.
Alternating, beginning and ending with the flour, add the flour and milk mixtures to the butter and sugar. Scrape the bowl down often.
Prepare two 9 inch cake pans by greasing and dusting them with flour.
Pour half the batter into each cake pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.
The Buttercream Frosting
The recipe is directly from Smitten Kitchen’s Swiss Buttercream except, did you know that you can make Swiss buttercream with powdered sugar if you run out of granulated?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Well, you can!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I found out the hard way and now you know too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Crumb Coat & Piping Icing
15 tbsp unsalted butter
36 oz. powdered (I use organic powdered evaoprated cane juice)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk
Combine in a stand mixer and blend until smooth.
I’m not even going to give you any more details on this delicious disaster because if you want to bake a normal cake, the recipes are here, and I can’t imagine anyone has any desire to replicate my bizarreness.