Come with me as I again travel through the bizarro world of me making “cute” stuff. Yes, I’m doing another post that is not typical of me at all. Some people call this kind of thing broadening your horizons, or stretching yourself or experimenting. Trust me, my horizons have already been broadened (as is evidenced by my having to buy larger jeans. Stretching myself is what I do in the morning when I’m getting out of bed in the morning to make sure all of my bones and joints are all aligned and when I put my feet on the floor I’ll be able to walk and not fall into a blob. And as far as experimenting…I thought that’s what college was for. So bear with me today as we travel down a road of buttercups, violets and cake baking.
Last week I ran the cutesy post of flowery brownie pops that I made for the Great American Bake Sale. You might also remember that I used my easy marshmallow fondant recipe for the petals on the pops. Since I had some of the fondant leftover, that I didn’t want to waste, I used it to make decorations for this great tasting Mothers Day cake.
Yes, I also remember telling you that the brownie pops were a great substitute for an actual Mothers Day cake. So why am I posting an actual cake, you ask? It all happened this weekend….
I belong to a food bloggers group here in LA. Yes, it’s a bunch of food geeks getting together and geeking out over great food. We also do some business stuff too, but really….it’s all about the food. The theme for yesterday’s meet up was Mother’s Day. We were to bring some dish that represented our mom in one way or another. These dishes ran the gamut from cookies to a re-invented Swanson’s frozen meatloaf dinner (in a foil compartmentalized tray and everything.) This cake was my dish.
Growing up, my mother made wedding cakes (professionally). I spent the better part of my youthful summers helping her cart cakes across NE Ohio in the back of our station wagon. I was responsible for corralling the cake layers and keeping them from mashing into one another as my father took corners at mach 3. I was also in charge of running interference on meddling mothers and mother-in-laws as they attempted to tell my mother how to set up the cake. Upon their approach it was my my job to turn on the redheaded pigtail cute kid charm and distract.
Clearly, cake baking and decorating skills are not genetic. I can bake the cake, but when it comes to decorating….um…not so much. My mom is a genius at cranking out beautiful frosting roses. All of her attempts at teaching me this skill were completely wasted. Completely. So this cake is somewhat of an homage to my mother. I say somewhat because it’s not even close to what she makes, but the flavor was good and I think the decorating job on this is pretty cute.
While mom used boxed cake mixes for her wedding cakes, I took things a step further. I also used a boxed white cake mix recipe, but I added some violet flavor to the batter to give it more of a Springlike flavor. I also added coloring to the batter to make the cake a pretty shade of violet purple. It seems that there are lots of recipes with white cake mix out there, so I used white cake as my base. I also chose to use the white cake because it’s existing flavor is something that works really well with the subtle violet flavor. By the way…you need to be careful when you’re working with flowery flavors so that your finished recipe doesn’t taste like a bar of soap. It’s a slippery slope with those flavors (horribly bad pun intended).
With the doctored up white cake mix recipe done, it was time to figure out how to decorate my ‘masterpiece.’ I use that term really loosely given the fact that my cake ended up not quite round (due to my poor stacking and frosting skills). I used my mom’s tried and true Wilton frosting recipe, but opted to utilize my leftover marshmallow fondant (more of my using up leftovers crusade). You can find the marshmallow fondant recipe by searching my site or by clicking the highlighted words in this sentence.
I opted for little flowers to top the cake because I thought that decorating with a bunch of these buttercups, all piled on to one another, might distract from the less than circular shape of the cake and my not so stellar frosting technique.
You may have noticed that there are no pictures of the inside of the cake. That’s not because this isn’t a real cake, it is, but….Let’s just say when I was slicing the cakes in half they didn’t quite end up evenly sliced. The final cake was level, but the layers weren’t necessarily the same thickness. I had Craig helping me for the first 2 (which were the worst) and that was my first mistake. I think his guidance was self-serving in that there were plenty of cake scraps for him to devour. I have since learned to measure the cake layer and insert toothpicks around the cake at the place where you need to slice. The second layer slicing went much better.
So from this point forward, I will probably not be posting many cakes (at least not decorated cakes) on the site. A cupcake or two, but full-blown cakes I’m going to leave to my mom. Maybe when I go home to visit her we’ll make one together that I’ll post so you can see her mad skills.
Do you share the same skill(s) as your mom or did it/they skip a generation like mine?
Speaking of Mother’s Day. I thought I would share with you a list of the strangest Mother’s Day gifts I’ve found. I won’t name names as to who suggested these and I’m not even going to comment on them. I’ll just let you take a look at them and form your own opinions. Hey, maybe you’ll even get an idea or two for your own mom (or mother-in-law whom you like or don’t).
A sex book for mom
A basket of cleaning products
A vacuum cleaner
A toilet seat clock (supposedly vintage)
Recipe: White Cake Mix Recipe
- 1 Box White Cake Mix
- 6 Tablespoons Violet Flavored Syrup
- Purple Food Coloring
- 1 Pound Powdered Sugar
- 2/3 Cup Vegetable Shortening
- 1/3 Cup Milk
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Mix cake mix following instructions on package.
- While mixing batter, add the violet syrup and thoroughly mix into batter.
- Add in enough purple food coloring until you get the desired shade.
- Bake cake according to instructions on box.
- While cake is baking, mix up the frosting.
- Place the sugar into a large bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl.
- Beat until frosting is bright white and lighter in consistency (I used a stand mixer and beat it for 4 minutes).
- Scrape into a container, cover and refrigerate until needed.
- Once cakes have cooled, make sure that the tops are level. If they are not, slice the tops until they are.
- You can then cut the cakes in half if you would like to have 4 layers, or you can leave them in tact and have 2 layers.
- Place first layer onto a plate.
- Cover top of cake with a layer of frosting. The thickness depends on how much you like frosting. It doesn’t need to be any thicker than quarter of an inch though.
- Carefully lay the next cake layer on top of the icing and make sure everything is evenly aligned on the sides. Gently push evenly on this layer so that it ‘sticks’ to the filling.
- Cover this layer with frosting, just like the last one and continue doing this for all of the layers.
- Now you will ice the top and sides of the cake with a light layer of frosting called the crumb layer. (It’s called that because this layer catches all of the crumbs in the frosting so that your final layer of frosting doesn’t have any crumbs in it.)
- Let the cake sit for few hours until the crumb coat can dry.
- Once dry, you can smooth on a thicker layer fo frosting (this will be your final layer of frosting).
- If you want the finish to be smooth, fill a tall glass with warm water.
- Dip your offset spatula (the perfect tool for icing a cake) into the warm water and shake off the excess. Then run the warm blade over the top of the icing you wish to smooth.
- If you collect excess icing on your spatula, scrape it off onto the side of the glass or a dish. Continue doing this until you get the look you want.
- If you are adding the fondant flowers, you can do this now, while the frosting is still wet.
- If you’re going to decorating the cake with piped on frosting, let the icing dry first.
I did not include any directions in this post for the fondant decorations. That can be found in the link to the fondant recipe. If you would like to specifically know how I made these buttercups, just leave me a comment and I will happily give you more specific instructions for doing that.
The syrup that I used in this cake mix was the bottled variety that you find at coffee houses to flavor coffees. If you wanted to use a different flavor, that would work fine. Just pick up your favorite flavor.
To keep your cake plate clean while frosting your cake…once you lay the fist layer of cake on the plate tear 4 strips of wax paper into 3″ wide strips. Slide them partially under the cake. Leave enough sticking out so that you can pull them out from under the cake when you are done decorating and everything has dried.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
Culinary tradition: USA (General)
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