Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

Baby Shower Topsy-Turvy Pastry Creme Abyss


Made in two nights for the baby shower of a good friend, to match the crib set she chose and the party decorations at the same time. Sizes are supposed to be 10-9-8, 8-7-6, 6-5-4 inches, though I don’t think I carved out that much from the bottoms. Bottom tier is chocolate with roasted hazelnuts Kahlua ganache, w/ Kahlua simple syrup and espresso to enhance the chocolate flavor of the cake layers (yes, of course the mom-to-be was made fully aware of the potential harmful effects the miniscule trace amounts of liquor and caffeine per slice could have on the developing baby – blah!), middle is vanilla with pastry crème (completely safe!), top is alternating chocolate and vanilla with pastry crème and buttercreme. Covered in SatinIce.


Some more details about this cake, and a picture of the abyss for desert:


… And this is what happens when a 3-tier topsy-turvy gets pastry crème as filling in the middle tier… Bottom was rock solid in its chocolate cake ganache – I think it would have supported the top layers even without the dowels, and the fondant went on as smooth as it ever could! But even while I was filling the vanilla tier, nicely mortared (!), I knew it wasn’t going to survive – I think my pastry crème layers were too generous even with the mortar, and the weight of it all shifted the carved bottom tortes off balance. Still, it survived long enough for pictures…


But that’s not all that went wrong with this cake – or rather this one tier:
— I had to bake one of the vanilla layers twice, as I did cake mix (Dr.Oetker Organics) plus extender, but was on the phone with a friend, and I forgot to add the butter for the extender (!) so it only had the vegetable oil for the mix and its texture would be very wrong – I realized that 5 min into the baking, as I saw my nicely soften butter on the counter – on the bright side, it was ready for the redo, and now I still have two frozen rounds waiting their turn for cake truffles.
— The milk for the pastry crème curdled when I heated it up (with an exp. date 9 days ahead) which threw me completely off schedule as I couldn’t run to the store that instant, in fact not until 4 hours later.
— The white SatinIce was a nightmare… It kept tearing, overstretching, and doing all kinds of weird things, and after the third roll, I decided it was going on the cake regardless – as you can see, it looks like a cheese cloth all over, not like fondant…


Our guests were terrified of losing the cake and wanted me to take it apart right away. I knew its structure had the strength to hold on for a few more minutes, even with the abyss widening, and I was very amused to see their fear of not getting to taste it should it fall over… Well… for a second topsy-turvy (my first was only two tiers) I think it did ok…


Moral of the story for me: I should stick with ganache and buttercream for the topsy-turvies, pastry crème is too much of pain for them, dam and mortar and all, and still a mud slide in the end… But there’s nothing that goes so nicely with vanilla cake as pastry crème, is there?! Maybe next time I’ll throw in a couple of sticks of butter into it, it’s going to keep it firmer, and butter cannot possibly spoil a cake, can it now?! 🙂 


Topsy-Turvy with pastry creme abyss!

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Baby Shower Onesie Cake


This Onesie® cake (yes, Gerber has a claim on the trademark even though it is a widely accepted generalized term) was for the surprise baby shower of a good friend. Unsuspecting, my friend thought she was coming over for some afternoon coffee, which we had almost made into a Thursday tradition this summer, only to be greeted by a bunch of girlfriends with 24-carat smiles, pink balloons and a pile of pink, heavily-ribboned  gift boxes.  About the onesie… I had seen a similar cake online, just decorated in buttercream instead of fondant. It is my favorite flourless Walnut Cake recipe, with cocoa meringue buttercream from the 1962 book… It is shaped from a 6-layer 9”x13” sheet cake, with the sleeves coming from the triangular cutouts at the bottom.  Hm…  cocoa meringue buttercream… I never know how to refer to this filling… “Meringue” is not exactly correct, as it uses whole eggs (not just the whites), which are mixed with sugar and boiled over low heat with constant beating (so you end up with a fluffy custard-like texture, and not scrambled eggs), then cooled off, again while beating constantly, and lastly, the already creamed butter with powdered sugar, cocoa and rum (and/or vanilla) is gradually added to the egg mixture. Yum!!!  The recipe calls for syrup, made of equal amounts of sugar and water, with the heavy addition of rum (which was used very sparingly in this case) to moisten and flavor the walnut cake layers.

Baby Girl Shower, Onesie Cake


Note: While back-dated to August – when the cake was made – this post was actually written in November, after I decided to offload into cyberspace my newly-discovered obsession with cakes…

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Baby Buggy Cake


In a way, the Flowers cake was a practice run – even though both cakes were made simultaneously in the same stretch of two days – for the Baby Buggy cake for the baby shower of another good friend. I had seen several pictures of buggy cakes online and I was looking for an excuse to make one. 


The large 12” cake is everyone’s favorite “Death by Chocolate”, and the two 6” wheels are vanilla cake with vanilla cream. Did those create some trouble!!!  


Stating that I had never worked with fondant before and I dislike freezing cakes for the sole purpose of easy decorating, I was set for a disaster.  


The decorating process was moving smoothly into the wee hours of the night, no major setbacks – except I had to learn the hard way that when directions say “roll thick”, I need to roll thick. Having come from the schooling of making paper-thin fillo dough sheets (not that I have ever had the time to do that in real life), and in general conditioned to think that thin is always better than thick (1/4” cake layer is better than 1/2″ cake layer, and 3/4″ cake layer is plain unacceptable; crapes are better than pancake, and so on), I went for rolling the fondant thin – *now* I know that it works with Choco-Pan, but for the plain ol’ Wilton, that was a recipe for failure.  


Without going into too much detail, and in retrospect feeling terribly sorry for not having woken up my husband to take pictures of the process (no way I could have touched a camera, I was rushing the cake in and out of its plastic cover, in and out of the refrigerator, to make sure the fondant cooled off to set as fast as I possibly could – silly, silly, inexperienced me, just making error after error!) I can safely say that eventually all cake pieces – body, wheels, handlebar and all – were semi-successfully covered in fondant, with at least the tops perfectly smooth. Someone should have told me that each cake needs to be on a cake board, it would have made my life sooo much easier…) I cut several dozens of flowers in yellow, pink and pastel green – no yellows and greens on this cake, you say? …Hm…Cake was safely in the fridge, my eyes were drooping heavily, but I was determined to finish the masterpiece before dawn or I would turn into a pumpkin… Placing the flowers on the cake was a breeze – the fondant was wet, from having been refrigerated under cover, but I thought that was good – they stuck like magnets. Didn’t even had a chance to take a picture of the complete buggy – shove it back in the fridge and went to sleep with a content grin.  


And in the morning… Oh, in the morning… The milk-based vanilla cream from the wheels had literally dissolved the fondant over them. Somebody should have told me to pipe buttercream on the sides of the cake layers first, so cream wouldn’t ooze out… Somebody should have also told me to never cover a cake in anything milk-based, should fondant be applied on top.  


I fought back tears, but unfortunately it didn’t occur to me to grab the camera and document the destruction.… I took a deep breath and, going into a Bob the Builder mode – Can we fix it? Yes we can! – I  scraped off the melted fondant from the entire cake, as  the devastation had spread where the wheels touched the body of the buggy, reshaped it as needed, and, out of pure luck – and lack of time – I simply creamed butter and powered sugar in an attempt to seal as much of the filling off as possible, put back the cake in the fridge and ran to Michale’s for more fondant. Of course, hubby had a demo or an expo or something otherwise important coming up and was at work, so I had to have the little thunder gods in tow, cranky and tired by the time we reached The Promised Fondant…. Because – or rather, another “of course” here – buying fondant had to take over two hours, as the two closest stores didn’t have any of the 5-lb boxes, anything smaller than that was plain useless for me… Store number three was a winner, as confirmed on the phone. And thankfully, the baby shower was on Sunday, while this was only Saturday early afternoon.  


The decorating process was repeated that evening. My friend stayed over, after getting hubby and baby to sleep back home, to “watch and learn” the process, she did help cutting out the flowers and I certainly felt good having some moral support at 3am.  


I was scared to peak into the cake the next morning… When I braved under the plastic cover, the cake had successfully survived the night and was ready to be admired upon.  The mom-to-be loved it, and apparently it was a subject of talks for days to come.



Baby Buggy Cake


Note: While back-dated to August – when the cake was made – this post was actually written in November, after I decided to offload into cyberspace my newly-discovered obsession with cakes…

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