Monday, February 28, 2011

Birthday Cake (part 3)

My apologies for those of you who have been waiting on this. Just seems as though I've been cooking a lot of my favorites lately and just can't wait to share them with you. Time to prioritize, get things in order.
So. . . even though I made a great Brown Rice Salad this weekend;
and. . . even though I made crepes last week;
and. . . even though I went to the restaurant supply store and can't wait to tell you about my adventure. . . I'm going to take this opportunity for us to finish up our Birthday Cake, if I wait any longer it'll get forgotten and we don't want that to happen. So. . . lets make a cake!

If you followed Birthday Cake (part 1) and Birthday Cake (part 2) then you should have everything made and be ready for assembly. There is just a bit of equipment that isn't essential but very helpful. (click on the links and you can see what they look like):
- Revolving Cake Stand
- a piece of "grippy shelf liner"
  (I found some already cut into 6 inch rounds at the Dollar Store)
- 8-inch cardboard cake circles
- Cake icer tip and large pastry bag
- Large offset spatula
- Scraper
- Rimmed Cookie Sheet
- Cooling rack
- Ladle
- Disposable icing bags
- Large star icing tip (Ateco #855) for the border
- #4 icing tip for writing on the cake

Now let's get started.

Lay the grippy liner on your cake stand. 
This will keep the cardboard cake circle from sliding around as you ice the cake.

Next, lay the 8-inch cake circle on the grippy liner and put a dab of buttercream in the center.

Lay down one of the cake layers and spread with 1/2 the raspberry filling. Add another cake layer and the other 1/2 of the filling and top with a final layer of cake. Notice that the 8-inch cardboard round is slightly larger than the cake, which was baked in an 8-inch cake pan. As the cake cools it shrinks up a bit so it ends up about 7-3/4 inches. This gap between the cake and board is just about an 1/8 inch which is just about the amount of buttercream that you want on the cake. This will make more sense in later steps. Trust me, I wouldn't lead you astray! 

Fit a large pastry bag with the icer tip and fill with buttercream. I used a large disposable bag which I got at work. You can use a large zipper bag, that will work just fine.

Ice the sides and top of the cake. Neatness doesn't count here, you just want to get a nice layer of buttercream on all parts of the cake. NOTE: Icing a smooth cake is more about "taking away" then "adding on" the buttercream. So, within reason, get a pretty generous amount on the cake.

Using the off-set spatula smooth the buttercream around the sides first, scraping any excess off. Resting your spatula against the edge of the cardboard round, holding it parallel to the cake,  rotate the cake stand to smooth the buttercream. This will leave a nice 1/8-inch layer of buttercream on the cake. You can also use a "pastry scraper". Rest the side of the scraper on the cake stand, butting the edge up against the cardboard round. (see the next photo and ignore my unmanicured creepy looking hand!) Again, rotate the cake stand to smooth the edges. Smooth the top with the spatula, by starting at the edge and smoothing towards the center. NOTE: The edge of the spatula should be at about a 45° angle to the surface of the cake. Once you have the buttercream nice and smooth, put the cake in the freezer for a good hour. You want the buttercream very firm for the next step.

My apologies for this bad picture. Lots going on between the reflection of my orange scarf and my weird looking thumb. I hope a the least you get the idea on how to get even straight sides on your cake.

While the cake chills, get set up to glaze your cake. Place a rack over a rimmed cookie sheet. Again have an offset spatula handy. If you made the glaze ahead then reheat it over a double boiler until it is nice and smooth. Then cool to 100°F. Once your glaze is to the right temperature, take the cake out of the freezer and place it on the rack.

Pour or ladle the glaze all over the cake; starting in the center of the top and using the spatula to spread it over the sides. Try to get the entire cake covered in one continuous "pour" so that you don't get "ripples". My glaze was a little cold and I didn't go fast enough (busy taking pictures) so I got ripples. Now, as far as I'm concerned, it looks fine. Back in my 20s, when I was obsessed with perfection and all things "Martha Stewart", those ripples would have really bothered me. But I'm in my 40s, raising two kids, nurturing a marriage, working part time, writing a blog and I just don't have the energy to worry about ripples. Anyway, who cares, still tasted great and isn't that what counts!

Allow the glaze to set for 10-15 minutes then transfer the cake to a serving plate. Finish it off with a buttercream border around the bottom and a message on top. Voila, birthday cake. For best results, store your cake in the refrigerator until about 30 minutes before you want to serve it. Then take it out and let it come to room temperature. Cake is always better at room temperature. Good Luck and. . .



  1. Awesome!!! Looks delicious. I love the idea of the chocolate glaze over the frosting. Yum. I've resisted buying the revolving stand but I may need to cave in.

    How do you move the cake once there is frosting to the edge of the cardboard?

  2. The revolving cake stand is such a help. Not only that it turns but that it raises the cake up so it's easier to work on. I'd advise you to invest in a good quality one with a heavy base.

    I use a spatula to lift and move the cake during the process. Just slip it under the cardboard and lift just enough to get your fingers underneath. I have a commercial spatula that is long wide and very sturdy but any will do just make sure not to rely on the spatula for supporting the weight of the cake.