Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Daun's Baby Shower

Baby girl. Good friends. Yummy food. Pretty decorations. Lots of presents. Perfect afternoon.
I was asked to make the cake. My first thought: Woo hoo! I get to bake and decorate a cake! My second thought: Wow, I'm completely honored. My next thought: Utter horror. I'm such a perfectionist. I'm such a people-pleaser. And while I bake for other people all the time, I have never decorated a cake for anyone other than my own daughter. And let's be honest --> she doesn't care if everything isn't just right, as long as I let her eat as much as she likes.

That being said, I had a lot of fun creating a fun cake - or I should say cakes - for the shower! Check out my inspiration. Not that I followed the recipe, or any of the suggestions. It was just a starting point.

So here we go... I started a week early and made the candy decorations. Baby candy molds, check. Pink candy melts, check. Melt candies, fill up the molds, tap to get out the air bubbles, refrigerate for about 15 minutes, pop out, repeat. (I also wanted to spell out B-A-B-Y but couldn't find candy molds of letters. So I printed off some templates from Word, put parchment paper on top of the templates, and piped the candy into the shape of the letters.) 
No need to get the candy into all the crevices when filling the mold -
just tap the mold against the counter a couple times and it spreads out on its own!
The next day I baked the cake. I cheated. I used a boxed mix. I'm ok with that. However, at this point I made a mistake that I paid for later --> I used an extra-moist mix, one with pudding. When I was icing the cake I vaguely remembered reading somewhere that these were not good for decorating. It's possible, it just takes more effort since there are more crumbs.
My little taste-tester
I wrapped up the cake and took a couple days off... but the entire time I was thinking that the sheet cake was not quite thick enough to cut in half to add the filling.

I ended up making a second sheet cake. Better to have extra cake than not enough.

After the second cake had cooled, I used my favorite tool - the leveler - to cut the tops off both cakes. I slapped on some canned cream cheese frosting (Yep, cheated again. Still ok with it.) and inverted the second cake on top. Then I measured off 2" squares and sliced away. I seriously felt like I was on an episode of Ace of Cakes. I've never sculpted a cake before. Not that this was exactly sculpting, but it was more cutting than I've ever done on a cake.

I stuck all of these little squares in the fridge overnight, determined to finish strong.

Saturday morning I spent some time with my husband and little girl. They had been so good about letting me work on my project, so we headed downtown to Gus' Pretzels (Olivia called them doughnuts!), and then to Cherokee Street to do some antique window-shopping. It was a nice break. And I picked up some great ideas for another shower coming up later this summer... but I'm getting off track. Nap time brought us back home, and found me back in the kitchen.

I made frosting from scratch for the decorating - yep, good ole' buttercream. It took me a full 3 hours to crumb-coat all of those crazy little cakes. I'll be honest - I've always skipped this step in the past. But I watched a great tutorial that made it look so easy and really convinced me to try it. I will say that even though it took me what seemed like forever, it was completely worth it. (I wonder how much easier it would have been without the extra-moist cake mix...?)
Crumb-coating seals in the crumbs. Then you refrigerate the cake to harden the icing.
After a break for supper, I started in on the actual frosting. The final coat of frosting went on so much faster and spread out so much easier thanks to the hardened crumb coating. Then came the fun part - decorating. I made some chocolate buttercream and piped on the "edges" of the blocks. You can tell I was winding down at this point since I didn't take pictures of the in-between steps. :-) Finally I was able to add the finishing touch of the candies, stuck on with a little more buttercream frosting. {Disclaimer -- if you don't like frosting, these are not the cakes for you!}

The finished product!!!
After putting together the cakes, it was so much fun to relax with the girls at the shower and catch up. Can't wait to meet Daun's little baby girl!
The girls: Beth, Angelica, Allison, Daun, Amanda, Amy, Renee, Marcy, and yours truly
Happy baking!

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