I have no excuses for how long I've left this blog, except to say that, while I love cooking and baking, I haven't been feeling the urge to do it that often recently. Also, I've been trying to get back into shape after hardly being able to exercise at all for about four months, and eating homemade baked goods doesn't fit into that plan very seamlessly.
Nevertheless, I am here to report on the birthday cake I made for Anders this year! The photo above is just a teaser...
OK... so I really wanted to document this whole process with photos, but there were a couple factors involved in my failure to do that. 1) I was a nervous WRECK because I was, with the help of some friends and the cooperation of the entire cross-country/distance track team, planning and trying desperately to pull off a surprise party for Anders, so I was really busy, and 2) I'm out of practice so I just... forgot. See, I finally found this amazing recipe for a classic vanilla, yellow cake, which I used, and I wanted so badly to share it with everyone. And I will! My birthday is two weeks from tomorrow, and I'm planning on making cupcakes with this recipe for my classes (because I'm 22 going on 7 apparently), so I will post it then! I promise!
So what is this post all about then, if not a super awesome recipe for yellow cake? Well, this year was the first time I ever tried to do anything fun with Anders' birthday cake. I decided to make a 9x13 sheet cake and FROST A TRACK ONTO IT.
Anders' birthday tends to fall right around the middle of indoor track season for Canadian universities, and most (if not all) of our friends are runners, so I thought it was appropriate. I went out and bought the pan specically for it. I also bought Wilton frosting tip #233 to make real-looking grass AROUND the track. Want to see a detail photo of that?
It was a lot of fun to do! The only problem was that I kept melting the frosting in my hands, which is why you can see spots where the frosting is just a big blob on the cake... See, I had to keep a desk lamp out in the kitchen so I could see my colours properly and make sure they were mixing correctly. Plus my hands were flippin' hot from being so nervous. It wasn't a great combination. But everyone was really impressed and even though when I look at the photos now I think "it looks like a 12 year-old frosted that cake..." I'm pleased with how it turned out and how happy Anders was with it, and how much everyone at the party liked it.
Also, if you look at it from an artsy angle and kind of unfocus the one end (as if you're a camera lens.........) it looks way better.
Seriously, though. I'm sorry I was away for so long. I made cookies a couple of days ago so I'll post those soon, and I promise I'll make delicious cupcakes and post about those too in the next couple of weeks. So there are a few things to look forward to in the near future!
Oh, and in case you're wondering, I used the Wilton buttercream frosting recipe to frost this cake. I've posted about this recipe before, and you can find that here. But here's the thing: that recipe, as it is, is disgusting. So here's how I ACTUALLY make my version of the Wilton buttercream frosting.
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons milk or water
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon meringue powder
pinch of salt (optional)
Cream together butter, vanilla, milk/water and salt if using (it's good to dissolve the salt in the liquid, otherwise it might dissolve later in your frosting and mess up the colours). Add confectioners' sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing well at medium speed after each addition. Add the meringue powder with one of the cups of sugar, and continue mixing on medium speed until all ingredients have been thoroughly mixed together. Mix for an additional minute or so, until creamy.
This recipe makes about three cups of stiff consistency frosting. Wilton has three consistencies they use in class and it's actually pretty useful to know them and what they're used for.
Stiff consistency is used for things like flowers with upright petals, like the Wilton rose or sweet peas.
Medium consistency is used for stars (with the star tips), figure piping, borders (like the shell border) and flowers with petals that lie flat. To make medium consistency frosting, add one teaspoon of water for each cup of stiff frosting, or one tablespoon if you want to make the full recipe medium consistency.
Thin consistency is used for writing, making vines, leaves and frosting the cake. To make thin consistency frosting, add two teaspoons of water for each cup of stiff frosting, or two tablespoons for the full recipe.