Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Adventures in birthday cakes - the Minecraft cake

This evening I wasted spent about four hours crafting small animals and people to top Cal's birthday cake. Thank goodness I baked the actual cake yesterday. Cal hates chocolate (weird, I know!), sometimes going so far as to actually spit it out after he takes a bite. So he always requests a vanilla cake. Somehow that seems a little too boring, so I made him a funfetti cake.

You can use any old white cake recipe, or even (*gasp*) a box mix, if you choose. The secret is to add in coloured sprinkles before you bake it. I make mine from scratch using this recipe.

Funfetti Cake Recipe
3 large eggs
1 cup of milk, divided
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups of white sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter
8 tbsp shortening
1/3 cup coloured sprinkles

Heat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease cake pans. I sometimes use two 9" pans, but this time used a single 10" square pan. 

Mix the eggs, 1/4 cup of milk, vanilla and almond extract in a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix until well combined. Add the butter and shortening and mix until incorporated into flour mixture. Add the remaining 3/4 cup milk and mix on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the egg mixture in two additions, mixing for 30 seconds each time. Mix for one more minute, and then gently fold in the sprinkles using a spatula.

Divide the mixture into two 9" pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Remove the pans from oven and let cool slightly before taking cakes out of pan. Cool completely before icing.

Since the Minecraft cake required a square pan and I only have one, I baked the recipe in a single pan. It took a long time for the center to cook, and probably dried it out too much around the edges. Lesson learned - next time I'll bake half and then clean the pan and bake the other half. 

While the cake bakes the sprinkles melt into the batter, and make it look so festive inside! Since I planned to use fondant to decorate, I whipped up a batch of buttercream icing to go between the layers and under the fondant. I use the standard Wilton recipe.

Then came the fun part - moulding small animals and Steve, the Minecraft guy, and decorating the cake with hundreds of tiny squares!

I used melted chocolate chips and kneaded them into the icing for the brown fondant, and painted on Steve's hair using melted chocolate and a small paintbrush. I also added a moustache, as it looked to me like he had one in pictures I looked at for reference. Apparently he doesn't, so that was a little bit of a fail. Oh well.

It was a lot of work, but I think it's just what Cal had in mind. It was too hard to get all of the little blocks the same size and thickness, so they're a little willy-nilly. If I were to ever make another one, I would cover the top in a single piece of green rolled fondant and score it to make it look like blocks. Then maybe put additional thin pieces of darker and lighter green fondant on top (just brush on a little water to melt the sugar a bit to glue them down) or use edible markers to colour some of the blocks.

It's hard to believe that tomorrow my "baby" will be seven!

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