Bugger! I’m getting behind. Too much baking, not enough blogging (or picture taking, as you will soon discover).
One of the guys in my office had a baby over the holidays (well, his wife did, he’s not that man-with-girl-parts person who has been in the news in recent years). It seems everyone at our company thinks working in December is optional, so we never threw him a baby shower…until last Friday. But better late than never, right? Unfortunately for my immediate team members, there was an actual reason for the baking this time, so they were be forced by the laws of social graces to share. They were remarkably law abiding this time too, I have to say. Way to go, team!
This was my first attempt and making a full-fledged fancy pants decorated cake, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the way it turned out (even if it’s not terribly fancy pants). Modesty is not my forte. Neither is time management. I tend to over commit on projects, and last week was one of those weeks, so in the interest of saving time and what small amount of sanity I possess, I cheated a little on this cake by using a cake mix for the base. I swear I had every intention of going all Martha Stewart on this bad boy by using her lemon cake recipe, but since it was untested in my book, I thought it safer to go with something more predictable. To standard lemon cake mix I added lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract and about 3 TBSP (2 decent sized dollops) of sour cream for a little density, but otherwise followed the package directions.
So, I started out with 2 9×13 sheet cakes, leveled flat (you can do that with a knife or a handy-dandy cake leveler). Save the cake scraps for a nifty cakey snack I’ll tell you about in another post. I covered the bottom sheet cake with a thin layer of lemon curd (oh how I hate the word curd), then a thin layer of blueberry preserves (I cooked it down with some sugar water to make it more syrupy, but you could just use the preserves too).
Then I topped the curd and preserves with lemon buttercream frosting.
And then guess what I did!!! Well, yes, you’re right, I DID put the second pre-leveled layer on…but I ALSO completely stopped taking photos til it was done. I am SO good at this. So, I’ll just give you a brief synopsis of the next few steps:
Once the top layer was on, I cut the cake into the shape of a baby onesie. I did this free-hand, but I’d sketched out a picture of a onesie on paper before I cut, so I had a rough idea of the shape I was going for. Then I crumb-coated* the whole cake and put it in the fridge overnight to set. The next day I dyed the rest of the lemon buttercream frosting baby blue (reserving a little for the decorations later) and frosted the whole thing.
I need to work on my cake decorating handwriting. But i’m still pretty damn pleased how close the reality looks like the picture in my head. That NEVER happens (um, no. I’m not just talking about baking).
There were also some pretty rockin’ cupcakes at this party, but those are for another post…
*Crumb-coating = putting a very thin layer of icing on the cake and not caring if it gets all full of crumbs, that’s the point. This is very hard for my brain to accept, but it works out in the long run. Refrigerate or freeze the crumb coated cake for a few hours or over night and it makes it a breeze to spread the final frosting on without getting annoying bits of cake in the frosting.
I already told you how I made this.
I didn’t measure anything other than the Betty Crocker stipulated ingredients.
I am of not much help to you here.
Lemon Buttercream Frosting (yuuummmm)
(adapted from Kiss My Bundt)
3/4 C unsalted butter
3 C sifted powdered sugar
zest of one lemon (I left this out because I wanted smooth frosting)
1 tsp lemon extract
2-2.5 tsp. milk (enough to thin to a spreading consistency
1. With an electric mixer, cream butter on medium speed
2. With mixer on low, slowly add sifted sugar
3. When sugar is fully incorporated, add zest and extract
4. Then add your milk by tsp until it reaches the spreading consistency you want.
5. Continue to mix on medium until fluffy (if you’re adding color, add it here)
Side note: I skipped the last 3 ingredients. I wanted it really lemony and didn’t have extract, so I used lemon juice to do the thinning and the flavoring. I probably used about 3 Tbsp.