Monday, July 27, 2009

I Did It!!

Well, I listened to absolutely no one (except myself) and made a sandcastle cake for Price's first birthday! I am so happy I did, it turned out great and we had a great time at the party (more to follow on that in an upcoming post).

Everyone I asked said I shouldn't make the cake myself because it would add more stress to an already chaotic situation. However, I knew in my heart of hearts I would never feel 100% OK with buying a cake (no matter how cute) for P-Man's 1st birthday. After reading this post in one of my new favorite blogs (thanks KJ for the recommendation), it cemented it for me that I would make Price's cake.

Once I decided to bake the cake myself, I did something rather uncharacteristic and planned ahead. Typically when I cook something, I get inspiration while walking through the store and throw everything together at the last minute. This time, I wanted to prove to the naysayers all of my family and friends who had my best interest at heart that I could do this and do it well. So, off I went in search of a great cake recipe. I went to the library and checked out The Perfect Cake. I also read and reread both The Joy of Cooking and The Better Homes and Garden Cookbook, two of my most trustworthy baking companions. I even consulted with Martha. Through all my searching high and low, I couldn't find a recipe that sounded tasty or easy enough. I also got realistic with myself and thought back to my many previous from scratch cake disasters, and decided to use a box mix, but doctor it up a bit. (One day I will learn to bake a perfectly delicious cake from scratch).

I knew I wanted to do a banana flavored cake with a caramel icing so I could get the "sand" to stick to the cake. Once again, the Internet came to my rescue and I found the perfect cake mix recipe for a banana cake. (I did not use the caramel frosting recipe listed here, I used this one instead. I made this recipe twice (I don't believe in doubling during baking because it never turns out right when I do) in order to make one 9" x 13" bottom layer and two 4" x 6" top layers. I had enough leftover batter for 4 cupcakes. Even though the party wasn't until Sunday, I baked the cake on Friday!

The main ingredients. However, the recipe calls for banana liqueur which I couldn't find at my local Meijer, so I substituted with banana rum instead.

Mashed bananas aren't as lovely as when they are in their peels.

The the dry doctoring ingredients added to the box mix- cinnamon and brown sugar, looks like two eyes and a pair of lips.

Not quite delicious looking yet.

At least it is the color of sand!

Cake #3, the third layer.

The bottom layer cooling off before being wrapped and frozen.

I baked three cakes and 4 cupcakes. I allowed the cakes to cool and then wrapped them in many layers of saran wrap and froze them until Sunday morning.

I forgot to take pictures of the icing process, so here is the final product....

The Sandcastle Cake, several people thought it was real sand.

Very happy baby realizing there is fun to be had on the table.

The sandcastle look was achieved by first frosting the cake with caramel icing that was still warm and very sticky. We rolled ice cream cones in the icing first as well. Then everything was covered with "sand," which was really graham crackers and brown sugar that I ground in the food processor. I used 2 boxes of graham crackers and about 1 cup of brown sugar. There was a lot of "sand" left over. The round layers on top were cupcakes from an all natural box mix that I didn't doctor. Those were removed and given to Price at cake cutting time for his smash cake.

He didn't smash it as much as he just gnawed on it, enjoying his first taste of sugar.

Overall, it was a wonderful success. The cake looked great and tasted great too. Don and my mom both said they were glad I made the cake myself instead of buying one and they both were also proud of how organized and stress-free I was during the whole baking/decorating process. Next up, a wedding cake- from scratch.....HAHAHAHAHAHA!


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