Friday, April 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Spuss!

Yes, the loud, little, ball of black angst is 23 years old! Spuss doesn't give a rat's ass about cake (I am not that crazy... probably not anyway...), but I figured it would be a good idea to thank everyone at Metrowest Vets, especially Dr. Suzy, who goes well above and beyond the call of duty with the time she devotes to all my hypochondriac-ish questions on behalf of the Spussmonster.

Also, thank you to Dr. Grace for the years of cat care in Stoughton. Among other fine feats of veterinarianism, she performed a couple of tumor-removal surgeries, which went very well. The little Spuss would certainly not be here without Dr. Grace.

But this is a cake blog, not so much a cat blog...
Sadly, this cake was not so great, so I think I'll do the cookie thing as a better thank you.

Too much booze, fondant was too thick, etc. However, the timing thing works incredibly well if I assemble the cake the day before I decorate it. (Go figure.) Get the crumb coat all solidified, then everything's good to go for buttercream glue layer and fondant! And then if the fondant isn't so thick and heavy that it compresses the entire top layer, the cake has a fighting chance of being decent. Remains went to my hapless co-workers as usual.

Details of the cake:
One batch All-Occasion Downy Yellow Cake from The Cake Bible, two 9" round by about 1.5" tall layers.

Syruped both untorted layers with 3/4+ cup: mostly Vanilla Liqueur, with Buttershots, and clear vanilla extract.

Used Magi-Cake strips (the Wilton knock-off ones). But for an unknown reason, the cakes rose unevenly. Both had a slight slope off to one side that I didn't notice until after I took them out of the oven, so I didn't see their orientation in the oven.

Torted 2 layers into 4 layers.

Total height: about 4".

Used 1 1/2 batches of Creamy Milk Chocolate Frosting from Baking Illustrated between the 1st and 2nd layers, and between the 3rd and 4th layers.

Used 1/2 batch of Peggy Weaver's (American) Buttercream I recipe, and added a few tablespoons of raspberry jam. Turned the thing yet another horrid shade of pink. Blech. But tasty. Placed the buttercream between the 2nd and 3rd layers, used for crumb coat, and used for fondant glue.

Fondant painted and dyed (yes, it's slightly purple-ish, but way too pale, as it turned out) with Wilton's gel colors.

Fondant made 3 days before decorating.
Yellow cake made 4 days before serving. Syruped when cool, prior to storage. Stored in 'fridge.
Cake layers torted and assembled 2 days before serving.
Cake decorated about 24 hours before serving.

Bottom line:
Syruping + thin torting (a few days later) = bad idea.
Better to under-syrup (booze) the cake, than over do it. The cake was still sort of crumbly, all the outside surfaces were gooey from the booze, but after they're torted, the layers just couldn't hold together. So I broke every single layer as I assembled the cake. Evening off the outside edges after I stacked the layers was a messy, difficult chore. And I wasted a lot of cake because it crumbled apart. Forgot to try bringing down flour or sugar amount in Yellow Cake by a tablespoon or two. Still have to balance the syruping thing. For the L5R cake, it was about 2/3 cup per 9x13" layer. For this cake it was 3/4 cup per 9" round, so it came out to about 1.5 cups for the whole cake. I think it was too much for structure and taste. No more than 1 cup per batch of this Yellow Cake.

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