Sunday, January 08, 2012

Safari Cake

Yesterday was my nephew's 2nd Birthday Party! I hate how fast time flies...

I posted here that I was making jungle chocolate pretzel sticks and zebra print sugar cookies.

Well 1 out of 2 isn't so bad. 

First, I said I would show you how the jungle chocolate pretzels turned out so here they are:

Life: Designed
As you can see... not perfect. I failed to read the instructions...
The lion sticks all had a lot of air bubbles. Apparently, I didn't tap the tray to get rid of air bubbles...

Overall these were pretty easy to make! Not to mention VERY chocolatey. Just the way I like it! 

Now...Unfortunately I have no cookies to show you... but I have something better!

My sister had planned to order some sort of animal themed cake from a bakery but we couldn't find a decent place to make this sort of cake for a reasonable price. So...last minute, I set out to make one. 

I like to bake every now and then but I have never attempted a cake of this caliber..this was going to be fun!

I used Martha Stewart's recipe for the chocolate cake and this recipe for the icing. 

It was REALLY sweet. Almost too sweet. On the upside, the cake was moist and it looked pretty good!

Life: Designed
I was going to try using fondant- something completely foreign to me- for the zebra print but luckily I found zebra print sugar sheets at Michael's! What a life saver! 

I would probably use the chocolate cake recipe again. It was really easy and tasted good. However, I wasn't a fan of the icing. Maybe it's because I really only like cream cheese icing... 

Objectively speaking the icing was a little bit grainy- maybe I didn't stir it enough? 

And I used butter instead of shortening.. I'm really not sure what the difference is between the two of them... but maybe if I HAD used shortening, the icing would not have tasted so.... buttery. 

Another problem might have been that I didn't use enough icing sugar. The recipe called for 16oz of icing sugar which I thought was 2 cups. Turns out that conversion is only for liquids... I was supposed to use 4 cups of icing sugar! That just sounds wrong... but this is what I've been reading on various google searches so I guess it's true. 

On such short notice, I couldn't find suitable animal toppers and making them out of fondant was out of the question. As a last resort I was going to use my nephew's toy animals from their Noah's Ark Toy.. but they were quite large. 

The day before the party, I was at Michael's (I am SO happy there is a Michael's within walking distance of my house) and found mini animals! With my 40% off coupon in hand, I got a box of wild life animals for about $10. Not bad because I know the kids will like playing with the animals.

Life: Designed
This was the first time I used an icing tip and icing bag. So easy! At first, I couldn't find the icing bag I had bought so I improvised and used cellophane bags. Bad idea... Icing was squirting out from the sides and it was just a mess. So I gave up and searched for the bag. Thankfully I found it and it was pretty much smooth sailing from there. I just might take up baking as a hobby!

So... those trees... I'm reluctant to talk about those. After I had placed all the animals on the cake, it was looking like it was lacking something... trees! But how? With what? I had little pretzel sticks but how to make the leaves... 

I'm embarrassed to say I used paper, crayons and glue. Elmer's white glue. Yes.. that's right. Don't worry, everyone was forewarned and the glue never touched the cake.

For those of you wondering, the Martha Stewart recipe is generous. It allowed me to bake a 2 layer 9" cake (each layer was about 2"). On the other hand, the icing recipe came up a bit short. I ended up using every bit of the 2 batches I made.

The whole time I was praying that everything would turn out okay and thankfully it did!

Having said that.. no more cakes for me for a while...

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