Thursday, September 02, 2010

Million Dollar Cake

Back in January, a conversation with one of my groups of girlfriends produced the Round Cake 2010 Challenge. It's pretty simple, really. We realized that most of us had never attempted to bake, assemble, and decorate a round layer cake. And so we challenged each other make at least one attempt during the year. Well, today I finally made my second attempt. I learned some things from my first attempt back in March. I've also learned some cake-related tips and tricks since then by watching a lot of Food Network this summer (which I will share below - lucky you!).

The delightful occasion for today's cake is having my friends Tom & Lisa over for dinner. Tom and Lisa have known me since I was a shy, awkward, and very tall junior higher in FBC's youth group, the Wave. The year I entered high school they were appointed to full-time missionary service in Africa, first in Ivory Coast, and now in Mali. I am eager to catch up with them and hear their stories. I work with a lot of missionaries in the course of my job, but it's special when those missionaries are also friends.

But without further ado, on to the cake! I wanted to do something a little more involved this time than "box of cake mix + canister of frosting," so I decided to make a Million Dollar Cake (found on allrecipes.com). The frosting, while deliciously light and fruity, was a little goopy in consistency, which was fine until it came time to frost the sides of the cake. I made quite a mess. I am not sure how successful the transfer from pizza pan to pretty cake stand will be. I have a feeling another mess will be involved, especially when it comes time to cut the cake. But, for the sake of my pretty cake stand (which was a gift from Travis' Aunt Cindy, and when not employed to display cakes, hangs out on the dresser in my bedroom as a way to corral my various lotions in a decorative manner) I am going to make the attempt anyway. Stand by - I will update this post tomorrow with (hopefully) an attractive "after" photo!

A few photos from the process: 

Since this was only my second time making a round layer cake, I decided I'd give the "one box of mix : two 9 inch cake pans" ratio one more try, since the box says you can. I should not have bothered. As last time, the two cake layers came out pathetically short. Even more than last time, they were also a rather comic reminder of how NOT level the lines are in this apartment, the kitchen floor being no exception.
After seeing the results of round one, I decided to do what I should have done in the first place, and bake an entire box of cake mix in one 9" pan. Much better. I also made sure to rotate the pan about 10 minutes into baking, before the cake had really started to set, to compensate for the floor.
To level off the tops of the cakes I used Trick #1: Dental floss. Like cutting clay with a piece of string. Except cake. With floss. Worked like a charm. Then I employed Trick #2: Brush each layer with liquid (in this case, some of the juice drained from the fruit) to make the cake nice and moist. I think I learned that one from an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Mostly, I was excited to use my pastry brush.
Half-way through assembly:
When all the layers were in place, it was clear the layers were far from even, and that the bottom two were slightly smaller in circumference. Oh well. That's why you cover the whole thing in frosting, right?
The cake is currently sitting in the fridge, fully frosted, awaiting our the arrival of our dinner guests and the moment of truth.

UPDATE!
The transfer from pizza pan to cake stand went more smoothly than anticipated. Here's the finished product, along with my friends Tom & Lisa, who enjoyed the cake very much. We all did.
However, even after serving cake to 5 people, and sending a sizable portion home with them, we still have half a cake in our fridge! And so there will be dessert tonight when we get home from our date...and perhaps breakfast tomorrow morning before we leave for Michigan. Because as Travis pointed out this morning as we ate cereal instead of cake..."but there's fruit in there, and some eggs...those are breakfast foods, right?"

And finally, because cake + cake stand was too tall to fit in the fridge, the cake went back on the pizza pan and the stand back to its regular duty in my bedroom.

4 comments:

Bonnie said...

This is great, Suz! This was a lot of work so I hope your guests and hub appreciate it. I am now thankful for my straight kitchen floor! :)

wren said...

Okay. So, it's just cruel to post a picture of cake without letting me taste it. It looks good even though the layers aren't even. Looks delicious!

TirzahJean said...

Great job!!! And how fun that you got to see Tom & Lisa!

Kristin said...

Your cake looks great Suz! Just like it came from a bakery! - Oh, and I missed your last post until today (haven't had much blog-reading time this week). So proud of you for doing something that's scary! I love that quote so inspirational. I take it you lived through the yoga experience...will you do it again? You know it's never as scary the second time around! Hope you're having a wonderful holiday weekend so far!