Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Handy Manny Birthday Cake

Not to toot my own horn, but I am good at baking, I can make things that are fattening and tasty and typically make them look good but I’m more of a fly by the seat of my pants person than I am a precise measurement person, when it comes to the kitchen at least. That being said I agreed to make a cake for one of my nephews (ok, they are adopted nephews…no Adam and April do not have kids yet they have my niece pups, niece and nephew foals, etc. but no human children) for his 2nd birthday. The theme was Handy Manny and I know this will shock everyone but I had no idea who Manny was which required some investigation and then Mary (mother of my nephew Grant) sent me pictures that were 3 dimensional cakes…gulp. Ok so Manny needs to upgrade his tool box because it is very old school, which is where I started to freak. But I learned some things throughout the course of this process which I will share with you now:
  1. Cake, as I mentioned previously is important but when you are making a character cake or a three-dimensional cake you should get something that is NOT Super Moist or Extra Moist or has any type of pudding in it, you need something that will hold up when stacked.
  2. If using a cake board, cover it with the opposite side of tin foil so it is easy to clean up smudges of icing. It also is a nice finish for pictures.
  3. DO not, I repeat DO not use marshmallow fluff as filler between cake layers. Often I will add marshmallow fluff to the center of cupcakes, cupcakes good (tastes like a Hostess Cupcake), cake layers bad. My cake oozed marshmallow fluff for about 3 hours and as I was icing the cake it continued to prevent some problems. Stick to icing or jams. Now I will say that marshmallow fluff is a great to moisten a dry cake…if you over baked the cake and have some time before you have to ice it spread a thin layer on the cake and let it set and it will moisten the cake right up.
  4. Use a portable fan to help dry the outside of the cake, speed icing drying time and help things stick together.
  5. Using melting chocolates (like for chocolate molds, they come in many colors and are in easy-to-melt chips from any craft store with a cake area) to create designs and dimensions. Take a piece of waxed paper and draw your design or outline of your design, then flip the paper over, melt chocolates in a resealable zip lock bag…do this very slowly as to not burn a hole in the zip lock bag, let the bag cool for 20 seconds, snip a hole in the corner and use as a piping bag over the top of your design. If you have a large area to fill then use a icing knife to fill in the holes. Once dry peel off the paper and add to the front or stick directly on your cake. Photo shows all you need!
  6. When needing a structure piece, like the ends of my cake, Gingerbread is a great to make an edible option that is easy to roll out, cut and bake. Icing it is a different story; if you are into fondant then go with that for a smooth finish, I’m not into fondant so it just looks a little rough. If you aren’t into making gingerbread then just use cardboard and ice it, no one will know the difference. I made a template out of cardboard or you can print templates off the internet.
  7. Do NOT, do NOT agree to do a cake with pure red frosting. Red is the hardest color to create. If you can find pre-canned frosting that is dyed red buy stock in it. Make sure that you use the no-taste red gel dye from Wilton; it is the ONLY kind I’ve found that won’t leave a nasty taste in your mouth. I also purchased red icing spray (it can be found at Michaels is in the far left side of the photo) and sprayed down the cake to make sure that poor Grant didn’t have a bright pink cake for his 2nd birthday.

You will see the photos…not perfect, but perfect enough for a 2 year old. The addition of the tools from the tool box, I have to admit it was pretty cute. Good luck if you attempt this cake, it took me about 3 days total due to drying time. Day 1: Bake cake and make gingerbread, Day 2: Ice with crumb coat, let dry completely and apply final icing layer, add embellishments, Day 3: Party time!

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