The 3rd Birthday Cake – Foreign Contaminant

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Today, on my son’s Nameday, I’m reminded that 3 years ago I became a Dad.

You’d think after 3 years I’d get used to the title, but no, it still makes me step back and reflect. Makes me not only feel blessed, but it also makes me think, “holy crap, I’m someone’s Old Man.” It stings at first because I’m not short on things that make me feel old, but with his current admiration for Star Wars and Ninja Turtles, I think I can happily give myself a pat on the back for doing a good job so far. He may drive me nuts sometimes, but I couldn’t live without my young Padawan.

Speaking of Star Wars and Ninja Turtles, I wanted to do something with his cake. About 4 days ago I decided this and it kicked my “Eh, how hard can this be?” attitude into high gear. Why? Because my first thought was to make an R2-D2 cake. By now I hope you would know me as someone who doesn’t like to do things half ass, so I started thinking of elaborate ways to make a cake of everyone’s favorite astromech droid. And what better way to research than Pinterest?

Boy, that was a confidence killer.

After realizing there ain’t no way in hell I was going to have the time to put together the type of cake I wanted, I moved on, thinking maybe next year.

“What next… Ninja Turtles! What kind of Ninja Turtles cake can I make…?” To Pinterest I go!

The results weren’t too bad. Looking passed complicated ideas, I started to see basic shapes that I could have done. So after narrowing it down, I found one cake that I was going to go for…

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I had nothing but a picture from flickr. No tutorial, no details, nothing. I broke it down from looks alone and I knew from the beginning the fondant was going to be my problem. Looking at the cake itself, it was a simple round cake as the bottom with another round cake on top cut in the shape of the Turtle’s head. Looks like everything was wrapped in fondant as well as the bandanna being made of it. I was going to go with a piece of cardboard wrapped in fondant for the manhole cover. This was my first elaborate cake decorating so screw that “everything must be edible” rule.

I’ve said it before, I’m no cake decorator. I know if I practiced I could probably rock it, but I don’t have time to practice. My mom tells me all the time to get into it and is even going to send me some course books she has since she’s a cake decorating instructor for Wilton.

But those little facts don’t stop me from thinking I could make a freaking 3D Ninja Turtle cake with the only experience I have being those cake shows on TV.

So I give myself 3 days. I was going to start on Monday and maybe I won’t feel rushed. I could put time into it while Seb eats his meals and I’ll be alright.

Nope, Monday didn’t work out. Family came into town so I didn’t even think about starting this monster. Ok, 2 days, I can do this. No experience.. yeah, so? Never made fondant before? Pfft, details, shmetails. I got this.

EH! Wrong again. I choked under the pressure. I let the clock stress me out. I got as far as making a surprisingly good marshmallow fondant for my first time, but when the food coloring wasn’t turning it the color I wanted after a half hour of kneading the crap out of it, I knew I wasn’t going to 1) finish this without confining the kid to his highchair for hours and 2) have enough fondant for what I wanted to do. Psyching myself out gave me no ambition for making more fondant, I just wanted to quit and buy him a cake.

But, I had to do something. I couldn’t quit altogether. So I thought and thought and it hit me. I don’t know why it didn’t hit me before since he was already in his 3rd back-to-back replay of watching the damn movie. It’s obvious he likes it, so why not make it his cake?

So WALL-E it was. An simple idea and design instantly came to mind where I would use leftover brownies from when my family visited and next thing I knew I was already making the cake.

I decided to go with Smitten Kitchen’s Best Birthday Cake because I wanted something other than a chocolate cake which I always seem to make for everything. I did keep chocolate buttercream though, which I got from Savory Sweet Life. It was the first time I made SK’s cake, which I resourcefully adapted since I had no cake flour or buttermilk. The result was pretty good and almost exactly what I was expecting. And I must say, I’ve made SSL’s chocolate buttercream more than once. Good stuff there.

I said I resourcefully adapted the cake flour and buttermilk. If you didn’t know:

Thanks to Joy the Baker, I found out to make cake flour out of all-purpose flour, all you had to do was add 2 tablespoons of corn starch to every 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Sift together and incorporate well. If you are putting it straight into the recipe, remove 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour from the cup before you add the 2 tablespoons of corn starch. That way, things aren’t thrown off. Don’t blame me, blame science. If you’re making cake flour to just make cake flour, don’t worry about that. Just worry about the issues you obviously have since you’re making cake flour just for fun.

If you don’t have buttermilk, take a cup of milk, preferably room temperature, and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to it. Vinegar works too, but I prefer lemon juice. Let it stand for about 5 minutes and you’ll have yourself some ghetto buttermilk. If the milk is cold it takes longer for the process to work. In case you’ve already made yourself a supply of cake flour and want to dip your hands into another hobby.

Cake was done, buttercream creamed, I saw my vision and I went for it. A few cuts here and some brownie shaping there and boom! I had one trashy looking cake!

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I was going for trashy so it was good. The cake is supposed to be one of his trash mountains that he put up, which explains the squares in the buttercream and the ramp leading to the top. The cocoa powder spilled everywhere was the dirt, random trash and debris was chopped chocolate and random cake/brownie crumbs, and the cubes of trash were also cake and brownies shaped so.

sebs cake

The only reason why I went for a WALL-E cake was because a few months ago I ordered that WALL-E toy from ebay for the purpose of being his birthday gift. I love helping him build his little toy collection, and I knew this would instantly be one of his favorites. I thought it would be awesome to see WALL-E sitting on top of a cake as if he helped put it together. And Seb’s look when he saw the cake was great. I know it was only because he wanted that toy and he couldn’t care less about the cake itself, but still it was great. My wife would’ve came home with a supermarket cake if I didn’t have that WALL-E toy.

The toy itself, I must say, is exactly what you would think a discontinued toy shipped from China would be. It came new in a box but the tape that held the box shut led me to believe something was fishy. Then the wheels not turning and the loose parts coupled with Seb breaking poor WALL-E’s arm off after 5 minutes of use all added up to a simple conclusion: If it is discontinued, costs $10, and ships from China, don’t have high hopes for it.

Still a great toy though. And even though his arm that I put back will never be the same, I know Seb loves it and that’s what counts.

sebs cake 3

Happy Birthday, son.

 

12 Comments

    1. Thanks for the suggestions. I really really want to give that Turtle cake a try in the future. And with more planning I’m definitely going to aim for making the entire thing edible.

      Thanks for checking it out!

      1. montuos

        The best part about using marchpane or shortbread for the manhole cover is that you can make it well in advance; one less thing to fret over on the day of.

        I’m also wondering now — did you see where the caption said those were mini cakes? — whether it would be worth trying to make all four turtles… (Yeah, that cake captured my imagination too, but my kid’s all grown up now!)

        1. I’m all for doing things in advance!

          And yes, I noticed the mini cake caption, but it looks like it can be a decent sized cake. Now that you mention it though, I wonder how “mini” it actually was…

          So what! Make it anyway, grown up kid or not!

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