Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Becca's Cake Bakery

It was a normal Friday night for most people -- except for me, Jeff, Vinny, Jody, and Adam. You see, we were all preparing for Vinny's birthday fiesta.

I planned to bake some gluten-free, egg-free cupcakes for my 365-day-old son, and a cake shaped like a sombrero for the guests at the party. I started with the cupcakes.

This is a picture of the ingredients I used to make the cupcakes. On the far right we have the gluten-free cake mix that I bought in Lexington at the Good Foods Coop. It called for 2 eggs, 1/2 c. oil, and 1 c. water. I looked on my favorite baby food website and found out that sunflower oil is one of the least allergenic cooking oils, so I bought some sunflower oil for this cake. Unfortunately, my mother is allergic to eggs, so I went with Ener-G egg replacer (also purchased at the Good Foods Coop) instead of real eggs.

If you ever wondered what egg replacer looked like when you mixed the powder with water, then this picture is for you! It gets kind of foamy. I've used egg replacer in a lot of baked goods, (such as my famous cranberry bread) and it results in a crunchier crust but otherwise the bread is just as tasty as it is when made with eggs. I was curious how the egg replacer would impact the gluten-free cake mix.

I mixed it all up in my mixer, and I was pretty surprised by how runny the batter was (as you can see in the picture). But actually, that made it fairly easy to fill the muffin cups. I ended up with a total of 21 cupcakes (good thing I have two muffin tins!).

The following two pictures are the before and after baking photos. I baked them at 350 F for about 15 minutes. They looked pretty nice -- a nice golden color, and a moist texture.

After I finished baking those cupcakes, I took a break and talked to my better half and Adam and Jody, who were busily preparing salsa.

Vinny was sitting in his high chair, waiting patiently for us to pay attention to him. (Okay, not actually waiting so patiently.) But soon Granny and Granddad arrived, and paid more attention to him than he had ever thought possible, so I think it worked out okay.

Then, it was time for me to start on the sombrero cake. I decided to try the buttermilk cake recipe from The Joy of Cooking. Here are my ingredients (not pictured: vanilla, baking powder, and other uninteresting ingredients):

(Sorry for the blur. I forgot to use the flash.) I tried cake flour to make the cake for my in-laws' anniversary party, and ever since then I have been sold on it when it comes to cake-baking. I used real butter for the cake, too.

Next I sifted my flour and other dry ingredients, before creaming the sugar and butter, beating the three eggs, and then mixing everything together into the cake batter.

After I got the batter all made, I put it into three different baking dishes (pre-sprayed with Pam Baking Spray -- that stuff works better than I can ever hope to do with greasing and flouring pans) to bake. The following image is big so that you can see what I did. I had a normal cake pan, which I used to make a thin layer that was the brim of the sombrero. (It's sitting on top of a big mixing bowl, in case you're wondering.) Then I have two Anchor-Hocking bowls, one medium-sized (1.5 qt), and one small (1 qt), that I would stack up to make the part of the sombrero that goes over your head. I'd say I put nearly equal amounts of batter in each bowl, with slightly more going into the medium-sized bowl.

I baked the three pieces in the oven at 350 F. I don't know how long I baked them, because I forgot to check the time when I put them in, so I had to just keep an eye on them. But I can tell you that the cake pan came out first, followed by the smaller bowl and finally the bigger bowl. Here are some pictures of them after they came out:

I waited a few hours for them to cool, and then, at about midnight, I began making the frosting. It's just your average powdered-sugar/butter/milk/vanilla frosting, from The Joy of Cooking once again!

I started off by frosting the top of the sombrero brim, in order to stick the hat part on top.

Then I put the first hat layer on it, frosted the top of that, and then added the top layer.

Then I frosted the whole thing using most of frosting, but luckily there was still some left over for what I wanted to do to decorate the cake.

I had some M&M's (plain and peanut), some star sprinkles, and some food coloring. I colored the top of the cake yellow, put a blue rim around the top, and a red rim around the brim of the sombrero. Then I decorated it with M&M's: peanut M&M's around the bottom of the brim (like pompoms), and plain M&M's on the hat itself.

Now for some pictures of the final result:

I was pleased by the result. I am not the world's best cake icer, but the decorations mostly hid my deficiencies. If I had it to do all over again, I'd buy some tubes of colored decorating frosting and use that for the colored ribbons instead.


Anne said...

good to know that you're an expert on egg replacer! i think it's great to have around so that you don't have to always go out and buy things.

laura and i are awaiting our own cupcake baking evening, too! we every ingredient but time.

Jane said...

Wow! I'm impressed! Can I hire you to make my birthday cake? :)

Flicka Mawa said...

Mmm, I love the post! I myself am very into cake baking and decorating - more decorating I think. One question is - you said after you bought cake flour once you decided to always use it - can you explain why? I've never baked with cake flour - in fact I use whole wheat flour instead of regular flour, because it makes me feel better to know that I'm not eating completely broken down, simple carbs. But I do know I'm sacrificing some taste by doing that.

I'm planning to make some specially decorated graveyard cupcakes for my halloween party next weekend; I'll be sure and post some pictures!

Rebecca said...

Anne, I can sympathize about the whole "lack of time" thing.

Jane, sure! But to make things easier, you'll have to move closer ;)

Flicka Mawa, nutritionally, cake flour is a bad idea, but for the sake of flavor and texture, it is ideal for cakes. It makes your cake fluffy and light, whereas a cake made with all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour will be denser. I'm of the philosophy that cake is dessert, so I rarely use whole wheat flour unless it's a type of cake that's meant to be denser (such as a carrot cake or applesauce cake).

I'm looking forward to seeing your Halloween graveyard cupcakes -- show us your decorating secrets!

Flicka Mawa said...

MMM, yes, I'm of the philosophy that cake is dessert too, hehe. Unfortunately, almost all of my flour use is in desserts, since I'm a baker much more than a cook. So I go with whole wheat flour to help me feel better about the enormous amounts of desserts I eat!
I'm trying to remember if I used whole wheat flour or just unbleached flour the last time I made red velvet cupcakes....I can't seem to remember, really.