Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Sailboat Cake

Jay and his birthday cake

This is my friend Jay. His birthday was on Sunday and I needed an excuse to make a cake. Jay has been very involved with the UW sailing club over the last couple of years so I wanted to make sailboat cake for him. I did some googling and then came up with this cake design. This was only my second attempt at using fondant - but I was much smarter this time around (read about my  first fondant experiment here). Coloring and rolling the fondant went much more smoothly this time and I was glad to have Ryan's help again.

Baking the cake was a bit of an experiment too. I used a yellow cake recipe from "Rose's Heavenly Cakes." This book strongly suggests weighing ingredients rather than measuring them. Each recipe provides both the measurements and the weights though. I baked two cakes for this sailboat cake (I only have one 10" pan). For the first cake, I carefully weighed each ingredient. By the time I made the second cake, I was over it; I haphazardly measured the ingredients and threw them together as I normally would. The batters came out very differently - the first one was much thinner. I was interested to see how the cakes would differ. I thought the first one was sure to come out better. To my surprise, almost everyone at the party said they preferred the second cake, the one I measured rather than weighed.

There are other variables that might have influenced which cake people preferred though. I think I slightly over-baked the first cake. That cake was also the bottom layer, so it sat under the weight of the second cake and all the frosting and fondant for three days before we ate it. It probably got a little compressed. In the end I'm not sure why the second cake came out better.

I guess I'm just not totally convinced the weighing thing is worth the extra time and effort. Since the combination of baking the cake/s, making the frosting, rolling the fondant, decorating, etc. takes so long anyway, I'm tempted to cut corners somewhere. I sort of feel like the bottom line is that cake is cake; you can't really go wrong when you're main ingredients are flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. Those are definitely not Rose's sentiments in the introduction to "Rose's Heavenly Cakes" though - according to her there is no comparison. She doesn't have to know what a lazy baker I am though!

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