Friday, May 21, 2010

Graduation Cake

So here's my latest attempt at baking a cake. I made it for my sister's graduation from college and it is my first time ever working with fondant. It is, admittedly, not perfect, but it's not a complete disaster either. The stars are courtesy of my brother's help and they look pretty good, I think. I got the recipes online and here they are:

Classic White Cake
6 cups cake flour, sifted
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3 cups sugar
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 egg whites

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray the sides and bottom of two 9-inch cake pans with PAM or similar non-stick spray.

Sift the flour and baking powder together and set it aside. Then cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and set aside. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry and set this aside as well. Then, with the mixer on slow speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternately with the milk. Beat well after each addition to thoroughly incorporate it. Next, beat in the vanilla and then gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Pour half of the batter in each pan and bake it until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

NOTE: This recipe comes from the Wilton website ( which has lots of good information on making cakes and makes a lot of different cake decorating supplies. I can't remember exactly how long the cakes were in the oven and the recipe doesn't specify but I think it might have been around 20 minutes. Once the cakes are out of the oven, let them cool for just a couple of minutes and then take them out of the pans and wrap them in plastic wrap or a sealed plastic bag. (I got that tip from some other website about making cakes, and it's supposed to keep the moisture in the cakes and prevent them from becoming dry. I've used this idea a couple of times now and it has turned out well so far.)

Buttercream Icing

1 pound bag of powdered sugar

1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 sticks of butter cut into 1/2 inch slices

1/2 cup shortening

Whisk the sugar, salt, vanilla, and milk at a low speed until smooth. Add the butter, one slice at a time until incorporated, and then add the shortening and whip at the highest speed for 10-12 minutes, until the volume increases by at least 50%.

NOTE: I found this recipe on this website: which has a lot of great recipes of buttercream and fillings, and the recipe turned out really well. This recipe was approximately enough to frost a three layer 9-inch cake, depending on how much frosting you like to use.

A note on fondant: I must say that it looks good, but I wasn't overly fond of the taste. Perhaps it is because I was working in my sisters kitchen, with her rolling pin, and it is a less than ideal situation for a baker as she does more cooking than baking, and could not seem to get the fondant to roll out as thin as I would have liked, thus resulting in a thicker than ideal layer of fondant. Or perhaps I just don't like the taste of fondant. Or maybe it was both the thickness and the taste, but I have decided that I will concentrate for the time being on buttercream rather than fondant as the finish for my cakes.

Both of these recipes were really good - the cake didn't turn out dry like some of the previous recipes I've tried and the buttercream didn't give me any problems, so I'd use both of these recipes again, and probably will at some point but I'm a bit junk fooded out at the moment, having just finished a road trip to Idaho during which I ate a shameful amount of cake, restaurant food, and Oreo cookies. Additionally, my mom has ordered a moratorium on all baking activity for the time being, and as I have a bridesmaid dress to fit into in August, I am forced to comply. I have a distressingly weak willpower when it comes to avoiding sugar and carbs so just how successful my diet will be remains to be seen.

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