Rainbow Doodle Birthday Cake

Rainbow Doodle Cake via Sweetapolita

I hope you had a wonderful weekend filled with feasting, family, and friends. I know we certainly did! We celebrated Easter as well as our little Reese’s 4th birthday. On Saturday we went to “The County,” where Grant grew up, to visit his dad (Grandpa), step-mom Kathy (Grammy), and family at the farm. It’s such a neat situation, because it’s the house Grant grew up in, which is on the same property as his grandfather’s (Poppy) farmhouse, so when we go with the kids, there’s so much for them to see and do. With Easter and Reese’s birthday falling on the same weekend this year (a rare occurrence), we decided it would be fun to celebrate in The County on Saturday. When Reese and I were talking about birthday cake ideas, we thought it would be the perfect time to make the brilliant Rainbow Cake.

When Reese first saw the Rainbow Cake on Whisk Kid’s blog, she fell in love with it, and rightfully so–this cake is a kid’s dream come true with its 6 vibrant rainbow-coloured layers and tons of buttercream! Kaitlin’s blog is filled with scrumptious cakes and treats, photos, and helpful baking hints, and if you haven’t yet, you really must check it out! As a cake girl myself, I have to tell you that I think her rainbow cake invention was likely the most genius layer cake design in the history of cake. She’s pretty amazing herself–a 20 year old sophomore at Michigan State University who happens to be a super-bright, passionate and talented baker/blogger, and more. If you don’t believe me, ask Martha Stewart who had Kaitlin herself on the show to demonstrate the making of the Rainbow Cake!

Rainbow Doodle Cake via Sweetapolita

I told Kaitlin that I think the fact that she left her buttercream Rainbow Cake white on the outside was complete brilliance and perfectly executed. I was tempted to do that as well, but I thought it would be so fun to let Reese design the outside of her own cake, so I covered the buttercream Rainbow Cake with some white fondant, chilled it overnight, and then handed her a pack of AmeriColor Food Colour Markers (below)–again, a dream come true for an artsy and infinitely creative kid like her. I ordered these pens awhile back, and promised her that someday soon she could colour on her own cake. She was so excited that she even sketched out some ideas on paper with regular markers, so that she was ready and prepared (this is so my child). First thing she did was write her first name, then her full name, then a number 4. Then she thought about it, and just did whatever she wanted until the cake was filled with doodles. My personal favourite is the rainbow and the big yellow sun. Wouldn’t it be cute to make matching sugar cookies covered in white fondant, and let the kids decorate their own cookies at a birthday party? Or even writing guests’ names on fancy cookies as place cards. So much fun!

Rainbow Doodle Cake via Sweetapolita

What I absolutely love about this cake is the element of surprise and the wow-factor, when the first piece is cut and served. There was literally some audible gasps at the table when they saw the rainbow inside, and the kid inside of me couldn’t be more in love with rainbow layers (was a tween in the 80s, what can I say). The cake is made by dividing and colouring vanilla cake batter using gel colours (I used the recipe below, but any vanilla butter cake would work well) and baking in separate pans for 15 minutes each. The process was really a fun change for me and Reese helped colour all of the bowls of batter. This piece with “Alyea” on it makes me smile; I suppose that’s one way to claim your piece! I think I may start doing that around here. The cake itself was so delicious, and I just adore Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream, so that was the perfect addition to the vanilla cake and vanilla fondant. So decadent with all of that gorgeous buttercream!

Here’s our little birthday girl full of love, laughter, and life . . .

Just sitting around being cute and, well, four. It’s hard to believe that she’s four, actually. Sounds cliche, but it’s so true. When she was a baby, I used to sing “Turn Around” to her on a regular basis after hearing Grant’s stepmom sing it to her–every single time I sang that to her I would be crying before even the end of verse 1:

Where are you going my little one, little one
Where are you going my baby, my own
Turn around and you’re two
Turn around and you’re four
Turn around and you’re a young girl
Going out of the door

Okay, it seems that even writing about it makes me cry, but that’s exactly what happened: I turned around she was two, and then I turned around and she was four. Here’s my favourite photo of her when she was two:

 

My favourite of Reese’s modeling gigs–definitely a particularly proud mommy moment (sorry if that’s a total mommy brag)! Well, on second thought, I won’t complain that she’s four, because as the next verse of that song reminds me, I’ll turn around and she’ll be having “babes of her own.” I’ll take four and enjoy every minute of it.

Sweetapolita

An unexpected birthday highlight at the farm was driving Grandpa’s tractor for the first time. Apparently, she’s quite the driver!

After those tractor-driving lessons from Grandpa, she was ready to drive cousin Lucas’ Jeep, and did she ever.

Then it was time to hitch a ride with cousin Piper; now if only the closest Starbucks wasn’t 30 miles away . . .

Have a wonderful week! We were lucky enough to have another fun birthday dinner for Reese with Grant’s mom (Nanny) and sister, Mary, here at our house last night, and we’re about to have yet another tonight, since it’s her actual birthday today . . . a birthday Mardi Gras of sorts!

Here’s the recipe for the Rainbow Cake followed by my how-to for the Doodle Cake version:

Rainbow Doodle Birthday Cake         {click here for printable recipe}

Rainbow Cake via Whisk Kid

White Cake (but not really)

2 sticks (226 g) butter, room temp
2 1/3 c (466 g) sugar
5 egg whites, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 c (375 g) all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/2 c (355 g) milk, warmed for 30 sec in microwave to bring to room temp
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple GEL food coloring. Liquid will not be vibrant enough!

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Oil and line how ever many 9” cake pans you have (I have three and I just reused them).

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter, then add the egg whites (I cracked them all into one bowl) and add them a little at a time. Add the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Then, alternating between wet and dry, add the milk and flour mixture in two parts.

Divide the batter amongst 6 bowls (I did it by weight. Weigh your mixing bowl before you begin adding ingredients and then subtract the weight of the bowl from the final measurement after the batter is completed. Divide that number by six and add that weight of batter to each bowl), and then whisk a fair amount of the appropriate food color into each bowl. Keep in mind that the color of the unbaked batter will be the color of the baked batter. Pour into the pans and bake for 15 minutes each.

When you remove them from the oven, let them rest on the cooling rack, in the pan, for ten minutes. Then flip, cover, and stash them in the fridge to cool quickly.

Lemony Swiss Meringue Buttercream

To fill and crumb coat:
9 egg whites
1 ¾ c (350 g) sugar
4 sticks (454 g) of butter, room temp
2 tsp lemon extract

To frost:
5 egg whites
1 c (200 g) sugar
2 sticks (227 g) butter, room temp
1 tsp lemon extract

Cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it’s completely smooth, it’s done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer back to high speed and whip until it has come together, about five minutes. Add the extract, beat briefly and then use.

If the buttercream seems soupy after all of the butter is added and does not come together after whipping, refrigerate for 5 to 7 minutes and continue whipping until it becomes fluffy and workable.

Assembly
Stack the layers in your preferred order and fill and frost as you would any other cake.

Sweetapolita’s Notes & Doodle Cake How-To:

1. For tips & tricks on making Swiss Meringue Buttercream, both Kaitlin & I have posts about this, so lots of info!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Demystified and How to Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • You may find my previous post 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes helpful with this cake (and hopefully others).
  • I was worried at first that I somehow made the layers too thin, but they were perfect, so don’t panic when they seem almost pancake-like! Once you pile 6 of those layers and all of that buttercream, the cake is a perfect height. Mine was about 4.5″ high. Use a 9-inch,  1/4″ thick cake board when building the cake.
  • To make the doodle cake, cover the buttercream cake in white fondant and refrigerate overnight. You will need approximately 2 lbs, 3 oz of fondant for a 9″ round 5″ high cake. Remove cake from refrigerator and let child (or anyone!) colour all over cake using AmeriColor Food Colour Markers (below). Place cake back in refrigerator every 15 minutes or so, if it begins to soften before child is finished (otherwise you will get dents in the cake). It’s also fun to have everyone at a birthday party sign the cake, write a message, draw a picture, etc!
  • You can store finished cake in refrigerator, but serve at room temperature or buttercream won’t be soft enough and the flavours won’t come through as intended. I typically take this type of fondant-covered cake out of refrigerator about 6 hours before serving. Just a note the cake will dent very easily when ready to serve,  so avoid touching the cake itself.
  • As another kids craft cake alternative, you may like Paintable Chocolate Peanut Butter & Jelly Cakes.

You can find the AmeriColor Food Colour Markers here:

*A note about the rainbow cake colours: I used AmeriColor electric gel colours to get such vibrant hues in the cake while adding minimal colouring. Here are the colours I used and links to find them:

Electric Purple AmeriColor Gel Colour – Electric Purple – 4 oz
Electric Blue AmeriColor Gel Colour – Electric Blue – 4 oz
Electric Green AmeriColor Gel Colour – Electric Green – oz
Electric Yellow AmeriColor Gel Colour – Electric Yellow – 4 oz
Electric Orange AmeriColor Gel Colour – Electric Orange – 4 oz
Super Red AmeriColor Gel Colour – Super Red – 4 oz

Good luck & enjoy!



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Couture Cake Class with The Caketress

Happy November (almost)! Since discovering the gorgeous work of Lori Hutchinson (The Caketress), I’ve been fascinated with the concept of  “couture cakes,” which means using couture gowns as inspiration for cake design. When I saw that she was teaching a course on Haute Couture Cakes at Bonnie Gordon School in Toronto, where I have taken all of my previous cake courses, I signed up right away. Although there are, and have been, other cake designers who incorporate couture-type details into their cakes, it seems that The Caketress has become synonymous with this type of design, and I’m sure no one would argue that she owns this style. So much so, that students travel from all over the world, literally, to take instruction from her. Lucky me lives only45 minutes away!

Lori, The Caketress, and she was so inspiring and helpful. The vibe in this class was highly creative-yet-casual, and I felt that made it really easy to open up, ask any question whatsoever, and just have fun. I’m speaking from my perspective, but I would bet the other girls would agree. For such an accomplished artist, Lori is so warm and down-to-earth. I have so much respect for her and her work. Here are some of the highlights from my time in class:

On Saturday morning we pretty much dove right into learning and watching Lori demonstrate some of her favourite techniques (above), including several types of pleating, ruffling, draping, and more. Although we each brought our sketched cake designs based on couture gown inspiration, we tweaked and altered our cake designs after learning some new techniques. Now it was time to start working on our cakes…

This is Kate, and she came in from London, Ontario for the class. Here she is working on one of her wedding cake designs–let me say, this girl does beautiful work and is super speedy. She completed two cakes to our one, well, actually, everyone else’s one and my half of one, but we’ll get to that . . .

  

And…voila! I’m not sure I was even done drinking my morning coffee when I turned around and Kate has whipped this up: a gorgeous pleated 3-tier wedding cake. I love the pearl medallion she created and added as a final design detail. Go Kate!

   

This is the cake Kate created on the first day of class, perfectly pearled and ruffled. Gorgeous.

This couture wedding cake is Alice’s creation. Alice sat beside me for the two days, and it was so great chatting with her. Alice recently finished schooling at Le Cordon Bleu in California, and she flew in from L.A. for this class. She really incorporated so many of the techniques we were taught into this elegant cake.

Here’s a side-view Rafia’s feminine ruffle cake. I personally really loved the little touch-of-Tiffany she added with the robin’s-egg-blue rosette and cake board. The hints of gold with the use of the dragees placed whimsically on the top tier really create such interest. I haven’t known Rafia long, but I can tell you this cake is so her! She’s lovely and feminine, and was so sweet to chat with.

This is Sujin. She traveled all the way from Korea for this and two other classes at the school that week. She had a translator and friend, Esther (who was so friendly and entertaining, I might add), accompany her for the first day to assist with language, but I have a feeling that Sujin’s instincts, undivided attention to Lori’s technique demonstrations, and her quiet intensity during class served her perfectly well.

 

Here is Sujin’s completed wedding cake. She used a Korean couture bridal gown as inspiration, which really makes this cake stand out to me. She’s clearly an amazing artist, and although we weren’t able to really talk to each other, it was easy to see she’s also such a wonderful person. Who knows, maybe she’ll come back from Korea to Bonnie Gordon School again. It was great to meet her.

Well, we’ve established that all of my classmates designed and created amazing cakes by the end of the 2-day course. Thing is, I actually ran out of time and didn’t complete my cake during class, but after returning home I revamped my cake and completed it (finally!) closer to my original design. I think I may have designed something a wee bit too time-consuming for the weekend course, but that’s okay. I spent some time changing what I did and was able to really focus on figuring out how to achieve what I wanted. I based my cake design on a gown by my favourite designer (and my wedding dress designer too!), Monique Lhuillier.  Oh, if I could have a wedding do-over, this would be the dress! Here’s a quick shot of what I went into class with:

 

I did this sketch based on the photo of the dress–an amazing pleated, ruched, rosetted ball gown.  As you can see in the group shot above, I ended up only having time for a few of the roses and then I did a light pink draped detail on the top tier. The reason I changed it afterwards, is because I really wanted to challenge myself with a more structured-style pleating and layering on the top tier, just as my sketch suggests.

Here’s a photo of my cake in progress…

 

And here’s my finished cake. I ended up putting my time into layering varying size fabric-inspired rosettes around the cake and creating a ruffled wrap for interest and more structure. It’s a slight departure from my initial sketch, but I find that happens sometimes, and the design can just take its own shape as I go along. The best cakes can happen this way!

Here’s a detail shot of the ruffled fabric-like brooch detail and the pleating I did on the top tier, inspired by the bodice of the gown. This cake was definitely a change from my typical style, but couture cake techniques are so inspiring, and I learned a lot.

Working with Lori, and the whole gang in this class, was so much fun. I look so forward to using the couture techniques on future designs–the possibilities are endless!

Thanks so much for stopping by. xo

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When an Asparagus Cake Just Makes Good Sense

*May 2011 update: I have just recently recreated this cake in an 8-layer version! You can view it here: For the Love of Fondant Asparagus (and 8-Layer Cakes).

NEW! How to Make a Fondant Asparagus Cake {a Tutorial}

Funny thing happened on the way to designing my sister-in-law, Mary’s cake for her post-figure-competition celebration: my pink and frilly cake idea got hijacked by this sudden idea that I had to create a hyperrealistic vegetable confection. It was an “Aha!” moment, and I knew right then and there that there was no turning back. Thing is, while training for the IDFA competition, she was so disciplined, so regimented, and so ridiculously sick of eating asparagus. The week before her show, during a text conversation we were having, in response to “How are you doing?” she replied, “I’m loathing asparagus!” So, like any self-respecting sister-in-law and friend would do, I decided to to torment her with a green and spear-filled asparagus cake. See, there’s something you should know: Mary is a foodie, and like me, lives for dessert. This makes her pre-show determination and diet that much more torturous remarkable.

Mary and I talked about the post-show celebration for the weeks leading up to it, and what she really wanted to eat–the girl deserved to eat whatever she wanted, and I was determined to make that happen for her. As for dessert, she knew she wanted rich chocolate cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream and fondant, so that was the starting point. Once I had the cake baked, filled, and coated, I covered it in a nice bright leafy green fondant. I then started on the asparagus. Working from a real bundle of asparagus for reference, I rolled out about 150 full-size green fondant spears, a dozen at a time, snipped them to look as realistic as possible, and then let them dry. I also dyed, rolled out, trimmed, and snipped  about 400 asaparagus tips and set them aside to dry. Once they were dry, I dusted them with several shades of green edible dusting powder (that I typically use for dusting sugar flowers and leaves), and small touches of red. Once they were all dusted and looking particularly asparagus-ish, I started to assemble it all. I wasn’t sure how it was all going to come together, but I loved making this cake, and, in the end, I was kind of proud of it!

I’m not sure, but when Mary first saw her cake, I think she may have wondered if they were actually real asparagus. Sure, we were all eager to try (especially my little Reese) a big yummy piece of the cake, but I think, even more so, we were so excited to watch Mary eat hers!

Yay–cake consumption! Reese was so proud to be taking the first bites with Auntie Mary. And, yep, that is a trophy you see–turns out that all of that hard work and discipline pays off! I have to say, Mary’s victory just made the cake that much sweeter, for all of us. Now that she’s competing in the Canadian Natural Physique Championships in April, I think I better kick it up a notch for the next post-show confection…a 3-tier version, perhaps?

Thanks for stopping by! xo

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