Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How to make a cake for Betsy

I always make sourdough chocolate cake for birthdays. Ever since my daughter, Betsy, was four years old she has provided me with sketches of her vision of the perfect birthday cake. Many of her drawings are really detailed (schematics, arrows, exploded views!), calling out exact ice cream flavors, color schemes, themes, and ornamentation. I think she may eventually end up as an architect or fashion designer or food stylist or someones' boss. These cakes always have several graduated tiers of cake, generally alternating with various flavors of ice cream, and decorated with piped frosting and candied flowers. Sometimes we go to the Decorette Shop and choose from their outrageous selection of flowers, animals, stars, and other shapes made of colored sugar. They have every color of icing dye. And every kind of sparkly glitter.
Because this year we were driving to Manzanita (more on wonderful Manzanita soon) to celebrate her birthday, the ice cream layers were not practical and, because I was short on time, the decoration needed to be simplified.

Here are some photos of the cake in progress:

Creaming butter and sugar (then add eggs, stir in melted chocolate)

Adding sourdough mixture to chocolate/butter mixture
I always line cake pans with buttered and floured parchment paper. I hate it when cake sticks.
You have to make two or three recipes to get enough cake for seven layers like this one. You'll have enough left over for another, more abstract cake. Or make parfaits!
Here is the cake with its 'crumb coat', a thin layer of frosting that precedes the final coat. Its purpose is just what you might think; to keep the crumbs out of the final frosting layer. I like to use ganache for cake frosting.
Viola! I put it in a box, popped it in the trunk, and went to the beach. I put some paper elephant flags and seventeen candles on it later that night. We bought banana split and peanut butter & chocolate ice cream to go with it, but that was only because I didn't go to the store with the kids. I would have gotten vanilla bean and coffee. Definitely.

Look at the adorable knit acorn I found on etsy:

Only $6! I can't stand it!
She makes bags, and pins, and spins her own yarn and sells it too. You should probably go look at the hedgehog puppet she made right now.

Oh, Spiny Norman!


  1. Wow, that's awesome! I love to decorate cakes, but I've never done one like this! I have one on my blog that I decorated.

  2. That thread with all the resources, your 'ultimate craft guide", is really amazing! You must have spent sooooo many hours compiling it!
    I've bookmarked it for later reference. Thanks for doing it.

  3. Thanks for the post!!! I really appreciate it!
    Liz Langsfeld (Mad Hatter Ceramics)


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