Kodi: looking more determined than ever to get some food
The process of baking and decorating a cake is far more work than I would have ever originally thought. Maybe after a lot of practice, it becomes faster/easier. But, there are just so many things that can go wrong. In our case, we found a few of them. Here's our journey making a Bar Mitzvah cake.
You can check out the rest of our cake decorating experiences to date, here.
Our cake decorating adventure started out with a visit to Canada's premiere baking warehouse Golda's Kitchen. Can't go to their store - no worries, check out the online shopping nirvana. They ship to the states too!
Confused about what to do first, second or third? Send "Golda" an email. Response time is incredible, customer service just like the good old days when people actually cared. We took the trek to the warehouse and stood in total awe of the million different ways to spend money and be happy doing it. We were even lucky enough to have Golda come out and help problem solve. Does it get any better than that?
Ok – Golda may have thought that we were crazy and a bit last minute on our cake decorating plans. But, we used pity to our advantage and got a good 30 minutes of advice from Golda.
The plan was to make a cake that looked like an open torah with scrolls on the side. A torah is a long scroll containing the entire text of the Five Books of Moses, hand-written in the original Hebrew. It is rolled up around two ornate wooden shafts, attached to either end of the scroll. An open torah looks like this
Check out this link to see where some of our ideas came from.
The scrolls would be made out of jelly rolls and placed on top at that sides of a large cake base. We didn’t know anything about jelly rolls, except what Golda has described. So, probably a first mistake to not look into the process making a jelly roll in more detail. For future reference, here's a good starting point.
We started by using Golda’s recipe for chocolate cake:
Perfect All-American Chocolate Butter Cake
½ c + 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 cup boiling water
3 large eggs
2 ¼ tsp vanilla
2 ¼ + 2 Tbsp sifted cake flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
Makes 2 – 9x1 1/8 layers (we made a double recipe)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 2 9x1 ½ round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment and then grease and flour (we used two jelly roll pans)
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cool to room temp.
3. In another bowl, lightly combine the eggs, ¼ of the cocoa mixture and vanilla.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 second to blend. Add the butter and the remaining cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high if using hand mixer) and beat for 1 ½ minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.
5. Scrape batter into prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about ½ full. Bake for 25 – 35 minutes or until a tester inserted near centre comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the centre. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
6. Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up and cool completely before wrapping airtight.
Adapted from the cake bible by Rose Levy Berenbaum.
So – sounds good. In theory. The trouble started when Giz reinverted the first cake. All I heard was “oh sh*t” and turned around to see this:
So, from this point, Giz was cut off from reinverting duties. Thankfully, we made a double recipe because we had to quickly make another cake. Generally, this is what the cake looks like after being reinverted.
Then the instructions we had were to roll the cake up right away to let it cool while in the rolled shape. That was easy enough…
Or so I thought…
Upon unrolling, I saw the first crack and thought, “oh no”. Then I continued unrolling and “oh no” turned into “oh crap”. Then… “mom, look at this”. “Mom…what are we going to do?”… Then denial. “Maybe we can fix this…with enough icing, you probably won’t notice”.
So, we proceeded to fill the roll using a similar technique as this one:
Then, I tried to roll it up…and things went from bad to worse:
So, I gave up entirely on the jelly roll. Apparently, this isn’t supposed to be terribly difficult. So, the challenge to perfect the jelly role continues. Here's bunny's roll - so you have a better idea of what a roll is supposed to look like.
At least it didn’t go to complete waste. R did his part to give our cake disaster a “good home”.
And then he came back for more:
But we still needed to figure out a quick backup plan. Neither Giz nor I trusted our ability to do a better job on the 2nd (or would that be 3rd) try… So, Giz ran out to the store and came back with these:
I know – complete cop out. But we tried – honestly!
Now…moving on to the more successful part of our baking efforts… We used Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake recipe. You know, the Daring Baker recipe from a few months back. Check out Ann from Redacted Recipe's version (also contains full recipe) of the cake. We hadn’t joined Daring Bakers at that point, so this was our first time using the recipe. We used it to make a large flat cake, I believe the pan’s dimensions were 11 X 14 X 3 (maybe larger).
So far, so good…
Split the cake down the middle and add a layer of buttercream (the same buttercream as Dorie Greenspan's recipe):
Add a layer of seedless raspberry puree on top of the buttercream:
Putting it all together, we get to this point. See the cake starting to shape up?
We iced the outside of the cake with this icing recipe:
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp meringue powder
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
beat water and meringue to frothy stage, add icing sugar and beat 3-5 minutes on stand mixer (7-10 on hand mixer). Add butter, shortening and vanilla and beat until smooth.
At first it curdled on me. But, seemed to be ok after I mixed more. I thought it tasted pretty good on the cake too. But, Giz used the recipe today for a different recipe (I’m sure she’ll share it with you later) and has since announced that this icing is crap. So – use it at your own risk.
After all that – here’s the final product. We transported it without any mishaps and it went off well.
Hours to create: 16
Hours to eat: 0.5
It was an exhausting undertaking for us. Probably more stressful to make the cake than everything else we made, combined.
Looks like we weren’t the only ones who were exhausted. Here’s the bar mitzvah boy:
and, of course, Kodi: