It was a busy week at the shop this week, it looks like Spring may actually have sprung. *fingers crossed*
We have lots of exciting things coming up and a full schedule of classes that are filling up. Classes have been going great with lots of new folks learning the basics of fermentation, bone broth, nut milks and more. Our schedule will soon be posted for April with some new classes and events coming to you too!
On the subject of learning, we thought it would be fun to share the process of making of a celebration cake, namely the 14th birthday cake of our kiddo, Alex. My kids have very high expectations for their birthday cakes, I suppose an occupational hazard of being a cake designer. I started making sculpted cakes for their birthdays when they were very little, and each year the ideas got a little grander. This year Alex’s ideas were a little more than I had the time and energy for so we had to make a compromise. I WILL make a Terraria cake, I will NOT blow sugar for said cake. At the end of the day, he hugged me and told me he loved his birthday, which if you know him is a big deal.
I wanted to talk about some of the products that I used for the cake because honestly, I was experimenting and it came out wonderfully. A friend sent me a box of Enjoy Life’s newish All Purpose Flour Blend which is a nice combo of ancient grains like amaranth, teff and buckwheat, rice proteins and probiotics. I didn’t have a recipe for a cake, so I threw one together. (which I will share) The resulting cake was moist and flavorful, a perfect combination for the banana cream filling (which I won’t share because it is a Kickshaws recipe, sorry!). The Enjoy Life Blends we will have in stock this week… as well as all the other major ingredients we used.
- 3 cups of Enjoy Life’s All Purpose Flour Blend
- 1 Cup Cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups coconut palm sugar
- 2 cups filtered water
- 3 large eggs
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 cups of organic powdered sugar (we use organic specifically because the sugar is blended with corn starch and we want to be sure it is a non-gmo cornstarch)
- 2 cups vegetable shortening (Spectrum Palm Shortening)
- 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- coloring of choice (we usually use India Tree colors)
Add the shortening and sugar to the bowel of a stand mixer (for a SUPER fluffy icing, the stand mixer is great) or large bowl for a hand mixer. Start slowly so you don’t blow the sugar everywhere and end up looking like one of the final scenes of Scarface. Combine the coconut milk and vanilla and as the mixer is running slowly add it to the bowl. Once things are starting to look a little more blended, increase the speed of the blender until you get to the highest speed. Blend the icing until it is fluffy and peaks well on its own.
First and foremost, heat that oven up to 350 degrees. I used a 10X10 square pan for this cake, but you could to 2-8 inch pans for a two layer cake with some good height. Give the pan a nice coating of vegetable shortening to prepare it. I usually throw things together and am not a stickler on order of ingredients on cake batters (not always true with everything). So I used a large bowl and put in all the cake ingredients and just blended well. Pour the batter into the greased pan(s) and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let it cool 5-10 minutes then remove it from the pan and cool on a wire rack.
Once the cake is cooled you can place one layer of the cake on a serving plate, top it with your desired filling and add the second layer. For the 10X10, I cut it in half and then added the filling. It is best to pipe a dam around the edge of the bottom layer with your icing to keep the filling from oozing out. Of course you can just use your “butter cream” as your filling too. When you stack the layers pop that in the fridge to set up for at least an hour. I guarantee you, taking your time to cool the cake completely will make your icing job a million times easier.
Once the cake is completely chilled pull it out and add your first layer of icing. This is what is called a “dirty iced” layer. You are just getting all the holes filled and level. Then stick that puppy back into the fridge to let that layer chill. (again… chilling it makes it so much easier and uniform)
Finally its time to ice the cake for presentation. You want to spread a thick layer over the cake. If you have a straight edge (plastic ruler if you don’t have a cake spreader) you can level out the icing really nicely. From there you can get crazy with decorating or just serve your cake! Obviously… we get a little crazier.
- 1 bag of Dandies Marshmallows
- 2/3 cup Tiny But Mighty Kernels
- 1/2 cup water
- Gluten-free Pretzel rods
- 1 cup Soy/Dairy-free chocolate chips (Enjoy Life or Equal Exchange)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
I decided that I needed trees and would make them by way of Tiny But Mighty popcorn balls. Several years ago (very much pre-dietary cleanup) I had a popcorn ball obsession. If I found them anywhere I would horde them 20-30 at a time. My office desk had a file cabinet and a popcorn ball drawer, pens found a home somewhere else. I wanted to make a popcorn ball a little healthier and functional for the cake design.
First- pop 2/3 of a cup of the kernels with 3 tablespoons of Chosen Foods Avocado Oil. In a small sauce pan put the Dandies over low heat and add (this is different then regular marshmallows and was a trial and error. Dandies are water based, so an oil or butter added like you would for rice crispie treats DOES NOT WORK) 2/3 cup of water. Let that simmer stirring regularly until it is completely melted and creamy. Add the popped corn to a large mixing bowl and pour the marshmallow over it and get busy evenly mixing it all together. From here you could press this into a pan and make bars, or like I did, into balls for popcorn balls. I wet my hands just a tad and started pressing them together until they held shape. Of course I was making trees, so I made several different sizes. I let them sit and cool and then took a wide basting brush and started powdering them with the Matcha Powder to make them green.
In a double boiler (or microwave in a pinch) melt the chocolate chips (in microwave SLOWLY… you will never get the smell of burned chocolate out of your microwave). When they are starting to melt, blend in the olive oil to make the chocolate smooth and a little more liquid. Then take your pretzel rods and dip them into the chocolate completely and using a fork pull them out one at a time and place them on a plate or cutting board. Stick those into the freezer for a quick chill. When your tree tops are done, pull the rods out of the freezer. If there is lots of chocolate pooled around the pretzels, you can use a paring knife to trim some of it away.
To topped the pretzel, with you finger make a slight indention into the popcorn ball tree top. Dip the top of the pretzel rod into the melted chocolate and press it into the popcorn ball. Set it down on the counter to dry. Once it dries, it should just hold together. From there you can pop those trees on your cake!
Our handsome birthday boy… err teen.
Your wondering about the eyeball aren’t you? Well… the eye ball is just a big popcorn ball that is twice covered with fondant. The first layer is used to smooth over (I literally roll it on the counter to smooth out all the holes), the second layer to look nice. Then I just hand paint the eyeball, generally if I have to use a “real” food coloring, I make it an element that isn’t going to be eaten. With the eye I used red dye, which I hate, but it gets the design done. So in this case, the eyeball was just set aside as decoration. My kiddo has a horrible reaction to red food dye, so we just don’t take chance.
So that is what I came up with to make this Terraria cake. Did I mention I had no idea what Terraria was before I made it? There are lots of other things I could have done, but I think this was simple enough for our small group and definitely made the kiddo happy. I hope it encourages you to get creative and have some fun on your own cakes! Of course if you ever need to bounce cakey ideas off someone, its kinda what I do 😉