Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Epic Cake

Have you guys heard of Pinterest? Neither had I, up until a month ago, but now I am absolutely addicted to it. It’s probably the main reason why I haven’t been blogging as often as I would like to lately.

What is Pinterest? Well, it’s kinda like Facebook but with a lot more pictures. It looks like this:


If you are a visual person like me, this thing may just become your heroin. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!) How does it work, you ask. You basically “pin” images (and links) of things you like – foods, places, things, ideas, quotations, books, and whatever else floats your boat.  You put them in various categories (boards) on you profile. You can browse other people’s pins and “re-pin” them, “like” them, comment on them or follow other people.

Prior to discovering Pinterest, I’d stumble on really cool things while surfing the web but often couldn’t find them again when I needed to. Not any more. Now, I can just pin the things and save them in the appropriate categories(boards) on my profile and then when I need them, Bada Bing, they are there! It’s really awesome. And no, I am not paid by Pinterest to advertise for them, I’ve just been so inspired by them that I had to share the joy. It’s still in beta and you have to request an invite to join but it’s fairly simple and quick.

So, anyway, I was sitting on the couch one night looking at cool stuff on Pinterest, when Her Cuteness sat next to me and started looking at the pretty pictures (and I don’t mean Gilles Marini ‘cause I hadn’t pinned him just yet but that’s a whole different story…). She was instantly intrigued by this:

Can you blame her? It’s the Rainbow Doodle Birthday Cake and I was kinda drooling when I first saw it too. It took Nia a couple of seconds to decide that it’s the cake she wanted for her birthday. Well, I thought, her birthday is not until November, I have plenty of time to figure out how to make it, so I foolishly said “Sure, honey, why not!”

Then, just for the hell of it, I looked at the recipe. Boy, was that thing way out of my cake league. It was quite intimidating but inspiring and irresistible at the same time.  I couldn’t risk making it for the first time for her birthday. So many things could go wrong. I had to figure it out... like NOW. And since my birthday was conveniently coming up in a couple of weeks, I thought, “What the hell, I’ll test-make it for my birthday and if it doesn’t work out, we’ll eat it anyway.” So, happy birthday to me, right!???

This is probably a good time to mention that one of my birthday gifts this year was a…

KitchenAid KSM75WH Classic Tilt-Head Stand Mixer

… yup, a Kitchenaid stand mixer and I was just dying to use it for something awesome. So it just had to happen, you know,  the stars were perfectly aligned. Her Cuteness’ request, the recipe, the mixer – it was a trifecta, really…

The only problem was I had never made anything so involved. This was not a whip-it-in-a-half-an-hour cake. I mean, when I first read the recipe, I had to look up a few words. It has things like Swiss Meringue Buttercream and fondant, for crying out loud. Those are not for the faint of heart. But for my sweetheart, I was going to figure it out. So about 10 days out, I started collecting coupons (‘cause I am a coupon maniac queen) and buying the supplies. I had to find just the right kind of food coloring (gel) and the decorator pens. I actually cheated on the decorator pens because I am cheap thrifty and the ones the recipe called for were quite pricey and unavailable at my local craft store, for which I had 50% off any one item coupons. I ended up getting a set that had half the colors but ended up costing me a lot less. I also had to get industrial amounts of butter and sugar because that’s like 90% of the cake. Seriously!

It took me the better part of three days to finish the darned thing but finish it I did and it looked like this:

Rainbow cake2

Not too shabby, eh?

It didn’t have to take three days to make the cake but there were diapers to be changed, homework to be done, dinners to be prepared, and all kinds of other fun stuff, so I had to squeeze cake making where I could. This is how it went down. On day one, I made the layers, put them in plastic wrap and stashed them in the freezer. On day two, I whipped up the fondant. I opted for a marshmallow fondant recipe but used butter instead of shortening. I have a thing about shortening. It kinda grosses me out. The fondant had to sit overnight before I could use it. On day three, I made the Swiss Meringue Buttercream and assembled the whole monstrosity cake. The buttercream actually turned out exactly as described in the recipe. The fondant on the other hand was kind of tricky but I am guessing, it may have had something to do with my substitution of butter for shortening. It ended up sticking to the countertop, so my Mom had to help me with it (she has some wicked rolling pin skillz) but we figured it out.

Last but not least, we had Nia decorate the cake with the decorator pens (markers, really):


She wanted to draw a fairy with black hair and diamond wings. The final design looked a little Goth but she liked it and that’s all that matters, right? Here we are before cutting our masterpiece:

Rainbow cake1

Was it tasty? Well, yes but to be perfectly honest, it was so rich that we had a hard time finishing our pieces. It’s incredibly sweet. So sweet, as a matter of fact, that Nia decided she doesn’t want it for her birthday after all. So sweet, that 10 days later we still have a quarter of it in the fridge. So unless I figure out something lighter to use instead of the Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I probably won’t be making it again. Which is a shame because it is such a beautiful cake and I just figured out how to make it. The fondant didn’t help either. But if I figure out a substitute for the Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I can make it without the fondant. I’d also use a white cake mix instead of making the layers from scratch. Oh, and I’d probably hide the black marker – it made the design a little scary.

The inspiration behind this cake actually did not have the fondant and it was featured on Martha Stewart, so if you want to try making it, you may find this video helpful. The recipe for the original Rainbow Cake (without the fondant and the doodles) can be found here. It is very detailed and has links for making the Swiss Meringue Buttercream as well. The original recipe called for lemon extract in the buttercream but I am not a big fan of lemony cakes, so I used orange extract in mine and it turned out good.

If you know of a good, lighter and less sweet substitute for the Swiss Meringue Buttercream, please let me know in the comments. Thanks!


  1. Color me all impressed! That turned out really well. I would just love to do that cake for my 7 year olds birthday this fall. Guess I will be doing some shopping for food colors this summer. I got a kitchen aid for my birthday two years ago. It maybe my favorite present ever! Isn't it just so much fun to use?!

  2. What a gorgeous cake! I'm very impressed!

  3. I have a (happy) habbit of making my own birthday cakes as well. It's sort of a long standing tradition. That way I get to bake and have the exact cake that I want. :)

    Lovely colours in your cake- so vibrant! I prefer not-so-sweet cakes as well.

  4. I love the colors! Good to know that it is super sweet though (as our almost 5 year old just requested it after seeing your blog). I'll have to see what I can come up with. Good work!

  5. i can't believe you made that so perfectly! happy birthday!!

  6. Gorgeous cake! My kids would totally be into that one and loving it. Maybe I will have to see what I can do during consumables shopping to give it a go just to surprise them. Well done!

  7. This week’s State Department Blog Round Up is here, and you're on it!

    Please let me know if you have any objections and would like to be removed. Thanks, and Happy Memorial Day!

  8. That is a beautiful cake and it looks like you both had fun doing your parts to make it happen. I even like the Goth fairy, because the overly cute pastel-y ones make cringe. The colors of the layers are amazing!

  9. This is beyond impressive. I can't believe this is the sort of thing I have to look forward to. Mercy me. And I was just recently introduced to pinterest as well. I don't quite get it. Sounds like I just need to spend some more time there poking around...

  10. That's absolutely amazing! I could totally see Kelsey requesting that...hmm!


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