Sunday, June 24, 2012

Round 2

If you all remember last week, (if you don't you can read about it here) I made a birthday cake and cupcakes for the son of one of my coworkers. This week it was time to make a cake and cupcakes for their daughter's birthday festivities. Instead of Legos, the request was Minnie Mouse. They sent me some ideas of what they would like, all of which included pink and polka dots. Obviously I was in.

Originally the order was for 40 cupcakes and a 6-inch cake, just like what I had made for them last week. But, if I've learned anything in my 26 years it's that sometimes things change and it's good to be flexible (I've learned other things too, but they don't all apply to baking). Instead of making a 6-inch cake, I was asked to make an 8-inch cake. And, instead of 40 cupcakes I was asked to knock the tally down to 1 dozen. Since I hadn't started baking anything at the time the favor was asked, making the adjustment wasn't a problem. I also offered to make 2 dozen cupcakes (or as close to 2 dozen cupcakes that I could get with the batter I would have) because I wanted to make sure they would have enough for all their guests. To get an 8-inch cake and 1 dozen cupcakes I was going to have to make 2 batches of batter anyway, so I might as well give them everything I got. I don't need any extra cupcakes sitting around.

As you all know, when I have an order like this, or really any cake or cupcake order I always bake and decorate on separate days. I like to spread out the work, it's a system that works for me. Of course the day I baked had to be the hottest day we've had in Connecticut all year. There were heat advisories across the state, temperature were in the 90s if not the 100s, but I think my kitchen was the hottest place of all. I tried to start baking as early in the day as possible so I wouldn't be sweating profusely into the cupcake batter. Sweat is not an ingredient for this recipe.

Just like last week I made 2 batches of batter, only this time, that was all I needed. It's amazing how much the workload is cut down when you only have to double a recipe as opposed to triple it. It was nice. I decided to make the cakes first because I had to have enough batter for those. Any extra cupcakes I got was going to be a bonus. I made 2 8-inch cakes (it was going to be a 2-layer cake). I used 4 cups of batter to fill each pan, which worked perfectly. I favor Wilton's baking pans because the cakes always come out level, and if you prepare the pans correctly (Crisco and flour), the cakes are easy to get out. I can never remember how long to bake the cakes in these pans. I threw out those instructions long ago... oops. I suppose it's something I could Google, but I never do. I started with 20 minutes just to be safe. It was not enough time. I added 10 minutes each time until the cakes were baked for a total of 40 minutes and they were done. I'll try to remember that for next time... or try to remember to Google it.

After the cakes were done I baked the cupcakes. I filled each three-quarters full and baked them for a total of 20 minutes with a turn halfway through the baking time. Exactly the same way as I did it last week. I ended up getting 18 cupcakes when all was said and done. Not as many as I thought, but I was confident that would be enough cupcakes for the guests at the party.

While the cupcakes were baking, I started making the fondant (I'm a big fan of multitasking). Unlike last week I needed more than one color. I needed both pink and white. I knew it would probably take one batch of fondant to cover the entire 8-inch cake. Since it's so much easier to color fondant while you're making it as opposed to after it's already done, I decided it would be easiest to make an entire batch of pink and then a separate batch of white, knowing that I would have a ton of extra white fondant. While I was smart enough to figure that out, I wasn't smart enough to realize that when making a batch of white fondant and a batch of another color, you should make the white batch first. That way, you don't have to wash the bowl after you make the first batch (if you don't wash the bowl in between you run the risk of having your white fondant with a tint of whatever your previous color was). You can just keep on going, optimizing efficiency. Unfortunately this brilliant idea didn't hit me until I put the food coloring in for the pink fondant, and at that point, there was no turning back.

With the fondants both done, I wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge overnight so they wouldn't get too hot and sticky in the midst of our heat wave. I thought about making the frosting on the same day, but since it was so hot and I wanted the frosting to be as fresh as possible I decided to wait until decorating day for that.

Decorating day was also a regular work day for me. In other words I had to put in overtime to finish everything up. Fortunately the weather was much cooler, we had a storm roll in that sent the heat and humidity packing. I made a double batch of Martha's fluffy vanilla frosting, the same one that I used last time. I like to stick with what works. I was hoping a double batch would be enough frosting and it was. I even had a little extra that I didn't end up needing. I iced the cupcakes first because I wanted to make sure all the cupcakes got the frosting they needed. I knew I could frost the cake thinly enough to make whatever frosting I had leftover last. Turns out I was able to put three coats of frosting on the cake and still have extra. But, I thought more than three applications of frosting would be too much. The cake was heavy enough as it was.

Time to decorate! I was able to find adorable pink and white polka dot cupcake liners, so I used those for the cupcakes. In addition to those the cupcakes were decorated with small pink sprinkles that looked like mini pearls. I actually had them on hand from a previous baking project and thought they would be perfect for Minnie Mouse. I also made little Minnie Mouse toppers for each cupcake. I remembered to put one on a cupcake to take a picture of it, but forgot to put them on the cupcakes for the party. You forget things when you don't get enough sleep. So, if you want 18 little Minnie Mouse heads I have some for you! I did however remember to put the bigger one I made on top of the cake, so I have that going for me. In addition to the topper for the cake I also lined the bottom with a white fondant ribbon and added white fondant polka dots over the rest of the cake.

I knew everything tasted good because I'd made the same thing last week. But, as always I get a little nervous about how everything is going to turn out appearance wise, especially the cake. It turned out to be exactly what I wanted, and I loved it. It might be my favorite of all the cakes I've made so far. But, I do have a soft spot for pink and polka dots. Ready for the finished products?!

Here's Minnie Mouse...

And the mini Minnies.