Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Number Three Caterpillar Birthday Cake

It was a busy weekend, as so many are. Gumdrop's family party was fast approaching, and I showed my other half various birthday cake options on Pinterest, hoping for his help narrowing down the choices. So when he lovingly suggested that we do something simple... I realized it was up to me alone.

Not that I blame him. He grew up on box cake baked into a rectangular pan--"regular cake," so they call it. His mom made a tasty buttercream frosting, and voila! Birthday cake. For my mom, however, cake was her artistic medium, and for your birthday, you ate a boat or a bunny or something of that sort. Further, box-cake isn't my jam; it tastes kinda ho-hum. I'm sure Gumdrop could care less, as he usually eats little frosting before asking for a handful of chocolate chips instead. Still, if I'm going to make it, I'd like to enjoy it, too. Besides, last year SourPatch got a delicious and fun Octonauts cake; Gumdrop deserved one, too. So I said to myself. Because I wanted to make one.

So, busy weekend or not, I settled on the classic number 3 cake, caterpillar-style. There are rough instructions for it in this delightful, jazzy video tutorial...doo, doo, doo-doo-doo, doo-doot-doo. It shows where to cut the bundt cakes AND has you use a cookie scoop to distribute the frosting. Have I mentioned how much I love my cookie scoop? I use it whenever I can: to fill muffin tins, to fill chicken puffs, and to, well, scoop cookie dough. Now, I shall use it to distribute frosting on a cake, and I love it.

Eh-hem. Anyways, here's the final result:

This does make a lot of cake. I love my Cake Mix Doctor cookbook and went into a panic when I could not find it in the new house (I later found it in the linen closet, naturally...)! This turned out to be a boon, as I discovered the popular Too Much Chocolate Cake recipe on allrecipes.com. It is as delicious as the 5 stars and 5000 reviews suggest. Armed with my fluted bundt pan and ramekins, I doubled the recipe and cooked up the 4 cakes in two batches. Obviously, the small "head" cakes cook for a much shorter time than the bundt cakes, so be sure to check on them and pull them out early once they spring back to the touch.

While letting the cakes cool completely on wire racks, I whipped up some buttercream (again, from an online recipe, as my cookbook also contained my usual one). After skipping all the ones that are Crisco based (really? For buttercream frosting?), I found a classic butter-powdered sugar-milk variety that tasted as delicious as anything made from those ingredients should. 

It was only then that I realized I grabbed a box of neon food coloring by mistake... ah well. For added texture and interest, I tossed giant round sprinkles onto the frosting immediately after spreading (before the frosting hardens up). I thought the effect was great... until we ate it a few hours later. Sheesh, those sprinkles are like rocks! I felt like a was going to break a tooth; I'm getting something smaller next time. Good thing it looked cute.

To finish it off, I added the facial features. Though the obvious choice of decoration was fondant, I shuttered to resort to it. Not only do I dislike the taste, but don't you also have to either make or buy a lot of it for a tiny amount of decoration? Luckily for me, I'd learned the Starburst hack from the dragon cake I made SourPatch ages ago. A small pack of Starburst will give you a variety of colors, and a few seconds in the microwave will yield them malleable for a few minutes before they harden again. So a few yellow, orange, and red squares plus two toothpicks yielded eyes, mouth, and antennae for our caterpillar friend.

Happy Birthday, Gumdrop. May your next year be as bright as this (neon) cake!

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