My Cake Decorating Gallery

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Birthday Cake for a Few Lucky Nerds

I'm not sure why I agreed to do it, I guess I just couldn't fathom my coworker, Joe, having to go out to Milford Bakery to get a little birthday cake made for he and our other coworker, Marco, who shared the same birthday on March 19th. I said "oh, hm, well instead of that, I have no class for once this Thursday so I could probably make something..?" ... and then Marco stopped by later saying he likely wouldn't be in Friday, so "you don't have to bring anything in Friday...." which was quickly followed up with "but Monday would be good."

I guess I had spoiled my coworkers with Cookies for a Cause almost every Friday for the last half of 2009, and since 2010 has come around, there hasn't been anything like that going on from Kitchen Bliss. They're hungry and need their sugar buzzes. I also miss baking, I have been trying to keep the stuff out of the house but it's always fun to make a new cake,.. so I agreed to make one for Marco and Joe last weekend. I knew it had to be nerdy since we work in a software/electrical engineering area.

I also wanted to utilize the opportunity to try a few new things, so there was at least a benefit to me. :) I tried out a version of White Almond Sour Cream cake, aka (WASC), which a ton of people on CakeCentral use for wedding cakes and such. I also had a carton of Bettercreme which I had wanted to try as a filling but hadn't had a chance to yet. I had a box of vanilla cake mix, and the WASC recipe starts with that and adds a 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup sour cream, 1 cup water, some salt, 3 eggs, and some flavoring. See all of the information here. It was the perfect amount for one 10x10 square layer and I was hoping it would make the cake tall enough to torte and then fill and not have to make another layer. It worked out pretty well, it was much shorter than my cakes usually are, but my cakes are usually like 5 or 6 inches tall which is a little high.

My opinion of the WASC recipe was that it needed more flavoring (granted I didn't measure out my vanilla, almond, and baker's compliment exactly), and it was a lot more dense than just the cake box alone. I liked the dense part, it was more sturdy and felt less likely to crumble or crack, which is helpful for stacking cakes and traveling. The flavoring I can adjust, plus the frosting overpowers the cake flavor most of the time.

As for Rich's Bettercreme, which is also popular on CakeCentral and around bakeries everywhere, it was pretty tasty. Now I know it is not fancy, it is a non-dairy whipped topping basically, and it has been described to me as "the stuff Walmart, Costco, and Sam's club use on their cakes".. so if you like that "light and airy" whipped frosting and think that American buttercream is too sweet and heavy and greasy, you might want to give this stuff a try. My local cake store sells it by the carton in liquid form. It whipped up quickly in the kitchenaid and as recommended on CakeCentral by MacsMom and Melvira, two ladies who do awesome things with Bettercreme, I also added one box of pudding mix - Cheesecake flavor to be exact, and some milk. It tasted great, I don't care if it is fake. I am one of those people who like the light and whipped frostings as well. I like mousseline which is light and airy and very buttery too, and American buttercream as well (made with at least half of real butter), so I am not too picky I guess. Not a huge fan of store-bought frosting jars or any of that stuff.

One thing I especially liked about the Bettercreme (besides it's easy to whip, flavor, and it's tasty and light and airy) is that it keeps its volume when being pressed between two layers of cake. You can actually get that big 3/4 or 1 inch thick layer of airy filling that looks so delicious, and it didn't seep out the edges or deflate upon sitting or anything like that. I am going to do some experiments because I'll be doing a wedding cake and my friend wants to see if we can do it ALL in Bettercreme... so stay tuned for more Bettercreme news at KitchenBliss.

I used a layer of raspberry jam along with the thick layer of cheesecake flavored bettercreme, and then my cake was ready to be frosted. I used my typical 2 sticks butter, same volume crisco, and about 6-8 cups powdered sugar as my outside frosting. This is the wilton recipe for decorator's frosting, and you can flavor it with whatever extracts you want, and can add milk or water or corn syrup to change consistency. I used a little orange extract along with my usual vanilla, almond and baker's compliment, so that was really very nice.

When I was cruising around CakeCentral, I noticed a very pretty black and white cake which had this interesting lacey/flower pattern piped onto it, so I wanted to try that on this cake, just for fun. Then I had to think of a way to make it nerdy. So it was Sunday night and I finally came up with a birthday software algorithm that I thought they would like.. it went something like this:

if ((VeDAY_e_Today = 'CeDAY_e_March19th') && ((VeNAME_e_Coworker == 'CeNAME_e_Marco) || (VeNAME_e_Coworker == 'CeNAME_e_Joe)) && (VeWORK_e_Group = 'CeWORK_e_ETC_and_SafetySystems'))
  VeMSG_e_Wish = 'Happy Birthday You Guys';
  VeCAKE_e_Priority = 'CeCAKE_e_FirstSlice';
  VeCAKE_e_Priority = 'CeCAKE_e_Wait_Your_Turn';

I write software so this is all looking pretty normal to me and I wrote it in a style so that they'd be able to read it pretty easily, even if these guys weren't coders themselves.. and if they didn't understand it, no cake! I took out some fondant and colored it green and rolled it out and had no good ideas for the shape and just went for a starburst type of thing. It was already after 10pm on Sunday night and maybe I could've used some food coloring or piped all of this code out, but my little paint brush was not fine enough so I totally just used a caligraphy marker and knew no one would eat the fondant anyway (I'd make sure of it, plus it's Wilton and tastes gross). So the marker went on pretty fast, though I had to shorten some of the code.

So if you're looking for an idea on how to make a birthday cake for a software engineer or a computer geek or a birthday cake for a nerdy computer science person, this might be an interesting idea for you. Everyone in the group loved it - the nerdy code and also the taste and look of the cake. Joe ate probably 3 slices just so he could get more Bettercreme filling - it was a big hit!

And so this ends the description of 2010's first cake from Kitchen Bliss. It isn't the fanciest or nicest looking cake but it served its purpose and turned out well.

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