Thursday, April 24, 2014

K's Baking Party: Cookies & Cake

I've said it before, but I'll say it again - no birthday party is complete without cookies! At some point in the planning process of K's birthday party, the cupcake started to emerge as a theme. As a result, I decided to incorporate cupcakes into the cookies as well. Unfortunately, I don't have a cupcake cookie cutter, so I had to make do with what I did have - a scalloped diamond and a ruler.

I started by rolling out my cookie dough and cutting straight edge. Using the more rounded half of my scalloped diamond, I cut out the top half of the diamond. In case you want to make your own cupcake cookies, I think the same result could be done with a circle or oval cutter instead of the scalloped diamond. It might even be a bit cuter.

Using the ruler, I cut another straight line, and then a second one about 3cm above the first.

I cut that long rectangle into smaller rectangles roughly the width of the top cupcake bit.

Then I sliced them inwards slightly, to make them look like the base of the cupcake (note: the one on the right had not yet been cut).

On the lined cookie sheet, I placed the top and bottom as closely together as possible, but they didn't connect perfectly.

No problem at all - I just used my finger to smooth out the line a bit.

They ended up looking like this before baking.

Look at the little army of cupcakes!

I mentioned before, that I really didn't have a whole lot of time to spend on this party. Cutting and piecing together the cupcakes took a good amount of time and I assumed that decorating them would as well. To save myself some time, after about 16 cupcake cookies, I just cut the rest of the dough into scalloped circles.

Once the cookies were baked and cooled I wrapped them up and put them in the freezer for about a week. A few nights before the party, I got them out, thawed them and got to decorating. Just like the real cupcakes, I only used white and yellow icing. This seriously cut down on prep time and kitchen mess. I started with the "frosting" part of the cookie. To reinforce the line I wanted to try to cover most of it with one color of icing. I did a little swirl at the bottom and then went straight up and over the top, to make a rounded, slightly wavy triangle. Then I filled it in. For the first few, I put the sprinkles on right away, but I found that it looked better if I gave the icing a bit of time to harden slightly before putting on the sprinkles.

Once the tops were done, I went to the bottoms. These were done in yellow - again starting with the outline and then filling them in.

Once they were completely dried, I piped on vertical lines to mimick the cupcake wrapper. For the scalloped circles, I did half of them in yellow, the other half in white. Half of each color got sprinkles, the other half got a "4" on them. In a final detail, I piped tiny dots around the edges of the circles to highlight the scalloped edge. (I did a really awful job of taking photos for this party. So, yes, this is the exact same photo from above, but I thought it would be easier to see the final details if I showed this photo again.)

Next up was the cake. Ahhh, the cake. I was so super dissappointed in it. I wanted it to be a huge cupcake, but it ended up looking like a pot of white flowers. Boooo. The good news is that once it was cut and plated, it looked adorable and tasted even better.

I don't have a giant cupcake tin, so I just did what I could with round tins and a knife. I started by making a full vanilla cake recipe and a half of a chocolate cake recipe. Then I sliced each of the cakes in half horizontally to give me six rounds to work with. I started with the bottom of the cake, stacking the layers one on top of the other, vanilla, chocolate, vanilla. Then I put a small bowl on top and using a toothpick sketched out a line about 1cm away from the edge of the bowl.

Following my line, I sliced down and out diagonally to give the cupcake base the correct shape.

Then I took the layers apart, separated them with the buttercream and re-stacked them, upside down. I did the same idea for the top of the cupcake, but I cut the shape so that it was rounded at the top and then went straight down. This was a mistake. In my head it was much better than the pointy cupcake top the pan bakes into, but I was wrong. The pointy top would have been way better. Live and learn, right?!

Then it came time for the crumb coats. I did the top and bottom separately since the six layers would have been too tall to fit into my fridge.

Once the bottom half's crumb coat was hard, I busted out the yellow buttercream for the base. I first just focused on getting a fairly even coat on the bottom.

Then I dragged an offset spatula from the bottom of the cake, up to the top to create something that looked like wrapper folds. As you can see, I left a tiny space between each vertical drag. I love how the bottom turned out.

Finally it was on to the top. :( After the crumb coat was dried, using the biggest star tip I own, I piped stars all over the cake. I left about 5cm from the bottom empty to make it easier to move the cake onto the base the next morning.

Instead of using the same white buttercream to join the top to the bottom, I made a delicious ganache. I thought it would add a bit of visual interest to the cut cake. I also thought it would kick up the tasty factor a bit - I was totally wrong on the shape of the cake, but I was so, so right about this decision!

Once I put the top onto the bottom of the cake, I finished up the piping. I didn't even take a photo of the finished cake. I totally forgot. I think had I been more proud of how the cake looked, I would have remembered, but what can you do? On top of the finished cake, I put a yellow "4" candle, but I moved it to K's cupcake for the blowing out of the candle bit. The main reason that I moved it, was because I knew the cake would take a good amount of time to cut - there were 17 adults to cut for. I thought it would be pretty lame to have K blow out his candle and then 30 minutes later, finally eat the cake. 

So, about 30 minutes before singing the old "Happy Birthday Song", I got to cutting the cake. I LOVE how it looks cut. I think the black and white stripes look so super cool. Good thing, because I was seriously bummed by how the cake looked pre-cutting. Many of the guests commented on how beautiful the cake looked (post-cutting), but even more commented on how good it was. Wahoo!!

 Seventeed slices of cake? Don't mind if I do!

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