A Baker I am NOT

My sister has a cake decorating business on the side. This is decidedly NOT in my skill set.

When I looked at buying Jane's birthday cake I balked at the price -- about $70 for a cake from a nice bakery that would have enough to feed as many people that *might* come. (That's another issue -- I'm getting RSVPs today for a party that's tomorrow!) This is the first year we've invited her entire class, so we have the potential for a few dozen people in our backyard. (Thank God for gorgeous weather!)

Anyway, I decided "I can do that" and planned to make the cake myself. I did do a test cake, and I picked the Pioneer Woman's "best chocolate sheet cake ever" because I wanted something to feed a crowd. I also bought a sheet pan to make it in! The cake was delicious, and my Sunday school class agreed. But it was thin and didn't seem very BIRTHDAY-y to me.

So my plan was to bake the cake twice and stack it up, using the fudgy frosting from the recipe, although without nuts, as a filling/on top of the first cake. Sounds good to me/easy enough, right? I even bought a box so that I could easily move the finished cake in and out of the fridge.

My first attempt at the cake was fine this morning, but I didn't put a lot of thought into how I would get it from the pan to the cake "platter," which ended up being a piece of cardboard wrapped in foil. And I tried to move the cake immediately/while it was still warm. FAIL. I had a broken cake, a crying baby (from being neglected) and serious agitation.

I threw the cake into a bowl and set it aside. I took care of Livia and tried again once she was napping. I was smarter and able to flip the cake onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and then flipped again onto the foil cardboard. I put the fudgy, warm frosting on top of that layer then made the second cake. It also turned out fine and I put it in the fridge because I read layers are easier to work with when cold.

YEAH, they are, if they're out of the pan. D'oh. I didn't take this one out of the pan and it was impossible to get it out. And I'd used the last of my sugar on the third cake. Being the clever, clever girl I am I first tried using my iron to heat up the bottom of the pan and get the cake to release. It didn't work -- possibly because of lack of patience. I was baking cupcakes at the time (because what if someone doesn't like chocolate?), so I slipped the pan in for a couple minutes to warm it up. That worked and the cake released.

Back into the fridge to cool off some more. Good grief. The cake was still mostly cold, just wanted to chill it back as much as possible. The cake is so big it won't fit in my freezer, since we have a side-by-side and the freezer is smaller. ANYWAY.

My prayers worked because the cake layer did NOT crumble and I was able to place it on top of the fudgy frosting layer. I made a Mark Bittman chocolate buttercream recipe from a library book, and it technically wasn't enough. I got the top frosted really well and most of the sides, but it definitely doesn't look professional. I'm hoping the fudgy middle party will make up for that. Argh.

I also made vanilla buttercream and piped on Jane's name using letter cookie cutters to make an outline. It worked OK, but my star tip was crummy and it was just easier to draw a line. I also put sprinkles on and they migrated much farther across the cake than I intended. And in a dumb move I put sprinkles on the letters, kind of obscuring them. Hopefully people will think Jane helped and did that. (HA! She helped with the cupcakes, but not the cake itself.)

We'll see how it tastes tomorrow. I'll keep it in the fridge overnight and then pull it out in the morning so it can be room temperature for the party. I have ice cream to serve with it, and I'm making cake balls with the first destroyed cake. We'll see how those turn out. I'm not that hopeful, and honestly don't really feel like doing much more work tonight...

The moral of the story is that next time I am absolutely going to BUY a birthday cake. (And if someone doesn't like chocolate/whatever Jane chooses for her cake they can settle for ice cream!)

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