Sunday, June 19, 2011

Star Trek Father's Day Cake

Happy Sunday and HAPPY FATHER'S DAY! This week's cake is for the Father's in my life. Both my husband and my son-in-law are Star Trek fans. Unfortunately I don't get to make these cakes for clients since it's copyrighted (can't make money off of copyrighted items) but I DO get to make them for family! And this one was fun to do but a challenge when you know you are going to be critiqued by true fans. In fact, there's a third Trekkie coming to dinner who will be taking a look too!

This cake is handcarved from a half sheet cake. It's yellow cake with vanilla buttercream filling and then covered in buttercream and then fondant. The fondant was handpainted with two colors of gold and trimmed in black. The black was shiny and picked up the gold off the board so that it looks like there is gold in the trim but it's solid black. As I have mentioned before, it's easy to paint on fondant. You just use a clear alcohol of some sort, like vodka or clear vanilla, and mix it with either luster dust or gel food colors to make a thin paint consistancy then paint on in layers. For this cake I painted on a darker "old" gold luster dust paint and then a shiny "new" gold over that to give it a bit more depth and add to the design of the insignia. Just make sure to stop and let the paint dry between coats or the new coat will start to "pick up" the old coat and you won't get an even surface.

The "secret" this week is about carving. I always freeze my cakes (bake, cool, torte or level as needed then wrap well with cling wrap or, my favorite "Press and Seal" wrap then freeze over night up to one month) because it gives moisture inside the cake that makes it taste much better. But for carving freezing is a must. The cake doesn't have to be hard frozen but it helps. I use a serrated bread knife for the large cuts and a small paring knife for the fine cuts. This is much easier to do when the cake is solid and not soft like it is when it has thawed out. You can either fill the cake before or after carving, your choice. I usually fill before carving but in this case, with such a flat cake, it was easier to fill after. Anything with fine edges or curves should be carved after filling. Then I covered it with a crumbcoat and let it sit overnight to thaw and settle. It doesn't have to be that long, you can wait 3 hours and then finish but I prefer to let it settle overnight when time allows.

There are two reasons for waiting for the cake to thaw and settle. If you try to put the final buttercream or fondant layer on a frozen cake, as it thaws it will release gasses that can escape the crumbcoat layer but not the final layer and you can end up with gas bubbles on your cake. In buttercream they will pop and part of your buttercream will just suddenly fall off your cake. In fondant it will make a huge bubble on the side of the cake and even if you pop it you will not be able to smooth it out. The second reason to let it sit for awhile is to allow the spaces in the filling part of the cake to settle. Some of your filling could squish out and create a bulge around the middle of your cake. If you wait till it settles then you can smooth this bulge out and have a smooth cake side.

Last tip that someone gave me this week on frosting a cake. When you finish frosting with buttercream, before adding the final trim of frosting or ribbon to the bottom, run an offset spatula between the cake board and the cake, just an inch or so from the edge, to break the seal. This will allow any trapped gas or air to escape. Give that an hour or so then trim as normal. This helps the gas/air to escape from between the crumbcoat and final buttercream layer. If you are covering your cake in fondant remember to either mist the cake with water or spread on piping gell so the fondant will adhere to your cake. By the time the cake has set for 3-24 hours the buttercream crumbcoat will be dry and the fondant will have nothing to stick to so make sure to moisten it so it will.

Next week I begin work on miniatures for cupcakes that are coming up early next month for a family reunion. I'll share with you the steps and the final products next Sunday!

In the meantime we are going to have a great day filled with BBQ, yummy cake and two great Father's to honor!


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