Happy Sunday! The beginning months of the year is a Cakers slow time. It's a welcome break after such a hectic Holiday Season but we still have small orders to keep us going. January is full of birthdays and even small dinner parties with friends catching up and having their Holiday celebrations a bit later due to family commitments.
This week's cake was for just this sort of get together. To evoke the spirit of Christmas this cake is a Gingerbread Spice cake. To make it a bit more special for the dinner party it has Caramel Buttercream for filling and for the top and then was drizzled with even more caramel. This is a very rich cake so this little six inch cake feeds 12. Yup, tiny slices for a rich dessert like this one but oh so good!
To make this is fairly easy. Bake the Gingerbread Spice cake in a 6 inch pan and do not worry about leveling the dome. You want the icing to appear domed so your cake will help achieve that effect without having to use more icing. To get the icing just make your regular buttercream recipe and add in enough caramel to your taste. This will loosen up the buttercream so you will need to sift in more powdered sugar to make it the consistency you want and need it to be for the cake. You want to end up with something that peaks but doesn't crust up too hard, otherwise it won't sploosh out of the layers. I know, I know, usually you don't want sploosh in your layer cakes but with this cake you want to define the layers so sploosh is wanted and needed. Cut your cake into 3 layers and then, using a piping bag with no tip or coupler, swirl a dot in the middle of the bottom layer and then a ring around that. Add the next layer and gently push down just until the filling starts to sploosh out. As you add the layers it will sploosh a bit more due to the weight of the cake and icing so make sure not to push down too hard on that first layer. Once you have done the same for the next layer just swirl the icing on the top of the cake. Now let that sit up for just a few minutes and then, using a back and forth and then side to side motion with the caramel sauce, make your caramel pattern on top and let it drip down the sides. Done! You want it to set up so you don't end up with rivulets in your icing. This will take just a few minutes in between steps to allow your icing to crust up just a bit.
Now I bring you the other celebration popular in January and February...Birthdays! This "Coach" style purse cake serves 15. The trick to making a purse cake is your measurement of width vs height. You need to make sure your width is at least 2/3rds the height of your cake. Even so you will need to insert dowels into your cake in order to make it more stable. There are 4 in this cake spaced out evenly from end to end. You can choose to lay the base fondant on in one sheet but this can weigh down the cake so, more often than not, I use panels instead. Then all of the details are added except for the trim, zipper pull and handles. Once the details are on I added the trim which is just fondant snakes that have been added in, as often as possible, one long strip per section. The handles are a bit harder. They need to set up a little bit but not too much. You want them to stand up on the cake like real purse handles but if you get them too solid they will crack or even break when you try to curve them to the cake. A combination of both fondant and gumpaste or fondant and tylose powder will help it dry quickly but not too quickly so you will have a chance to mold it to your cake. Even so, with this one I used crinkled rolled up Press&Seal to hold the handles into place until they were dry enough to hold their own weight. The last touch was adding the zipper pull. Making these is really like you would do it with real leather. You make a long rectangle, cut it vertically to make the strips but do not cut all the way to the top. that way you have a solid piece with the strips below. Now let that sit up for a few minutes to dry out a bit. Then beginning with one end, roll up the solid piece and you will end up with the tassel effect. Next make a ball of fondant and then, using your thumb, start to hollow out one side of the ball until you have a cap for your tassel. Poke two holes into the top of it and then attach it to the tassel. Finally, using a thin rolled fondant snake, make a loop. Thread it through the zipper and then attach that to the cap where you put the holes.
Yup, a lot of detail work goes into a cake like this but your guests will be amazed and will be talking about the cake for years to come. I know this for certain because this particular birthday cake was made a few years back and I still get requests for purse cakes because of this one! When was the last time someone brought up your floral centerpiece??? But a cake like this will be talked about for years to come....that sounds like a solid investment with the added delight of the joy from your birthday honoree and the delicious cake you get to eat as well!
This upcoming week is a cupcake week! They are wedding cupcakes so that makes it even more fun! I'll also be featuring a wedding cake in order to get everyone in the mood for the wedding season which is on it's way!