Halo-themed Birthday Cake

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Halo-themed Grunt birthday cake made for my brother's birthday 2013. A funfetti confetti cake made from scratch! No box mix here! A bubblegum flavored frosting.

Halo-themed Grunt birthday cake made for my brother’s birthday 2013. A funfetti confetti cake made from scratch! No box mix here! A bubblegum flavored frosting.

Now look, you could use a boxed cake mix but making a cake from scratch is not more difficult. The only difference is that you have to use fresh ingredients and measure them. That’s it! Your result will be better; you won’t regret it! My brother has had boxed “Funfetti” cake for most of his birthdays and he loves it but after this one, he said he never wanted a boxed cake again! Now there’s an endorsement!

The Cake

This is a moist, tender, and fluffy white cake.  I only did two layers, but you could split the layers to make four thin layers, or double the recipe for four regular layers.  Whatever floats your boat! I personally would float my boat in a sea of  frosting 😉 Be sure to adjust the amount of frosting you make if you increase the recipe though!

Gather:

  • 2, 9″ round cake pans
  • Parchment paper
    (do not use wax, it can melt an nobody wants wax on their cake!) Sit your cake pan on top, trace it with a pencil or pen, cut inside the line and Voila! A cake pan liner!
  • 4 Large egg whites
    (I used Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs. If you haven’t tried these, you should. Their heirloom Marans eggs are the best store-bought eggs I’ve ever had…ever!)
  • 1 C Milk
    (I used Horizon organic skim but whole is best)
  • 1 t Vanilla extract
    (use a high quality one. I use Nielsen-Massey Madagascar bourbon)
  • 1/2 t Almond extract
    (don’t use imitation and DO NOT USE MORE than 1/2t)
  • 4 T Unsalted butter
    (make sure this is completely softened.  I used Trader Joe’s Organic)
  • 8 T Shortening
    (I used Crisco.  You want the light colored stuff…nothing yellowy or it will keep the cake from being a bright white.)
  • 3 C Cake flour
    (I used Swans Down.  If you are unused to baking, you need to know that you cannot just substitute with another type of flour.  They have different protein amounts and are not interchangeable.)
  • 1 1/2 C White sugar
  • 4 t Baking powder
    (I used Clabber Girl.  Make sure your baking powder is fresh and has been open less than 6 months)
  • 1/2 t Table salt
    (I used Morton’s non-iodized)
  • 1/3 C Multi-colored rod shaped sprinkles

Prepare

  1. Set the butter out on a plate well before it’s time to start baking.  Give it at least an hour at room temp to get soft.
  2. Cut out a parchment liner for each pan.
  3. Take out your eggs and milk so they won’t be cold
  4. Triple sift your cake flour with the sugar, salt, and baking powder (it helps with fluffiness of the final product!)
  5. Heat the oven to 350’F
  6. Grease pans:
    Rub a thin layer of shortening (not butter) into your pans- don’t miss the cranny. we don’t want this baby sticking!  Put your parchment circle in the bottom. It should be snug, but not wrinkly. Rub shortening on top of it. Sprinkle a very small amount of flour inspide and shake it around until there is the lightest amount coating the surfaces.
  7. In a small bowl mix the egg whites, 1/4 C milk, and the extracts.
  8. In your stand mixer bowl beat the butter and shortening until creamy. It will be quick.
  9. Add the flour mixture and mix about half a minute and then slowly add the remaining milk.
  10. Mix on Medium a few minutes and be sure to keep the sides scraped.
  11. Add the egg whites in four installments allowing it to mix about half a minute between each addition.
  12. After the last of the egg, mix about a minute and remove your bowl from your mixer. This last part must be done by hand.
  13. Sprinkle the sprinkles on top of the mix (I mean what else would you do with them??) and very g e n t l y stir them in with a spatula.  If you are too vigorous or stir too much they will start to bleed and you won’t have a white cake anymore.
  14. Divide the batter into your pans.  The easiest accurate way is by weight if you have a kitchen scale, but I usually eyeball it.
  15. Drop the cake! Seriously. Don’t skip this step; it will ensure that your layers come out flatter and won’t have air pockets in them.  Take each cake pan and drop it to the counter from about a 6″ height about a half-dozen times or so.  You will see little air bubbles come up.

Now Bake!

Bake for 20-30 minutes. So many things could be different between my cooking environment and yours so you’re going to have to check it.  They should be golden and spring back when you press the center.  Put them on the same rack and turn halfway through.

Place the pans on baking racks for about 10 minutes.  Then turn the layers out onto a piece of parchment or a flat plate but make sure they end up with the domed side up.
Cool completely.  Seriously. Give it hours. Do it the day before you frost if you want, just wrap the layers tightly in plastic wrap so they won’t get crusty.  You absolutely do not want to frost a cake that is warm.  It’s a mess.

Trim the tops of your layers if necessary so you will have a flat, level, pretty cake. Unless you’re going for a hilly cake LoL 😀  I like to use dental floss to make even layers but there’s a bunch of techniques and honestly, I haven’t tried many.

The Frosting

I do bake quite often but I don’t actually make cakes much and I usually just do a simple frosting without design, but I’m adventurous so I gave it a go! Even if the frosting looked bad, I knew it at least would taste delicious!

I bought a Wilton decorator kit  for about $10 at Target and it worked pretty good, so I’d recommend it if you don’t already have something you like. Wilton has a good area of their site for decorating advice.

Now I was ready to frost this cake!

I have a fan-freaking-tastic cream cheese frosting that I almost always use.  It’s not too sweet.  It’s luscious and it’s no-bake.
BUT
Adventurous Housewife here decides to go with a buttercream frosting she’s never made.
It was awful. Like, cannot-be-salvaged-if-we-had-a-dog-I-wouldn’t-feed-it-to-him bad.
It was sickly sweet and mushy even though I followed the recipe. Blech.
I spent time and quite a bit of money in ingredients (four sticks of good butter and 6 C confectioners sugar- wasted!).  Now I didn’t have enough butter to make my cream cheese frosting and the grocery store is about 45 minutes away…soooo….

Option #2

I was glad that I, as a way of life, had followed the Girl Scout motto, “Be Prepared.”

Duncan Hines Frosting Creations unflavored starter. I am not proud of this moment.  but it saved my ass this one time. cake, icing, frosting

Duncan Hines Frosting Creations unflavored starter. I am not proud of this moment. but it saved my ass this one time.

I haven’t used a pre-made frosting in many years, but Target had a sale a few weeks prior on the Duncan Hines FrostingCreations and I had picked up one just to try and I got several of the frosting flavor packets. I picked up Mocha, Bubblegum, Cotton Candy, Caramel, and Strawberry Shortcake.  Let me tell you, I was really bummed to have this as my last resort but it was this or a naked cake, and I had planned on making this cake for weeks; I was so excited.  I was glad that I, as a way of life, had followed the Girl Scout motto, “Be Prepared.”  It saved my butt.

I was flustered and made mistakes.  Instead of portioning out the only jar I had of the frosting into two or more parts (one to frost the cake and one+ to decorate), I just mixed in the pink bubblegum flavor packet.  Pink- Not very “Halo” and not very “Brother”.  The bubblegum flavor was okay. I’d gladly add it to my homemade frosting (which is why I bought so many), but the frosting base was too sweet and weird.  It just does not “do it” for me. Oh well, it’s what I had. So I rationed my frosting and covered the cake. Then I mixed what was left with food coloring to make the orange-y color you see. I used one of the decorating tips and actually had a good time making the Grunt on the cake.  I used sugar sprinkles to color some of the areas so I wouldn’t have to try to mix another color of frosting. I was trying to be really careful since it really wasn’t enough.  I got a bit clumsy with the sprinkles but tedium is not my thing.

Finishing Touches

I sprinkled some of the rod-shaped sprinkles that I had used in the cake near the Grunt’s head like he had been head-shot’ed and it had exploded into confetti.  I put one of the stars I had filled the birthday balloons with where his face-hole would be.  I liked the effect especially when the cake was cut.  Hubby and Brother loved the cake and didn’t care one whit that it was store-bought frosting.  They didn’t even care that it was pink.

I don’t have a cake stand per se but I just turned a pie plate upside-down, stuffed some of the Mylar streamers that I also used to fill the party balloons with, and put the cake on that and then put that on top of a glass lazy susan.  It was helpful for frosting but also was a perfect way to serve it.

Halo-themed Grunt birthday party cake. Yup, that's pink bubblegum flavored frosting. Headshot!

Halo-themed Grunt birthday party cake. Yup, that’s pink bubblegum flavored frosting. Headshot!

Some notes:

I tend to be very specific about what ingredients I use.  I do this in case I want to adjust the recipe or experiment with it later.  I also find that when recreating someone else’s recipes, it can make a difference what brands are used in getting similar final results.  if I don’t mention a brand then it was probably some cheap store brand or the “base model” brand.
I do not recieve compensation for linking to, using, or mentioning any brands.  I simply link to them to make it easy for you to know exactly what I’m using and help you to locate where it’s sold in case you’d like to try it.

t: little “t” is a teaspoon. ’cause it’s cute and little
T: big “T” is a Tablespoon. ’cause he’s the big brother
C: Cup

Look at the Rest of the Party!

Filling the Balloons

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One response »

  1. Pingback: Filling Party Balloons | Enchanted Daisy

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