The middle kid turned six on Thursday. Andre (his name as you can tell from the cake) was a very difficult cake "client". Usually, weeks before my kids' birthday, I would ask them what they would want for their cake; flavors, fillings, how many layers, things like that. But Andre, oh boy, he had very specific instructions on how he wanted his birthday cake to look like.
Andre originally wanted a "river cake" (which for the life of me or my husband had no idea how he got this idea) with fishes, turtles and a waterfall. First thing I thought: Uh oh, I'm in trouble! How am I going to make all these things with icing and frosting?!? Looked all over for gummi fish but can only find gummi bears and gummi worms. A last minute visit to a cake supply store got me those cute critters made out of royal icing you see on the cake. Of course, I had to consult my cake client first since these critters are found in the ocean and not the river. He liked the octopus and starfish so much, he decided to change it to an "ocean cake." (Whew!)
Oh, and he also wanted the cake to be vanilla (his favorite), frosted with whipped cream (his other favorite) and "square" (he meant a sheet cake). I was in trouble again since I don't have any sheet pans (I have tons of round pans in assorted sizes). Husband vetoed buying a pan since I used up all the cake budget on the decoration (those ocean critters cost about $.85 cents apiece -- super expensive!). So ended up just using my brownie pans. I placed 2 baked cake squares together side by side. The husband also had the idea of blue gelatin on top of cake to simulate water which was a very cool idea; it went so well with the whipped cream frosting just tinted blue and green.
It's a good thing I don't bake cakes professionally or this might have end up in Cake Wrecks!!! :)
White Sheet Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes two 9-by-9 squares (or one 12-by-18-inch sheet cake)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for baking sheet
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk
8 egg whites
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour pans and line with parchment paper; set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until just combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; set aside.
In another bowl, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 4 minutes. Do not overbeat. Gently fold a third of the egg-white mixture into the butter-flour mixture until combined. Gently fold in remaining egg-white mixture.
Transfer batter to prepared pans and smooth batter evenly with a spatula or back of a spoon. Transfer to oven and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes. Invert cake onto rack, then reinvert and let cool completely.
Whipped Cream Frosting2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup superfine sugar
blue and green food coloring
In a chilled bowl, beat cream and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add food color to desired shade.