Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pussycat cake

It's my middle girl's 8th birthday next week, and we are having her slumber party here this weekend. So in preparation, last night we had our now-traditional cake decorating evening with our wonderful friend K - a tradition that started 3 years ago now when my eldest put in her request for the periodic table of the elements cupcakes for her science party. (And what a production that was!) We've since made love heart cakes, Dorothy the Dinosaur, a butterfly cake, a flower cake, and a ringtail possom cake.

This time, Miss almost-8 requested a cat cake, which, on the scale of difficulty, is at the modest end.  I made 2 round gluten free vanilla cakes - one large, one small - and we got to work.

First, we cut up the smaller cake to form ears, a raised nose and raised whiskers. There was plenty of small cake left, which was put aside for lunchbox treats for the rest of the week. (Carving the cake was made easier because we had frozen it; this is highly recommended for any cake design that will involve carving or slicing).

Next, we made a lot of buttercream icing and liberally smothered the cat with it. I make my buttercream with icing sugar, margarine and a little hot water; I think it comes out nicer than adding milk, and has a richer taste.

It also helps because one of my kids is mildly dairy intolerant, so I keep milk products as minimal in my baking as possible.

To cover this cake, I used 2 full packets of iciong sugar and probably 6-8 tablespoons of margarine.

During this process, of course, there was plenty of snacking - on cake leftovers, icing bowl remnants and then on fondant as we moved into the colouring phase. Whenever we're going to do a cake, I never give the kids dessert after dinner or anything sweet after school - I know they are going to fill up on baking stuff and that's part of the fun of it :-)

Next came colouring and rolling out the fondant. For this I use Orchard White Icing, which is a gluten free packet brand you can get in the supermarket. We always use K's colour gels for this stage and wear disposable gloves to knead the colour through (it does stain hands and clothing otherwise). The kids all enjoy the process of mixing the colours, and K is extremely patient with them as they work their fingers in the stiff fondant.

Both the elder two had a go of rolling out this time too, which they thought great. K got the grey base coat applied and our cat was really starting to look like a cat!

Finally, as I took Miss 4 off to bed, the elder two worked with K to create and apply all the details. By the time I emerged from settling Miss 4, our pussycat had whiskers, pink ears and a smile, and shortly thereafter, pretty green eyes and a little nose.

We think it looks great and the birthday girl is thrilled, which is the main objective!