Sunday, March 27, 2016

Cresting the Hill...

There's nothing quite like trying to age gracefully (and quietly) while your loved ones refuse to let that happen. This is precisely why my 29th birthday was the final celebration to ever be held on record for the rest of my life (I refuse to acknowledge January 7th from here on out. Find me in the bottom of a wine cask when the next one rolls around). There does seem to be a bit of a double standard with age. Ladies, say goodbye to your looks, gravity-defying cleavage, and ability to wear leggings as pants (I would argue this isn't acceptable past age 6 anyway). Gentlemen, say hello to becoming a silver fox, getting to wear suave suits, and having young hot blondes with daddy issues heading your way. If I can't come back as a man in my next life, I'm at least going to aspire to break the standard and age a la Helen Mirren or Jessica Lange. Most birthdays are anticipated, especially the big ones: 16, 18, 21, 25 (what, being able to rent a car is legit). An inevitable ball starts rolling really freaking fast after 25 though. I'm now beginning to regularly celebrate all my friends turning 30. And here I am still thinking a decade ago is 1996. Since I can't turn back time, I guess I'll slather on the wrinkle cream, look up Botox costs, and continue to celebrate the slow decline to death with all my friends. You can take my wrinkle-free skin, but you can never take my cake.
Caution, old man off-roading!
So the first of many triple decade survival parties kicked off this past weekend, and I was commissioned to make the cake. This celebration was actually for my husband's husband, who is quite jovial and young at heart (read: a pilot). I'd like to make note here that his girlfriend actually requested the hot pink Jeep. I'm a huge fan of sarcastic cakes, so naturally I jumped at the chance to make an off-roading-gone-wrong cake for an old man and Jeep enthusiast...but that's probably a redundant descriptor. Of course I made the Guinness cake, but since everyone's Irish around Saint Patrick's Day, I couldn't find regular Guinness anywhere. People really like chewing their beer this time of the year, I suppose. I had no choice but to try this cake out with what I assume is an even thicker, chewier (think taffy-like) Guinness: Guinness Extra Stout. I smelled this stuff and immediately did not regret the decision to skip drinking for Lent. But since cake is something you actually are supposed to chew, I was hoping for promising results.
Pictured: Ingredients. In their final form.
I know, I always take a photo of my ingredients, and technically I have done just that. Follow the link above for the full recipe and instructions. Know to make a 9x13 cake that you will need to double the recipe for the cake and line your pan with Parchment paper sprayed with Pam (this is a heavy cake, and you want to remove it easily from the pan without breaking). In this case, I substituted the regular Guinness with the Stout Guinness. This COMPLETELY altered the taste of the cake. I honestly didn't think such a small change would make such a big difference, but it really did. The regular Guinness yields a nice and milk chocolatey cake. The Stout Guinness yields a nice and DARK chocolatey cake. I have to go on record here and say dark chocolate is the most underrated of chocolates, and it is a damn shame. Milk chocolate is sweet and willing to please everyone like a doormat. White chocolate is a total imposter. Dark chocolate is suave and sophisticated like the James Bond of chocolates--he's mysterious and sexy, but not for everyone. Everyone still ate the hell out of this cake whether they liked dark chocolate or not, so credit the complimenting and ever-so-sweet Baileys frosting for doing its job.
Speaking of frosting!
I made a LARGE amount of frosting since I knew the cake was going to need several different frosting colors. If you're also making a crashed Jeep cake to poke fun at your friend's failing eyesight due to the aging process, gather up the following ingredients and laugh at what a strange and unlikely coincidence this is:
  • 1 1/2 sticks of room temp butter
  • 1 cup of Crisco
  • 6 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of CLEAR vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons of Baileys (either regular or caramel)
Once your cake is cooked and fully cooled, cream the butter and Crisco together for a few minutes. Then add in 3 cups of sugar, the extract, and 2 tablespoons of Baileys. Blend on low for a moment until the sugar mixes in and bump up the speed. Scrape the bowl then add in the remaining 3 cups of sugar and 2 tablespoons of Baileys. Crumb coat your cake and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. While that's taking place, prepare for the crappiest of photo montages!!
I needed quite a few colors and tips for this cake. My friends better be glad there's nothing I won't do when it comes to cake.
  •  I used open star tips to decorate my Jeep. I used a small amount of frosting dyed hot pink and placed in a bag with a #16 tip. I used a small amount of black dye and placed in a bag with a coupler and a #18 tip. You'll also need a small round open tip to write which is why you need a coupler. I used a #3 tip for this.
  • For my smoke and boulder, I dyed frosting gray using a small amount of black dye into the plain white frosting. The boulder frosting is on the far right. I used a 1A round tip for this and a #12 tip with a coupler for my smoke cloud. I used a #16 tip for the Jeep windows, so the coupler is needed here.
  • I left a small amount of frosting dyed blue for my sky in a bowl and set aside.
  • I left a larger amount of frosting dyed tan for my ground and sides of the cake in a bowl (Tupperware, whatevs) and set aside.
  • I finished up by dying my remaining frosting green and placing in a bag with a grass tip. I believe mine is a #239.
Once my crumb coat was frozen, I SLOWLY and carefully frosted my backdrop: blue sky on top, tan ground on bottom. I placed in the freezer for 30 more minutes to set. Then I used the paper towel trick to smooth out the tops and sides of the cake. Be careful when smoothing in the middle so the colors don't bleed onto each other.

In all my years (two of them) of cake decorating, I have found the most versatile of cake decorating tools is the toothpick. I used one to draw out the grisly scene: hot pink Barbie jeep meets boulder. I also decided the wheels needed to be made of Oreos! I know, I'm brilliant. They're nice and nubby and mimic a Jeep wheel while not wasting any of my limited black frosting. Kate Bakes Cakes: cutting corners since 2014. If ever I make business cards...

You'll notice I sketched this cake out in advance. Quite obvious I'm an English teacher by day now, isn't it?  I started off by piping the outline of my Jeep. I worked backwards since I'm a lefty and the world is against me.
Which makes piping messages suck super hard! I traded my open star tip for my #3 tip for this. I also used the open star tip to give the Jeep some tiny rims.

Then I filled in the fuschia!
I finished up the Jeep by tinting the windows. This way Ken, Barbie, I mean the birthday boy, wouldn't be seen crashing his beloved hot pink Jeep. The things we do for friends.

"I like that boulder. That is a nice boulder." -Donkey, probably. To make the boulder and smoke clouds, outline the area and then go back in and pipe large mounds inside the outline. Come back in and use the round tips to blend and give texture by simply swirling them around.

I piped a grass border around my entire cake with the grass tip. There's really no right or wrong way to do this. I came back in and piped some random grassy patches on the top of the cake as well. I had a small color bleed between the blue and tan border, so this was effective in hiding a mistake!
Okay, let's talk rock candy. Negative, let's talk candy rocks (this made a huge difference in my Amazon search for obvious reasons. Rock candy search results actually yielded Breaking Bad meth candy). These little dudes (the candy rocks, not the meth) are amazing! I bought a bag of these, and they are so tasty. Like an M&M in the shape of a rock! I don't know why this is so groundbreaking to me, but it is. I used them to complete my border.

Like so!
And there you have it: one snarky birthday cake made with a ton of love. Love meaning time and patience in this case. But the end result is always worth it to me when I see the face of the person receiving the cake. The moment the cake comes out of the box is pure gold to me and worth every hand cramp. Plus, I'm a compliment-gathering hussy, and a cake is a damn good way to garner some ego-boosting material. Because you know a cake is good when a room full of boisterous drunk people get really quiet while eating it. One party goer even waited until cake was served before he went home. Dedication! A few party goers discussed the regular vs. Stout Guinness cake varieties...there was a veritable debate for several minutes to decide which one was better. The ultimate verdict cannot be reached until I make a half Stout/half regular Guinness cake. I think my friends may be using me for my cake baking skills. It's good to be needed. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!!
Even the candles scream Barbie Jeep.

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