Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Thar She Bakes!

My husband and I love pirates...you know, the Old World, swashbuckling kind. I'm not sure why we have such an affinity for the pillaging and thievery of the pirates of yore what with him being in the military and me being a disgruntled humble teacher. Maybe it's the possibility of discovering treasure, sailing the open sea, making enemies walk the plank, or dying of scurvy because you didn't eat enough citrus fruits? It was just a simpler time, I suppose. Perhaps it's that my foul mouth would be lauded and probably reward me a pirate queenship? Wench be damned, clearly between my affinity for clever cursing, intelligence, and my hellbent desire for world domination I would be queen! In either case, we decided it was time to have a pirate-themed party. So we did just that last Saturday...had I known people were going to take the theme so literally though (things were set on fire...kitchens were pillaged), perhaps I would've hosted an English high tea party instead. Sit quietly in the dining room, discuss the dreary weather, and part ways in under an hour. My kind of party! But since my husband and our friends have a much wilder (read: normal) streak than I do, pirate action was bound to happen. Supply anyone with punch, copious amounts of rum, and a treasure chest full of beer and they're going to go overboard in more ways than one. I wouldn't call it a total failure though (rest in peace, patio furniture) because there was cake. Pretty much the only reason I ever go to a party is because I am looking for an excuse to bake, decorate, and share the fruits of my labor with my friends. Once the dessert has been eaten, I tend to sail the high seas back to my own humble estate in the Land of Introvertia. But I do really love a good costume party, so I went full speed ahead with both costume and cake. I had the biggest pirate hat at the party which naturally meant I was in charge. "(S)he who wears the largest hat commands the most men." -Old Pirate Proverb I just made up. Clearly I had to let me mateys eat cake to keep any attempts at a mutiny at bay.
This is the pinnacle of my cake baking...my white whale, if you will.
It took me seven hours to make this cake from start to finish, but a lot of that was waiting for various frosting layers to freeze before recoating. Either way, this was not a cake for the faint of heart. Even with several years (yes, all two of them) of baking and decorating under my belt I still wanted to jump ship (ha!) about halfway through. But like the most determined of pirates on a quest for whatever it was pirates quested for (I assume rum), I persevered and found me treasure (pirate slang for finishing the cake). Was it worth it? Well, I had decorated the house so well for this party some people thought this was another decoration and didn't even realize it was a cake. The best of pirates are able to pull trickery and slight of hand, so I once again assume I'd make a great one. But if you're up for a quest besieged with wit and cunning and dastardly skill, you can make this pirate cake, too. I will warn ye scurvy dog that this makes a ton 'o cake. Seriously...enough to feed 25 drunk pirates with the bow leftover for you to eat the following day while you contemplate why your floors are so sticky and whether or not there will ever be enough swabbing the deck with a Swiffer to make it better. OCD introverts should never throw parties.
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...
Catchy theme song lyrics aside, really, follow me on this one--you're gonna spend a literal boatload of time decorating this cake. You deserve to cheat and make it from the box. Especially since you need to make two cakes for the one ship. I have found in my multiple (still just two) years of serious baking that Betty Crocker is the best cake mix to doctor when you're feeling lazy. This is going to be a very crummy (as in crumbs, not crappy) cake, so I recommend using chocolate with chocolate frosting to conceal a lot. I made one cake at a time using my cake jacking method: add an extra egg, sub milk for the water, and sub butter for the oil and double the amount. Make sure you are using all room temp ingredients for best blending! Follow box directions to blend. Place each cake into a greased 9x13 pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes or until done. Let rest in the pan for 10 minutes before turning each cake onto its own pan lined with non-stick foil. Place in the freezer to cool and harden to make for easier cutting later.
You didn't think this would be booze free, did you?
A pirate's cake requires a bit 'o grog. In this case, Salted Caramel Baileys. I used my favorite chocolate buttercream recipe, but since this is a huge cake, I doubled the recipe and used almost ALL of the frosting. I also substituted the Baileys for the heavy cream; if serving to child pirates, I'd skip that step. If you want to create "waves" around your cake, add the cocoa powder LAST so you can take a decent glob of white frosting to do so before you turn it chocolate with the powder. Once your frosting is made and the cakes are mostly frozen, prepare ye knife fer stabbin'!
And prepare for a crappy photo montage!
 First, level each cake. Then cut each cake into a 6x13 rectangle. Be sure to save all your scraps as you'll use most of them!
Place your first 6x13 rectangle onto a large cake board and place a glob of frosting on top. Adjust and center the other 6x13 rectangle on top of this.

Then simply trim the front end of the ship (or bow as we pirates call it) to get a nice shape.

There will be crumbs. So many crumbs. So don't skip the crumb coat step. Place into the freezer to set along with all the other cake scraps (this will help when you need to frost them in a moment). Give this step about 30 minutes.

You're going to need cake dowels for masts and to keep the cake from falling apart. Now take one scrap and place at the ship's bow. Trim the sides to even it up with the rest of the front and then coat with a layer of frosting (not pictured). Here's the tricky part: take a scrap and place it evenly with the back of the ship (stern, ye plebeian). Ensure the edges are even with the rest of the ship's body/hull; now take another scrap and cut it so it is even with this piece. Place one of these scraps on the stern and frost all sides of this layer. Then take the other scrap you cut and place it slightly to the back of the piece you just frosted.This will create a ledge and cool overhang. Give this a layer of frosting. Trim down two dowels so they will fit flush with the top layer (I hadn't trimmed mine yet in this picture). Place dowels in the left and right sides of this piece.
Don't worry, we'll make it pretty later I promise. Put this in the fridge (my freezer was NOT tall enough for this) to set for a half hour.

Add one final coat of frosting, but I promise this layer will be 10,000 times easier than the crumb coating of all those nooks and crannies.

To create a wooden plank look, take a fork to the side of the cake immediately after you've added the final layer of frosting and slowly rake it down the length of the cake. Repeat all over. You can come back in and remove some of the larger chunks of frosting by hand.
But this really gives off a cool effect, so don't skip this step. It is probably the easiest part of the cake!! Place in the fridge while you make the masts!
I grabbed a couple of sheets of scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby for this. I trimmed them down to medium squares and punched one hole in the top and bottom of each piece.
Then I slid them onto a cake dowel. The decorating gods were kind to me here--the hole punch was the exact same size as the dowels, so no crying or extra work was required here.
I then measured out all sides of my cake and came back in and drew the correct sizes of railings onto a sheet of Parchment paper. Don't forget to flip this over! Don't want people eating Sharpie marker with a side of frosting. Unless you're trying to sneakily poison your guests like a true pirate.

Melt half a bag of chocolate melts (I used mint, went great with the frosting). Place the melted chocolate into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip (I used a #3). Let this cool off for about 5 minutes to make piping manageable.

Then come back in and pipe over your lines! This is so easy when you've got something to trace, I promise. Let this set for about 15 minutes at room temp.
Finally, an excuse to use more Pirouettes.
Remember at the beginning of this tutorial (yes, still the same blog post and everything) when I told you to save some frosting before you added cocoa powder? That's finally where this comes in. I wanted a swirl of color, so I placed some of the plain white frosting into a piping bag and then dyed the rest blue before placing into another piping bag. Snip the tips and place both bags into a third bag with a #21 tip attached. Then take your remaining chocolate frosting and place into another bag with a #21 tip.
Take the cake out of the fridge and pipe a shell border on the edges like I did here. This creates a platform for your railings! And it makes things look pretty. I love a functioning twofer.
You can chop one Pirouette in half and place each one end-side-out in the side of the cake to create cannons. You'll need one more half of a Pirouette to complete the trifecta. I piped a circle around them to keep them in place.

Add a final full Pirouette to the front of the cake and then add each mast in (wait to do this until you're ready to serve unless you have a tall enough fridge to fit it). Gently add each railing into the piped shells, and you've got a completed pirate ship!!

But I wanted cool waves. I just piped a trail of shells down the side and back of the cake. I used blue on top of the bag for most and white on top for the back to create a cool wake-like effect. Did I take pictures of that? No. Because I had been on my feet for seven hours and simply forgot. I now understand the phrase "being dead on your feet" quite well.
So we lost a patio chair and I was reminded drunk people can't be entrusted with nice things, but they will totally eat all your spread of crab dip, a veggie tray with a bell pepper octopus, deviled egg pirate ships, seaweed wraps, and other various piratey foods (including and not limited to a bowl full of lemons to prevent scurvy). They'll also politely beg you to cut into your damn cake already because they might die if you don't. And then a hush will fall over your entire house as a bevy of swashbuckling pirates fill their mouths o' plenty with delicious cake. I will say this doctored Betty Crocker cake combined with the Salted Caramel Baileys was absolute nirvana. It was the "Calgon, take me away!" moment I so desperately needed thanks to the level of discomfort my pirate boots were causing me. I literally wanted to chop my feet off, so now I totally get the benefits of being a pirate with a peg leg (wooden leg, still more comfortable than 6-inch stiletto boots). 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
I would definitely walk the plank if cake was involved.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave me some love, some advice, tell me the meaning of life...whatever you fancy! You don't have to have a Blogger account, you can leave a comment by clicking "Anonymous" in the "Comment As" box..but if you're not a troll, leave me your name after your comment so I know who said what!