How fun! A cake that insults you on your birthday?!? Who wouldn't want one? Oh, you wouldn't? Well, I suppose that's because you don't have a playful sense of humor. Your loss....
I had a lot of fun making this cake. I might even venture to say I've never had more fun making a cake. And despite the few little upsets baking the cakes (more on that later), the cake weighted a billion pounds (give or take a few) and filled many bellies.
Three days before delivery: Baked two of the cakes. The recipe I used yielded a lot of batter. I was WAY surprised with how much I had left over and even happier when I realized that I was going to have to bake three layers instead of the typical two because these cakes didn't rise as much as I thought they would while baking. The next time I use this recipe, I will be filling the pan three quarters of the way full (I typically fill halfway).
Day Before Delivery: Since I had family over the weekend before delivering this, that's why I baked the cakes so far ahead of schedule. But don't worry, it wasn't a dry cake.
1) Made cream cheese icing, leveled cakes (I only had to cut the edges down), filled, crumb coated, set in the fridge, then applied the final layer of icing. After that I used a Wilton star tip (#18 to be exact) and piped a shell border on top and bottom of the cake.
2) Made some dirt. That was fun. Used some oreo cookies and my make-shift "food processor" and grinded them away. I made WAY more dirt than what I needed. I guess I got a little too excited.
3) Made a dirt bag. See the pictures below. I took a small piece of fondant and colored it brown. Then rolled it very thin (about 1/16 of an inch), and cut myself a rectangle. I wanted the "dirt bag" to have some movement to it, so I crumpled up some paper towels and laid the piece of fondant down to let it dry a bit.
4) Piped (part of) the message. However, if you notice I was a little careless. If you didn't notice, then you shouldn't try.
5) Finished the decorations. I did put some of the "dirt" under the dirt bag to give it some support to hold it's shape. But other than that, the rest was easy. I dumped a couple piles of dirt on the cake, commanded the bugs and snakes to get crawling, and then threw some dirt at the cake to make it look even more dirty. Making a cake...and then ruining it? Who wouldn't have fun doing that?
Chocolate Butter Cake
adapted from Sky High Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
This recipe will yield a 6-inch cake, but it would definitely be enough for an 8-inch cake or quite possibly one layer of a 1/4 sheet cake. For this cake, I used one recipe each of the 6-inch and 8-inch adaptations.
2 cups cake flour*
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, not Dutch process
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk**
1 cup water
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 6-inch square cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper. (I used Pam instead of a stick of butter.)
2) In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and buttermilk and blend on low until moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
3) Whisk the eggs and water together, and add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating only until blended after each addition. (Baker's note: REALLY scrape down the sides of the bowl. When I made the first batch of batter, I thought I was too good to have to scrape down the sides of the bowl. I was so wrong.) Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans; each 6-inch pan will take just slightly more than 2 cups.
4) Bake the layers for 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 15 minutes. Carefully turn them out onto wire racks and allow to cool completely. Remove the paper liners only when they are cool.
*Cake flour substitution: In a one cup dry measure, put in two tablespoons of corn starch, then fill the rest of the cup with all-purpose flour.
**I didn't have buttermilk, so I tried out this substitution. I don't think I'll ever buy buttermilk again. For each cup of buttermilk called for in a recipe, place 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a wet measure then fill with milk to the 1 cup line. Let sit for 5 minutes then use.