Sunday, June 6, 2010

mini cooper cake

My friend from book club has two girls, the younger of whom just turned two. I don't know how it came to be, but she has a fascination for Mini Coopers. So her mom asked if I could make a cake with a Mini Cooper on the top, similar to the one I made for my son. (Come to think of it, that was for his 2nd birthday. Aah, two-year-olds and their cars...)

I sculpted his car out of cake, but to make a reasonable facsimile of a Mini, I worried I would need more control over the shape and features of the car than I could accomplish with cake. Perfect opportunity to try my hand at sculpting Rice Krispie Treats! If you get 'em while they're hot, RKT are easy to mold into whatever general shape you want. They set quickly, so you have to move pretty fast, and then you let them sit overnight to really firm up. A thin layer of buttercream smooths out the surface, and then you can cover it with fondant and decorate any way you like.

I am definitely a novice at this, but it was easier than sculpting with fondant alone, which has all sorts of other issues to be discussed at another time. Most importantly, the cake came out really cute, and when the birthday girl saw it, she immediately (and without prompting) cried out, "Mini!" That's all the thanks I needed!

See the RKT underneath? I used two flat bars to raise the car up so I could fit the wheels in. Next time, maybe I'll cover them in fondant to make them blend in better. I carved out some wheel wells so the fondant-covered Oreo tires could set in, underneath the car. Tres realistic!

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.
Personalized plates.

JustJenn was a great resource for a new vanilla cake recipe (I've gotten kind of tired of my standby cake). Hers was delicious: neither dry nor dense and heavy, and just the right amount sweet. Thanks, Jenn! I used more salt and more vanilla, so I'll reflect those changes below. I frosted it with vanilla buttercream except for the road, which was store-bought black frosting. I hate making black frosting. And this special decorating tip makes piping grass a breeze.

Vanilla Cake (adapted slightly from JustJENN)
Makes one (thin) 9x13 layer and I'd guess about 24 cupcakes

2 3/4 cups (11 5/8 ounces) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Line pan with parchment paper or line tin with cupcake papers.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Add the vanilla to the milk. Beating the butter mixture on low, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, starting and ending with flour. Beat until just combined, scrape down the sides, and beat for another few seconds. Pour the batter into the pan (or cupcake tin). Bake about 35 minutes for the cake, and about 15 minutes for cupcakes. To test, lightly press the cake with your fingertips. If it springs back, they are done.

For cakes, I like to let them cool for about 10 minutes and then turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. For cupcakes I prefer to remove them almost immediately to a cooling rack to prevent them from getting tough on the bottom. Frost and enjoy! Almost any frosting would complement a nice, basic recipe like this one.


Sandra Dee said...

First - just awesome!

Second - LOVE your pics - the closeups are terrific.....

meredith said...

all the details are great, especially the personalized plates!!