The Little Rocker turned two on September 15th (I know this has taken a while to post). We waited until Sukkot to do the party for her because then we had vacation from work. There is nothing the Little Rocker likes more that Elmo, except for maybe Winnie the Pooh. So I decided to be really organized and I bought an Elmo shaped cake pan off Amazon.com while we were in America this summer.
Because we were going to be at the in-laws in Jerusalem for the holidays, and they don’t have a kitchen-aid, I knew that I was going to have to prepare all the components of this cake a week ahead of time. So while Rocker Dude was off doing his radio show (www.rock4rookies.com) I made a basic yellow cake and a whole batch of white buttercream icing. In order to make sure that I had enough of each color I decided to tint the icing right before using.
The pan came with recipes for both the cake and the icing (Wilton’s standard recipes for yellow cake and buttercream icing), but I decided to use recipes that I had used before and was successful with.
So with everything successfully transported to Jerusalem on a bus with the Little Rocker (not an easy feat I assure you), we were ready to begin.
The party was planned for Monday evening. So on Monday morning, I took out my Elmo cake and put it on a tray.
Then I took some white icing and covered the eyes. Then added two mini-York Peppermint Patties for eyes.
Next step, the nose. I mixed a small amount of icing with two orange drops of orange gel food coloring and one drop of red gel food coloring.
The mouth was a little harder because I had to use a lot of black food coloring to get it so dark. It was only afterward that I remembered that the best way to make black icing is to start with chocolate icing and then tint that with the black food coloring. I decided to pipe in the mouth instead of spreading it with a spatula because I wanted to make sure to get the detail of the fur around the edges. Smile Elmo!
Then the hard part – little red stars all around the cake. This icing was tinted with three drops of red gel food coloring and one drop of orange gel food coloring. It was a bit tedious and my hand started cramping in the middle, but as the icing warmed up a bit, it flowed a lot easier and it moved faster. There was an option to just smear the icing on top of the cake with little peaks to represent the fur, but as I have not done a lot of cake decorating, I wanted to push myself all the way.
And then it was done! Into the fridge for a few hours until the party, and out it came again. We sang “Happy Birthday,” though the Little Rocker was too amazed by an Elmo cake to really care, and then we had to cut into it.
It kind of makes me think about the transient nature of so many things in life, here one minute and gone the next. It was good though, and everyone was suitably impressed.
Basic Yellow Cake (from The Perfect Cake by Susan G. Purdy) makes 2 8 or 9-inch round pans or one sheet pan:
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Coat the cake pan with nonstick spray (if you are using a shaped pan, then do an extra coat). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until soft and smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
With the mixer on a low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in the vanilla.
Pour the batter into the pan(s). For the Elmo size cake pan, bake for about 80 minutes. Cool the cake on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Even off the top of the cake so that the shape won’t fall apart when you invert it (this is only for the Elmo pan). Invert the cake onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
This cake freezes really well.
All Purpose Frosting (from The Perfect Cake by Susan G. Purdy) makes 3 cups frosting:
1/3 cup unsalted butter or margarine
pinch of salt
1 tsp. flavoring extract (I used vanilla)
4 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
5 tbsp. milk, or as needed
In a mixer, cream the butter or margarine really well (this is really important). Beat in the salt and the flavoring. With the mixer on the lowest speed, beat in the sugar and milk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat on high until creamy. Add more milk as necessary to achieve a spreading consistency.
This icing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature and whip smooth before using.
To make Elmo:
Tint 1/2 cup icing black.
Tint 1/4 cup icing orange/red (small amount)
Leave 1/2 cup icing white
Tint whatever is left red/orange (small amount)
Using a spatula, cover the eyes with white icing. You can either use chocolates as the eyes, or use some black icing.
Also with a spatula, ice the nose with the orange icing.
Using Wilton tip 3 with black icing, outline and fill the mouth (and pupils).
Using Wilton Star tip 16, cover the rest of the face with little stars of the red icing.
Rest your hand often.