Tuesday, March 20, 2007
You can tell it's finals week around the StudentNurse household because a) I'm up late poring over my Pharmacology book, b) I'm obsessively making flashcards with which to quiz myself, c) I'm up at 2 AM making buttercream frosting for my son's birthday cake.
If you said c, you're right! Finals week is when the real baking begins. Ask a three-year-old (now four-year-old) what kind of cake he wants for his birthday and you get the above pictured cake: "I want dinosaurs and a volcano and I want Buzz Lightyear climbing the volcano and I want Buzz Lightyear to jump into the volcano..." and that's when I had to stop and tell him, "Honey," (and he said, "Call me pumpkin...") "the decorations on your cake are a snapshot in time. I don't have the technology and recipe to make the things move." OK, I made up the last part of the conversation, but, well, it's true. I can't animate buttercream. It's also true that I was up at 2 AM making it. And I would never in a million years make flashcards. That's just not how I study.
The best part of the cake, when I showed it to my little fella, was pointing out Buzz Light year. "hey, Pumpkin, what's that?" and he said, softly and - I'll admit - with a slight bit of awe - "That's Buzz Lightyear and the pterodactyl." (referring to the plastic pterodactyl stuck into the volcano) as if Buzz Lightyear and the pterodactyl is an already existing storyline. Heck, maybe it is.
The cake is actually two cakes and two different frostings. The base is a white sheet cake with a cream cheese frosting. The rocks are actually chocolate rocks (man, the kiddies LOVED that and they actually were tasty, too!). The volcano is a chocolate cake from The Cake Bible and the chocolate buttercream frosting from the same book (that stuff should be illegal it's so delicious). Gotta love finals week giving me the motivation to forgo studying in favor of baking!
Here's the white sheet cake recipe. I stole it from someone on Chowhound who says it's from the Barefoot Contessa:
2 1/4 sticks butter (softened)
3 cups sugar
6 extra large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 12x18 sheet pan and line the bottom with parchment. Butter and flour the parchment. I used a 15 x 13 inch pan and it turned out fine, but would probably be better (moister because I could bake it for less time) with the correct pan.
Sift flour, cornstarch, salt and soda. Cream butter and sugar until pale. Add eggs, then sour cream and vanilla. Mix well. On low speed slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix only until smooth. Pour into pan and bake 25-30 min until a toothpick comes out clean.