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Blog Archive - February 1, 2012

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February 1, 2012 - Star Cake
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I can't believe that it's taken this long for me to make a cake in this shape - a star. I had a perfect excuse this week, as our nanny was celebrating her birthday. I had to come up with a cake to both wish her a happy birthday and to let her know how great she is with our daughter. So, Kelly, here's to you:

Star Cake

To make this cake, you'll need a Cake-Shaping Strip (look here about how to make one), heavy-duty aluminum foil, a sheet pan, prepared cake batter (see the Crushed Pineapple Cake recipe below or use about 1 box of cake mix), white frosting (see the Cream-Cheese Buttercream Frosting recipe below or use about 2 (16-ounce) containers of store-bought chocolate frosting), food dye, and coconut.

First, make a Cake-Shaping Strip as described here using seven sushi-mat segments. Line a sheet pan with two sheets of aluminum foil. Shape the strip into a shape of a star (see below). This was actually trickier than I thought that it would be, as it's hard to make all five points roughly the same size and to make the "lines", that invisibly extend through the center of the star, straight. So I'd recommended taping together a few sheets of paper, drawing your star, cutting it out, and then bending your strip around your star. Then remove the paper before adding the cake batter. Also, consider not making it completely symmetrical. Maybe you'd enjoy a start with a slightly bent top point.

Then wrap your aluminum foil around your strip. You'll probably need to cut it to do this. Specifically, cut the foil from an edge towards the point-meeting corners. This will let you wrap the foil around each point. Also, add a couple of strips of foil under any given point not sufficiently covered by the base foil layers, and wrap those around those points. Finally, you can press loosely packed, small balls of foil into any areas still needing some extra leak-proof protection. Here's what I ended up with:

Star Cake

Now prepare your cake batter. I was looking for a nice, yellow/gold cake recipe, to go along with the gold star that I was making. A recipe that my dad made when I was growing up came to mind. Now, my dad barely cooks toast for himself. But, on occasion, he's inspired to make something fancy. I recall that one day, the entire family was shoo'ed out of the kitchen, while my dad was going to make a special dish that he had come up with. It was delicious. And I later found out that the recipe was unbelievably simple. Essentially, he made a cake using yellow cake mix. He drained a can of crushed pineapple, keeping the juice. Then he substituted the water called for on the box with an equal amount of juice (otherwise making it as directed) and stirred in the drained pineapple into the prepared batter. So there was my inspiration for this cake. I figured out that it can be made even easier, as dumping in the whole can of pineapple seems to work out just fine, instead of separating the can into juice and pineapple first and then measuring juice amounts. Here's an unbelievably moist, flavorful and easy cake recipe:

Crushed Pineapple Cake
Ingredients:
1 box yellow cake mix (or white cake mix)
3 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 (20-ounce) can of crushed pineapple
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut, optional

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a pan with cooking spray.

2. Beat the cake mix, eggs, oil and crushed pineapple. If desired, fold in coconut.

3. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

4. Bake for about 30 minutes or until done.

*****

I contemplated not even decorating this cake, as I thought that it was beautiful and golden already.

Star Cake

However, I felt compelled to decorate it to properly dedicate it to Kelly. I opted to use the same frosting recipe as in my last blog, as I thought the cream-cheese flavor would go well with the pineapple. I also added a little bit of coconut extract to further complement the pineapple. Here's the frosting recipe again.

Cream-Cheese Buttercream Frosting
Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
16 ounces (2 blocks) cream cheese, softened
2 pounds (1 bag) powdered sugar

Instructions:
1. Beat together the softened butter ad softened cream cheese in a large mixing bowl.

2. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar.

*****

I separated about 1 cup of the frosting and dyed it red, and I separated another cup and dyed it blue. Then I dyed the rest gold (by combining a lot of yellow food dye and a little orange dye). After I settled on a decorating approach, it went very quickly. Mainly because this approach did not require obtaining a smooth frosting layer. Rather, most of the cake was easily "textured."

First, frost the cake with a medium-thick layer of gold frosting. Place a flat edge of an icing spatula on the surface of the frosting and lift it up to create a wave. Repeat this over the entire cake. Next, using an icing spatula, smooth out the frosting a center square of the cake. If needed, refrigerate the cake until the frosting is completely dry. Then dip a table knife in warm water, and smooth out any wrinkles in the middle square.

This center square is for your piping. Pipe on your dedications. I used both red and blue piping to add a bunch of color to the cake. For a little extra "tropical taste", carefully sprinkle shredded coconut around the square, or just sprinkle it all over the cake.

Star Cake
Star Cake

And, Dad - thanks for the recipe. It was delicious.

Pineapple Cake

 

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