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Car cake

When you realize that the name day of your son is tomorrow and you do not have a cake to celebrate with him what do you do? The quick solution is to buy a cake, but with this lockdown, it was not an option for me. I had then to postpone the celebration a bit and bake a cake for my little angel when I could.
Before starting, I showed my little son some cake designs for boys and he pointed me one that he liked. It was not an easy one but it was a challenge for me to try something new.
For the composition of the cake, I went for a simplified version of my previous Bunny cake. I knew then how to do it, so the steps were straightforward. What I didn't know, was how to make those cars, a plane, a road and a traffic light from sugar paste.
I did then my homework, find some shapes, and cut them in paper with an Exacto knife. I put those shapes over a stretched sheet of sugar paste and cut around with the same knife. Colors were of my own choice. Near me, of course, my son and my daughter were active participants. My daughter took the wheels of the cars in black sugar paste and she did them with the help of some coins or other round shapes. My son, well, he was extremely curious about what his mother and sister were doing. He was there to observe and to give a Wow, mommy, this is a car... it is a tractor, it is a bus... with an enthusiasm that you'll only find when you have his age. Of course, from time to time, a little piece of sugar paste was disappearing on his tongue but well... this was the whole fun right? 
In this way, we spend some beautiful hours on a Sunday afternoon and finally, the cake was ready. Almost ready, because mommy had to take a photo of it. And that time was felt way longer than the entire afternoon of doing all the decorations :D . 
The big moment arrived, we put 2 candles on the cake, sang the classic song, and let the kids blow the candles. After that, there was a small discussion about, who would eat the traffic light and who would eat the tree, who would eat the red car and who the blue one. When this problem was solved, the kids were quietly enjoying their piece of cake.
Yep, another beautiful day spent with kids has passed, and the image of the cake will remain in their memories. So yes, it worth every minute to do the cake... because happiness is not about the end result but it is about the journey.

Ingredients:

Sponge for 1 tall cake of 15cm:

  • 6 eggs (whites and yolks separated)
  • 200g flour
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
Filling (Swiss buttercream):

  • 5 egg whites
  • 450g butter (at least 80% fat)
  • 250g sugar
  • food colorant (optional)

+ 300g sugar paste (this is just for decoration purposes, the cake is not filled in in sugar paste)

+ food coloring for decorations in sugar paste

+ 1 tablespoons rum essence to moist the sponge cake layers


Directions:

You can prepare the sponge cake in advance. 

  1. Prepare the baking pan by buttering it on all the sides or use parchment paper so the cake does not stick to it. I also use wet bake strips outside the pan when baking, to get the cake flat but this totally optional. If you do not use it, you get a bump in the middle of the sponge cake, which is very easy to cut. Put the pan aside, turn on the oven at 180ºC to preheat, and let's start the composition. 
  2. Beat the egg whites until the foam is raised. I use a standing mixer on a high speed but a hand mixer is fine as well.
  3. Add the sugar and continue to beat the egg whites. It takes some minutes of beating until the foam is glossy and has stiff peaks.
  4. In another bowl, mix the egg whites with olive oil.
  5. Go back to your beaten egg whites and pour the yolks over them. 
  6. Turn the mixer on its lowest speed to combine them gently. At this stage, mix it as less as you can.
  7. Sift the flour and baking powder.
  8. Add these dry ingredients, one spoon at a time, over the egg composition, and mix on the lowest speed just until they are combined. To be sure that you minimize the movements at this stage you can also do this step by hand. I am the kind of person who likes to minimize the time and effort, so I prefer to do everything in the mixer if possible. So, I mix just until the flour is incorporated.  
  9. Pour the composition into the baking pan and level it with the spatula on top.
  10. Bake it at 180ºC for 35 minutes. Every oven is different so do not take this timing by the book. Test your cake with a wooden stick in the center, and if it gets out dried then it is baked.
  11. Take the sponge cake out of the oven, let it cool for 20 minutes in the pan, and just after, remove it from the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

Prepare the Swiss buttercream:

  1. Put the egg whites and sugar in a bowl that is heat resistant because you'll need to put them later on a bain-marie. I use the stainless steel bowl of the mixer that I put over a pan on which I added some water. The water in the pan should not touch the bowl with the eggs and sugar.
  2. Turn on the heating for this bain-marie system and mix the eggs with a whisk. The composition needs to reach 70ºC and in the meantime, the sugar will be already dissolved. Use a food thermometer to measure the temperature of the eggs.
  3. Then, remove the bowl from the hot pan and put it back at the mixer. Turn it on at a high speed and let it beat the meringue for a few minutes. 
  4. When the meringue is stiff, you'll need to add the butter, spoon by spoon, or piece by piece while continuing to mix. During the mixing, the temperature of the eggs is lowering but as I used the same metallic mixing bowl, the meringue will be ready before the egg whites arrive at room temperature. I use then, the butter that was taken out from the fridge just 10-15 minutes before (when I started the cream). But if you use another mixing bowl and your meringue arrived at room temperature when mixed, then is better to use the butter at room temperature not cold from the fridge. The butter needs to be added cube by cube (let's say of 2cm size) or spoon by spoon depending on its form. What is happening when you add the butter is that the meringue will lose its nice stiff shape, but just continue to mix as it will come back. If it doesn't (because maybe your butter or meringue was too warm), put your bowl in the fridge for a few minutes, and restart the mixing. Ideally, if both meringue and butter are at room temperature the cream gets very nice.
  5. Add some food coloring and mix just a little to combine it.
Assembling of the cake:
  1. Cut the cake into horizontal layers. I cut mine into 5 layers. 
  2. Prepare now a liquid made from 500ml of water and 2 tablespoons of rum essence. You can add also 2 tablespoons of sugar if you like it sweeter, but I didn't. You'll use this to moist your sponge cake layers.
  3. Take now the main cake and put the first layer on a round paper cake board that fits the size of your cake. I assembled the layers on top of a lazy Susan so I do not have to turn myself around the cake.
  4. On top of your first layer, pour 5 tablespoons of water with rum to get your cake moist.
  5. Cover the sponge cake layer with buttercream with the help of a knife.
  6. Take another layer from the sponge cake, put it on top, and repeat the same steps as you did for the first layer: moist, then cover with cream. You'll do this until you finished all the layers. 
  7. When the layering is done, the outside look needs to be done as well. Using a special spatula for leveling, or a big knife or a dough knife, level the cake on the sides and on top. The idea is to cover the sponge cake layers completely and shape the cake nicely and smoothly. 
  8. Put the cake in the fridge to get cold and prepare for decorations. 
  9. Prepare now the decorations of the road, cars, traffic light, plane, clouds and so on. Here you can get as creative as you can be with the tools and colors you have available. 





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