‘Darlin it’s hotta unda de wata! Under de sea!’ This year for her birthday my niece decided that she wanted a little mermaid themed cake and party. Auntie loves her nibblets so much that there was no way I could say no when asked to do the cake. Now I just wanted to prove to you guys that I can do more than slop icing on to a cake. 😉
My apologies for not taking step by step pictures, I was concentrating and trying to hurry a little so the camera slipped my mind. As I’ve stated before I mostly work with doctored up boxed mixes for my cakes, it just makes things a little easier. Here is how I doctor up my mixes.
•2 white boxed cake mixes (or your preferred flavor)
•2 cups milk (or the amount equivalent to the water called for in your boxed mixes)
•1 cup melted butter (or double the amount of oil called for in your mixes)
•2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring
•8 egg whites (or what your mix calls for plus one extra egg/egg white per box of mix)
•2 sticks of butter, softened but not runny
•2 pounds 10X confectioner’s/powdered sugar (icing sugar)
•2 tablespoons vanilla flavoring
•3-5 tablespoons milk or cream
• Wilton gel colors in desired colors (teal and rose shown)
• 3 (or more) bags of Wilton candy melts (bright white, pink, and yellow shown)
•Wilton candy molds
•freezer or decorating bags
•1-2 large mixing bowls
•1-2 small mixing bowls
•6 inch cake pans
•9 inch cake pans
•measuring cups and spoons
• off set spatula
Throughout the day I made the shells for the cake. Between other steps and during waiting periods I got them molded and unmolded. I placed a handful or two of two colors of Wilton candy melts or chocolate into a freezer bag and zapped everything in the microwave for 25 seconds. I then kneaded the bag a little to check how melted everything was. I zapped and kneaded three times total. I was careful to swirl the candy and not mix it completely. I snipped a small hole from one corner of the bag and squeezed the candy into the molds. After a quick tap onto the counter I placed the molds into the fridge to harden. Once they were firm I tapped and twisted the shells into a clean freezer bag.
For the cake mixes I used my largest mixing bowl and mixed up two boxed mixes and appropriate wet ingredients and used all 4 cake pans at once. Ideally you want to measure and/or weigh the batter to be sure that the batter is equal and one layer isn’t thicker than others. If your batter is thick take a small off set spatula or a fork and work the top of your batter even on top. I set my oven to 305 F instead of the 325 F called for on the box. I baked all four pans at once and checked the 6in pans at the 25 minute mark and left the 9in pans in for another 5-10 minutes. After they were done I flipped them onto cooling racks and waited until they were COMPLETELY COOL to even think about icing them.
While I was waiting for the cakes to cool I mixed up my icing. I creamed my butter for a few minutes before I started adding sugar. I just kind of dump 1/2 cup or so in at a time
(this is where my ‘southern cook’ shows through, I mix things around until it ‘looks right’). As I go I make sure I whip up my butter cream really well after each addition of powdered sugar. This helps in the end to make the icing more white without having to add an icing whitener. When things start getting too stiff I’ll add a little liquid after every few additions of powdered sugar. Once I had everything to the consistency I like, I scooped out a bunch to do the base icing. If you have never used gel coloring before, use it sparingly! Dip some out with a couple of tooth picks and mix your icing well before adding more. Repeat until desired color is achieved. I used Wilton teal gel coloring. I filled and stacked my 9 inch layers on my cake board and had them iced before filling and stacking my 6 inch layers on top. I spread and smoothed the icing with my 9 inch off set spatula. For a large cake like this it comes in handy to have a decorating turn table. They are small lazy Susans that make it easier to turn heavy cakes for decorating. I have a basic Wilton turn table. I used a border/star top and slowly piped on white shell borders at the bases and tops of both tiers. I also used some white icing to ‘glue’ the shells in place. Once I had all of the shells in place I mixed up a little Wilton rose pink and just wrote her name on the side of the cake and went around the 4 to hide where the white icing smooshed out. The cake hung out in my fridge over night and because it was about three inches too tall for my cake carrier I had to do the tooth pick and Saran-Wrap trick to transport it. I took a baggie full of teal icing so that once I got to the party I was able to snip off the corner and fill in the holes and smooth everything over with a butter knife.
My niece of course loved the cake and I managed to put enough candy shells that everyone got one with their slice. The flavor of the cake was reminiscent of angel food cake but it was the same texture as regular cake.