Cake Baking

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

July 13, 2011

Levi's 4th Birthday Cake

Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Change is in the air, as it often is. I have been asked to bake a wedding cake.

I didn’t get nervous when asked. I got excited. I mean, downright giddy.

Two Saturdays past, Levi and I bought supplies which included:

  • Three piping bags,
  • Five tips,
  • Four 3″ cake pans,
  • Six cardboard rounds,
  • Yellow sprinkles,
  • Two sets of 4 pillars, and
  • One cake decorating book.

I came home, and I excitedly implored my husband to look at my new tools and check out my new manual. He giggled and teased at the role reversal. Somehow this, a potential paid endeavor, is easier to relate than the mundane daily nourishment I provide. I digress.

Cake baking sounds fun. Here’s the progress. The experiment before us: how to make a tiered cake. The commissioned cake is strawberry layered or vanilla with strawberry or raspberry sauce in between, and chocolate layered. Any combination of the flavors will do.

Last week, after I purchased above-mentioned items, I was going to bake it. But, the weekend (long four-day) got away from me. I was tired, exhausted, burnt out. The high point of last weekend? Cleaning my shower.

So, then we get to this weekend. What happens? It slips away. Sure, I accomplished things: made two batches of muffins using soured milk. Made 6 loaves of bread using up soured milk. Made four quiches using up soured cream. Notice a trend? And, then, I did the most amazing thing: I cleaned my kitchen. No, not a cupboard tear-out, remove expired things. Rather, it was a put the dishes away, keep the counters clean, clean more dishes endeavor. That kept me up to 1am Monday.

Monday night rolls around. No more excuses. Progress is desired. How will this experiment play out?

First, I measure out the ingredients. I already drew up a matrix of a double and tripled recipe, as it looks like to do this right I’d need about 30 cups of batter. I don’t want to make a tripled cake, so I settle on doubled. I measured out my 5 1/2 cups of flour, 4 cups sugar, 8 eggs, 4 sticks of butter (1lb), 1 1/2 cups milk, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 4 1/2 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt, and about 4 tsp lemon zest.

After I creamed the butter and sugar in my stand mixer, one thing became crystal clear: I did not have enough bowl space. So, I got out my trusty 13 qt bread bowl, and split the creamed butter and sugar, adding half the flour in one and finishing when the first half is done. I folded the two halves together and I separated them into their respective pans: 8″, 10″, and 12″.

That did not look like enough batter, so I tried to ensure they were evenly spaced. Tuesday provided the layering.

Lessons Learned

  • Refrigerate frosting when it starts to get soft, and go ahead an refrigerate cake while frosting as needed. This means there needs to be enough room in the fridge.
  • Get the frosting spinner.
  • Need more cake rounds.
  • Don’t need the do-dad to swap tips. Do need cold frosting.
  • Make at least one cake recipe per pan and make cupcakes or similar with leftovers. Need to have the layered cake look. A flat, short cake is unappealing.
  • Bake in the middle, no more no less. There are variances in the oven. Utilize the “okay to freeze cake” concept.
  • Frost the cake on the spinner thing.
  • Bamboo skewers (pointy) do go through cardboard! Still need snippers.

The plan will be to make another cake this weekend. This time I will vary the flavors. I think I might have to invest in powdered sugar this summer!

Enter the summer of cake.

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  1. Lacy Cooper

    Check out Smitten Kitchen….she ended up making a super huge wedding cake in a tiny kitchen and she wrote a whole post on tips and such 🙂

    • Michelle

      Oh my goodness! This is the best:

      But I can see why cakes like these are generally made in professional kitchens, or at least large suburban ones. Each 12-inch cake layer was from a separate batch of batter (because uh, my KitchenAid doesn’t hold 21 cups!).

      Yea… great site.

  2. Olivia

    I have some round cake pans if you’d like to borrow them. Let me know! I can bring them to you tomorrow (if you let me know tonight or tomorrow early) or Sunday.

  3. Laura

    Super-power sugar?

    • Michelle

      Okay — Now it’s a super powered POWDERED sugar investment.

  4. Michelle

    As in super powers for cake making?

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