Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cat In The Hat Cake

Boy, did I have fun last weekend!  I was asked by one of my husband's co-workers if I could make her son a birthday cake for his fifth birthday...a five year old's birthday cake?!  I was feelin' the pressure.  She said that he likes "The Cat In The Hat", and especially likes Thing 1 and Thing 2.  I had to investigate because it was hard for me to remember what all the characters exactly looked like.  So, I got the book from the library and googled some images on the computer.  This cake definitely screams "The Cat In The Hat" AND Thing 1 and Thing 2!  What do you think?

I started by making some chocolate cookies to put on top of the cake.  I found some images on the computer and made them to the size I needed.  Then, I cut out the images and laid them on my rolled out cookie dough, and cut out the images with a knife and baked them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

The cookies look a little funny when they first come out of the oven, but they look great after being decorated.

Here are the ingredients you will need for the cake: pudding, cake mix, eggs, canola oil, sour cream, and chocolate chips

Dump the ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat on medium speed for three minutes.

Pour the batter into a 9x13 in. cake pan...

...and two nine in. round cake pans

While the cake is baking, make the royal icing for the cookies.  Sift the powdered sugar and add to the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add the meringue powder.

Then add the water.  Beat for seven to ten minutes.

I used a mustard and ketchup bottle to outline the cookies.  After outlining all the cookies, water down the icing to flood the middle.  Here's Thing 1 and Thing 2.

This is the fish in a teapot.

After the cakes are cooled, make the frosting for the cake.  The ingredients for the vanilla frosting are milk, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla.

Dump all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, and mix on medium-high speed.

Carve the round cakes into a head and hat by carving out small circles and stacking them on top of each other.  Make a larger circle for the brim of the hat.  Form a snout and ear on the cat and secure it by shoving popsicle sticks in the head and hat.  Frost the cake after it is assembled (it will look very crumby, so refrigerate it for about 30 minutes).  Then frost it again so there are no crumbs showing.

Decorate the cake.  I used toothpicks to make the small details on the cookies and the face of the hat.

Thing 1 and Thing 2!

Mr. Fish turned out really cute too!

I attached the cookies by melting some chocolate discs.  I laid pretzels on the bottom of each cookie and poured the chocolate over the pretzels.  Freeze the cookies to harden the chocolate.  Push the pretzels down into the cake.

Here is what the back of the cat looked like.  For his fur, I piped vertical lines down his head and dragged a toothpick across the fur horizontally.  I also put mini red and blue M&M's and red swirls all over the cake.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies
¾ C. all-purpose flour
1/3 C. Dutch process cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
6 T. (3 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ C. confectioners' sugar
1 large egg
½ t. vanilla extract
In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the egg and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated and no streaks remain.  Form the dough into a disc, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1-2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to about ¼-inch thickness.  Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters and place cut outs on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes, just until set.  Let cool on the baking sheet about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Decorate as desired.
*Note - The yield of this recipe will depend on the size and shape of cookie cutter you use, so an accurate estimate is not possible.
Source: Annie's Eats, originally adapted from Martha Stewart

Royal Icing
4 C. powdered sugar, sifted
2 T. meringue powder
5 T. water
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes).  Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container.  This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating.  Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated.  Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping.  (Remember, if you are having any difficulty piping, it is still too thick.  Add a little more liquid and try again.)  Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie.  Let stand so the icing will set.  Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.
Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container.  Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and then smooths in with that still in the bowl.  If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again.  Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie.  If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along.  Allow to set.
Use the remaining thicker icing for piping decoration as desired.  Gel icing color is best as it does not add a significant amount of liquid.  Liquid food coloring can be used as well – add powdered sugar as needed to compensate for any thinning that occurs.
Source: Annie's Eats, originally from Good Things Catered

Triple Chocolate Cake
1 box Pillsbury Devils Food Cake Mix
4 large eggs
1/2 Cup canola oil
1/2 Cup water
8 oz sour cream
1 small box instant chocolate pudding mix
1 bag mini or regular chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a stand or electric mixer add the cake mix, eggs, oil, water, sour cream, pudding mix and chocolate chips.  Beat until well combined, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Will be thick.  Pour evenly into 2 well greased 9 inch cake pans.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from center of cakes.  Let cool completely.
Source: Picky Palate

Vanilla Frosting1 C. butter, softened
6 to 8 C. confectioners’ sugar
1/2 C. milk
2 t. vanilla extract
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla.
On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Source: inspired by Bakers Royale

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