Epicurious | October 2008
by Matthew Mead
Cakes for Kids
yield: Makes one 6- x 7-inch cake; serves 12 to 16
Editor's note: This recipe is adapted with permission from Cakes for Kids, by Matthew Mead.
Bake this cake for a Halloween party and your guests will be trick-or-treating at your house for years to come. If you wish to serve this cake in a compote or other shallow bowl as we did, be sure to place it on a cardboard base first so you'll be able to set it in the compote without disturbing your work.
Skill Level: Medium
2 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons flour
1 recipe Chocolate Cake Batter
1 recipe Creamy White Frosting
Green gel or paste food color
Orange gel or paste food color
1 small waffle ice cream cone
4 ounces (1/2 cup) black fondant
Black decorating sugar, for sprinkling
Two 6-inch half-sphere cake pans (such as Wilton Sports Ball set) or two 1 1/2-quart
Waxed or parchment paper
Wire cooling racks
Glass measuring cup
Small offset spatula
Cake plate or 4-inch round cardboard base (optional)
2 decorating bags, #70 leaf tip, and #5 round tip
Small, sharp knife
Compote or shallow bowl, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the bottom of each cake pan, then line it with waxed paper or parchment paper and lightly grease and flour the bottom and sides. Divide the batter between the pans and bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 minutes. Cool the cakes completely in the pans on cooling racks and then turn them out onto the racks.
2. While the cakes are cooling, transfer 1 cup of the frosting to a glass measuring cup. Tint it green (see Decorating Tips). Tint the remaining frosting orange.
3. Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of the orange frosting over the flat surface of 1 cake. Invert the second cake on top of the first, joining the flat surfaces of both domes together. Transfer the assembled cake to the cardboard base, if using, or a cake plate. Cover the cake completely with the rest of the orange frosting.
4. To make rib indentations as shown in the photo, hold a plastic straw against the cake, curving it from bottom to top. Lift it off, reposition it, and press again. Repeat all around the cake. (Gently incise the ribs with a skewer if you don't have a straw.)
5. For the stem, invert the ice cream cone and, using a clean spatula, cover it with the green frosting; add more frosting at the top to give the stem a curved tip. Place the stem on the top of the cake.
6. Fit a decorating bag with a coupler and the leaf tip; add 1 cup of the green frosting to the bag. Referring to the photo, pipe several leaves around the base of the stem. Hold the bag at an angle next to the stem. Squeeze out some frosting, allowing it to fan into a wide base, then decrease the pressure and slowly pull the tip away, lifting slightly, to form a point.
7. Remove the leaf tip and replace with the round tip. Pipe tendrils around the stem and leaves. Place the tip where you want the tendril to begin. Using even pressure, squeeze out some frosting and move the tip to draw the tendril. Release the pressure and lift the tip when the tendril is the desired length.
8. Using a rolling pin, roll the fondant to 1/8 inch thick. Referring to the photo and using a small, sharp knife, cut out the features. For the eyes, cut 2 triangles about 1 1/2 inches wide at the base and 1 1/2 inches tall at the center. For the nose, cut another triangle a little smaller than the eyes. Cut the smile to be about 4 inches from tip to tip. You can draw a paper pattern first if you like.
9. Spread the black sugar on a small plate (large enough to hold the smile) using the back of the spoon. Press each cutout into the sugar and then invert the coated cutout onto the pumpkin to form the face, pressing it into the frosting. Transfer the cake to the serving dish if you have not already done so.
•Choose your colors: The best food colorings to use are the gel and paste varieties; the liquid type comes in fewer colors and you need much more of it than of the gel or paste to achieve the same tint intensity. If you wish to mix a custom color, mix gel with gel, paste with paste, or liquid with liquid. Gel color comes in a bottle with a squeeze top; simply squeeze out drops of color. Paste color comes in a small jar; it is more concentrated than gel and you need less of it. Use a toothpick or the tip of an offset spatula to add a "drop" of paste color to your frosting.
• To tint frosting, add a few drops of color, mix thoroughly, and then add and mix in more color one drop at a time until the desired intensity is achieved.
• To fill a pastry bag with frosting or glaze, first fit a coupler and tip on the bag. Then fold down about 2 inches at the open end. Grasp the bag below the folded-down section (or support it in a small glass) and fill the bag half full with the frosting. Unfold the bag and twist the top, forcing the frosting down into the tip.
• You can use ready-made green candy leaves and green candy strings instead of tendrils if you don't wish to pipe the frosting.
• Instead of using fondant for the features, you can roll black gumdrops between sheets of waxed paper.