Oooh look at me! I’m an innocent Captain America Cake! I look easy right? Wrong.
Ok, so it’s not a three tiered super hero extravaganza with fists bursting out of the top and capes flapping out the back or anything, but it’s still hard alright!
When an ex-colleague of mine said I could make a birthday cake for his son, I asked what his favourite character was. The answer – Captain America. I didn’t even know who Captain America was really (I know, I know), so after a quick scan on Pinterest I was excited that he had chosen something that was going to be easily translated into a cake and was something I felt confident I could do.
My experience with fondant cakes is limited, I am more of a buttercream kinda girl…. so I need to get as many orders of this kind from friends and family as possible for practice. If you don’t include a penguin cake made a few years agofor a fully grown 30 year old man (who likes penguins),
I have never actually made a kids cake before, so this was excellent experience and a valuable photo op for my website and facebook page (not to mention something to blog about!).
Recently I splurged on some new tools in preparation for such an order and got myself “The Mat” (which is great for fondant rolling and something I was wowed by in a youtube video I watched one day), as well as a rolling pin specifically designed for rolling fondant and an array of different cutters. Unfortunately I didn’t get star cutters, and I was having a stingey moment in the craft store and refused to pay the $8, so I had to make my own template out of cardboard by tracing a star off my computer screen that was about the right size. In hindside, $8 was a small price to pay to save myself about an hour trying to get it right! I am fast learning that there is a never ending list of equipment, tools and products needed for cake decorating and whatever you have will not be what you need for your next order, so you will find yourself right back at the store again watching your profits decrease as you rack up another bill.
I was impressed by “The Mat” no end. It hasn’t miraculously made me a fondant cake expert and I was still a little disappointed with my lack of smooth sharp edges, but gosh did it make rolling the fondant to the right size and super thin thickness and transporting it to the cake a breeze. I did still have to get my husband to help me roll though, I’m just a weakling, it would have taken me ages to do what he did in about 60 seconds.
The real challenge to this cake was cutting the stars and circles to finish the cake, and more difficult, getting them from the bench top to the cake without distorting and stretching them.
As soon as you try to transport the outer red circle, which is thin and flimsy and rather large in size, its stretches, loses shape and tears. The Mat wasn’t my friend here. I tried transferring it to the cake whilst still on the mat but I couldn’t peel it off easily without warping it. Eventually, back on the work surface with dustings of icing sugar, I was able to get a smooth circle that was holding together and not sticking to the mat/bench/hand etc. But even still, just with the lifting and placing down on the cake, it’s shape was not perfect. I like perfect. I gave up and moved on to the easier red and white inner circles – these were more sturdy and much easier to handle. While I was cutting and rolling, my husband, along with his patience, sat there and worked away with a little knife on the outer red circle and managed to mould it to be more circular. Bless him. He has spent too long in the kitchen with me, he likes perfect too.
In any case the purpose of this blog today was not to explain my Captain America woes, but to show you how to make the inside of the Captain America Cake – with the Star Spangled Banner (minus the stars) showing in each slice. This part I found easy!
I chose my go-to recipe for a simple and very tasty Vanilla Cake, and accompanied that with a Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Get these from the baking guru that is Gretchen Price on Woodland Bakery Blog.
Pretty simple flavours, but I figured that for kids it’s best to keep it simple. They are unlikely to rave about your new Blueberry Lemon combination, or Salted Caramel frosting, they just want it to taste like cake and sugar, right!?
I also chose this so that it was a plain white cake mix. Then it was possible to colour it and make it exciting. So the recipe makes two 8 inch circle cakes about 2 inches high each. I split the mixture in half (weigh it to make sure you have it right) and coloured one half of it a vibrant Red and the other half left plain.
Once baked ,I made an extra half sized batch and coloured the whole batter bright blue. Make sure you use good quality gel colours here by Wilton or Americolor or something similar. I used intense red by Wilton and Sky Blue by Americolor. The liquid stuff you find in the supermarket never fails to disappoint.
Once cooled, cut off any domed top so that the cake is flat, and then torte each cake so you have two equal sized layers of both white and red. The blue cake will remain one layer and should be equal in size to two of your smaller red and white layers. If not, trim it up a little bit.
Get yourself a cake tin or bowl that is smaller than your 8″ cake, about half the size. Use this as a stencil and cut yourself a small circle out of the centre of your 8″ blue cake layer, put the inner circle aside and keep the outer. Line up together a single red and white layer and do the same, keeping the inner this time and set aside the outer.
You should now have one red and one white full 8″ cake rounds, an outer blue ring and a small round of both white and red.
The bonus with this cake is you have leftover parts, and you can construct yourself a smaller, squat, inverse, version of the flag, and eat it! Not saying that I did that or anything……(it was delicious).
Construct the cake on your cake board layer by layer, starting with your full red round. Spread that generously with buttercream and top with your full white round. Next is the outer blue ring and inside that press in your small white and red rounds sandwiched together with butter cream. Press down to get a flat, even top. That’s it! From here, just ice and decorate as normal, and when that first slice is cut, everyone will be surprised and impressed by your american flag interior.
For any American readers, I guess this would be a fun cake to make for 4th July or memorial weekend, no need for the Captain America outer decorations, just ice and sprinkle with some red white and blue edible confetti or 100’s and 1000’s! So very patriotic.
This cake has inspired me to work more with fondant, sharpen my fondant skills and be creative on the inside of the cake as well as the outside. I am feeling a rainbow cake brewing…..watch this space! Oh and you will be pleased to know that I happened across a super dooper sale at a homeware store just yesterday and got myself a pack of 5 different sized star cutters for just $3. For next time.