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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Volcano cake

Part 3: The Cake

Cake time!!!  My favorite part of the party was the cake.  I have to say that I am pretty proud of how this cake turned out.  Peter even mentioned that it might have been my best cake ever!
Cake baking:  I baked chocolate cake (one bundt cake, two 9 inch rounds, one cake baked in the Classic Batter Bowl from Pampered Chef and one small cake baked in the Small Batter Bowl.  I let the cakes cool and then stacked them in this order: Round, Round, Bundt, Classic Batter Bowl, Small batter bowl.
Buttercream icing:  I iced in between each layer with homemade buttercream icing.  Yum, buttercream.   (My buttercream icing recipe is simple:  2 sticks butter that are room temperature--leave them out all day or overnight if you can.  Cream the butter using a mixer.  Gradually add 4 cups of sifted powdered sugar.  Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla--I sometimes add a little more because I like it.  Then, add 2-3 Tablespoons until you reach the desired consistency.)  After putting all the cakes together, I used a large bread knife to shave the sides of the cake to be a little more volcano shaped.  
Fondant:  Then, I rolled out the fondant (that I purchased from Michael's).  I hadn't ever used fondant so I didn't want to make my own for fear that I'd do it wrong and then have to ice the entire cake.  It would have required A LOT of icing.  After rolling, which takes a lot of muscle, I picked up the huge piece of fondant and draped it over the cake.  Luckily, a volcano doesn't need to have smooth edges so the draping looked great.  I didn't even worry if there were air bubbles underneath since it didn't matter.
Spraypaint Next, I spray painted the white fondant using Wilton's food color spray; I purchased it at Michael's in the cake decorating department. FYI, when I was spraying the food color, it smelled TERRIBLE.  I mean, totally inedible.  I was really worried that when it dried, the fondant and cake would taste like the horrible smell.  Never fear, the fondant and cake tasted great.  I do have a little voice in the back of my head wondering what in the world is in that stuff and also whether it is really safe to eat.  I fed it to 24 children and plenty of adults so I guess it's fine.  *gulp*
Dry Ice reservoirNext, I cut a hole at the top of the cake and put a styrofoam cup in the hole.  This was to hold the dry ice and warm water.  Plastic or metal cups would work well in this situation.  DO NOT use a glass container as the dry ice would cause it to break.  Not ideal if you actually want to eat the cake!
Creating hard candy lavaTo make the hard candy lava, I melted red jolly ranchers in a 325 degree oven on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Melt for 5-10 minutes, checking at 5, 7, 8, and 9 minutes to ensure that the candy doesn't burn.  When the candy is melted, take the tray out of the oven and immediately pick up the parchment paper and drizzle onto foil.  The candy will cool very quickly so drizzle as fast as you can.  I made a few extra lava pieces, just in case one (or several) fell and broke.  I cooled these for a few hours on the foil.  Use a pancake turner to take the candy off the foil.

Icing lava:  I used a whole jar of Wilton's no taste red food coloring to make the red icing for the lava.  I still would have preferred for it to be a little bit more red but it looks ok in the pictures and tasted great so I won't dwell.  I used a small offset spatula to add the lava.  There is no pattern, I added the lava randomly until I ran out.  I only used one batch of icing for the cake layers and the lava.
Placing hard candy lava:  Next, I pushed the lava candy into the fondant and cake and used a little icing to secure it.  I think that if I did this again, I would use a sharp knife to cut the fondant before I pushed the candy into it because the fondant was difficult to pierce and I nearly broke the candy.  
Dry ice:  Our science guy brought the dry ice.  Before I knew that dry ice would be provided, I did research and found that you can purchase it at most major grocery stores.  It comes in different sized blocks and you can break it up using a hammer.  Use protective gloves or oven mitts when handling the dry ice because touching it with bare skin can cause injuries similar to burns from hot water. Alexander got to add the warm water and I provided a funnel so the water would go straight into the cup (and not drip down the fondant or into the cake).  
It was great fun singing to Alexander and watching him try to blow out the 'fire'!

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