|Purple Ombre Cake by raspberri cupcakes|
I mean seriously, isn't it AMAZING? Rapturous? Beautiful? Dreamy? Perfect for a 3 year old's birthday party?
(Cue Richard Marx's crappy song from the 80s "Shoulda Known Better...")
I knew I'd need practice. While I enjoy baking occasionally, I have never baked a layer cake and frosted it. I figured I could practice a few times before September and figure out how to do this. I'm a former chemist, and I'm good at following precise lab procedures, so this isn't much different, right?
The first indication of disaster up ahead was the fact that the only round cake pan I have is 10 inches, which is 2 inches bigger than the one the recipe recommends. But since I was making fewer layers (only 3 instead of 5) I figured this might be ok.
But for each layer there wasn't enough batter to fill up the pan, so they ended up being lopsided flat pancakes once baked. Sigh. Also the second and third layers weren't different enough color-wise after baking (though the batters looked different going into the oven!).
I still figured I could practice on the layering and frosting parts so I kept going. This took me all day. And I chose the one day it hit 80 degrees. Not very smart, huh?
I bought a local brand of raspberry jam for spreading between the layers and that was pretty amazing - no big blobs of raspberries and easy to spread.
The vegan chocolate "buttercream" frosting was off in texture, possibly because of the heat. T is still allergic to dairy unless it's been baked, so frostings need to be made dairy-free for her. I had great luck a few weeks ago with the plain vegan buttercream, but not so much with today's chocolate version which was sort of grainy and wouldn't get smooth or fluffy despite lots of mixing and playing around with the ingredients.
The end product looked, well, homemade. Respectable for a first try, and the almost-ombre layers did look pretty cool when I cut into the cake. But the cake was super-sweet and super-dense, probably due to the thin cake layers and all that jam and frosting. (And I don't have much of a sweet tooth to start with.)
I think a birthday cake should look magical (like the original!). I want my birthday girl's eyes to light up when she sees it, knowing that gorgeous cake was made just for her. I get that when she's 30, she'll be grateful that her mama went to the trouble of making a homemade cake, but that's not how it works when you're 3. You want the pretty one.
So without regrets, we'll go to Whole Foods and talk to them about cake options. Sometimes it's better to leave important things to the professionals.