Thursday, 22 December 2011

Celebrating Toni's 21st

This past Sunday was my sister (Toni Rose)'s 21st birthday. Without question, I had to make something for her and, after editing out the idea of a cake in the shape of a duck, somehow settled for some kind of checkered cake. I remember a few months ago seeing on The Best Thing I Ever Ate the creation of a Mondrian Cake (favoured by Chris Cosentino and created by the folks at Blue Bottle Coffee at SFMOMA) and used that as my point of reference. In addition, I created a gluten free option to go alongside the rest of the food (as if we needed more), the recipe of which I also share below.

With the actual party on Saturday, I prepped the cakes Friday evening. Switching out the milk shown above with Lactaid (thank goodness for the switch, expiration-wise!), the checkered cake begins by making two 13" x 9" sheet cakes. For this particular cake, I went with two cakes I've made before-- Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake and white butter cake. To the white butter cake batter, I also added 11 drops of red food colouring to tint the batter pink, and into a preheated 350 °F oven both went.

As both cakes were in the oven, I worked on a strawberry marshmallow fondant, made with strawberry-flavoured marshmallows, using a recipe of microwaved marshmallows (about 5 oz), a touch of water and enough powdered sugar until the mix no longer stuck to my hands. If you are able to prep the fondant in advance (overnight is preferable), wrap it up in powdered sugar and double plastic wrap.

On Saturday, and after taking another look at how the white butter cake turned out, I decided to remake it, better incorporating the butter into the flour mix and adding the liquids.

As the second white butter cake was in the oven, I pulled together the ingredients for the gluten-free dish and transferred them to a crock pot. Into the crock pot went 1 lb ground sirloin (sautéed with dried onion, dried garlic and black pepper), one 15 oz can chili beans (along with the canned liquid), one 15 oz can black beans (drained and rinsed), one 15 oz can chicken broth, 1 c frozen corn kernels, 1.5 c water and one bag quinoa (with dehydrated black beans). After getting this covered and set to high, the ground beef and quinoa dish was left alone for about 4 hours.

In contrast to the chocolate ganache of the Mondrian Cake mentioned above, the layers of my checkered cake were held together with a dark chocolate buttercream frosting, a recipe of which can be found here). While the quinoa dish was cooking and after making a batch of buttecream frosting, I put together the checkered cake, which began by leveling and trimming the cake layers and then cutting long strips of cake (the more uniform in shape the better). Alternate the layers of cake, using the buttercream frosting to help adhere the sides together. Cut smaller segments and use the frosting to even out any layers that may come from the different heights of the cake layers, and feel free to extend the cake (as I did) to fit your serving tray.

After you have your desired shape and have covered everything with an even layer of frosting, it's time to roll out the strawberry marshmallow fondant. If at all possible, work in a cool environment; if it gets to warm, the fondant will become too soft to work with so work as quickly as possible! However, with other dishes being prepped by my parents at the same time, I didn't rely on the fondant cooperating with me. This being said, I worked in layers and multiple pieces, eventually settling on two long strips to wrap the exterior of the cake and making a series of thin strips to cover the top. In addition, I covered the top of the cake with 21 fondant roses made by wrapping individual pieces of fondant around themselves. Garnishing the tray were rose leaves I cut from our garden, wet with water and covered with granulated sugar. Get the cake in a cold environment until ready to serve, at which time the quinoa dish was also ready.

And I don't think I emphasized enough just how much food my two dishes were added to...

For the entire photo album (and the rest of the food) click here.

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