So, a friend of mine is the pastry chef at a local bakery. The place is famous for its old-world German recipes and the fact that every holiday season, they make gingerbread houses that LITTLE KIDS CAN WALK INTO.* Since she has serious skillz, she invited some of us kitchen-ambitious types over recently for brunch and mimosas and a little cake-decorating tutorial.

L puts the finishing touches on her example cake while I do my Dr. Evil impression

L showed us how to make two normal, 8″ round box-cakes into something really special by making filled layers– a technique called “torting,”– and finishing the outside with buttercream frosting and all sorts of delicious accoutrements like chocolate chips and ground hazelnuts. It’s the kind of thing that takes a little practice, but the technique itself is only a mystery till you see someone who knows what they’re doing in action. And once you now how to do it, it’s not more complicated than making the cake itself– plus, it looks really fancy.

But never let it be said that I can’t make anything more difficult than it needs to be. Because I’m over-ambitious when it comes to baked goods, I did not opt to decorate my cake simply with some piped buttercream or crushed nuts. Nope! Instead, I had the insane idea to re-create an adorable cupcake design I saw in a Martha Stewart magazine from a couple years ago:

tiny Hedgehog Cupcake, courtesy of Martha

You’d think it would have occurred to me that I was dealing with a cake approximately TEN times bigger than a cupcake, and that maybe I should hold off on METICULOUSLY STICKING SLICED ALMONDS all over the thing in order to make little hedgehog spikes. But no. I forged ahead, and stuck a bajillion almonds in–one at a time– for hour? It was worth it, though:

The finished product!

And this is what it looked like when we cut into it to serve:

Layers of white cake, buttercream frosting and raspberry jam..mmm

The only thing that could have made this more hilarious is if I had used a red velvet cake so that it looked a bit more like cutting into an actual hedgehog.*** Oh man. I’m totally doing that the next time!

*Yeah. My friends are all cooler than me. Are you even surprised?

**Disclaimer: No bakery secrets were harmed during this tutorial; all cakes were box cakes and techniques imparted were basic…even though my execution suggested some were more kin to coordinating a space-shuttle launch…

***Does anyone else remember that scene from Steel Magnolias? With the red-velvet, armadillo Groom’s Cake?


6 responses »

  1. This is the most exteriorly-adorable, interiorly-delicious cake I have EVER seen. It looks amazing. If you ever do this again, I would seriously LOVE to get in on the cake action and learn how to do this type of cake from a pro. Your blog is so splendid.

  2. ebats says:

    oh, Steph, you and L would SO get along (she has so many fun gadgets and skills, plus, she’s a riot). I’ll have to hook you guys up!

  3. Jessie says:

    It was so delicious. Almost more delicious than cute. Almost.

  4. Kirsey says:

    Umm, yes I remember the Steel Magnolia Armadillo Cake, it’s possibly the best movie ever! And, I am so jealous of your cake baking, that photo of the sliced into cake is on my desktop background and I CANNOT stop drooling! We have a local bakery that sells torts and they are amazing, and like $100 each so I don’t eat them too often! I do not bake so my hat is seriously off to you!

  5. […] WI, where our dear friend L is one of the pastry chefs (remember L?  She taught us how to make anthropomorphic cake).  We came armed with cheap champagne, board games, and note cards so we could give L some […]

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