Part 2 - The Cake
Just so you know, I completely trashed my kitchen making this cake. It's not for the faint of heart, really, and involves a lot of techniques.
I used 3 batches of cake (from my Betty Crocker cookbook), which included 11 eggs, and 7 cups of flour. Into this cake also went 4 bags of confectioners sugar, 2lbs. each and more food coloring per ounce than any sane person should ever consider eating. I did use koolaid packets to tint whenever I could to lessen the amount of food dye going into the cake - the dye in the koolaid packets are less potent than the gels I used for the black and the purple, plus it gave the frosting an interesting flavor.
I drew that up on the computer so I could see how she liked it. She has become enamored by zebra print, so I wanted to incorporate it, as well as the colors of her dress.
I knew that I would embellish it, but this was the gist.
My frosting recipe:
2 sticks of softened butter for every 2lbs. bag of confectioners sugar. Mix until you have a near solid ball, then add a tablespoon of milk at a time until you have the consistency of soft butter. I normally only use one tablespoon per batch.
I took a sheet of waxed paper and traced my pan. You can sort of see the faint outline of my mark.
I made some frosting and tinted it black (I used cocoa powder in the first place, so that I could get away with less black gel). I put it into a ziplock baggie, snipped the end, and piped out zebra stripes.
I filled in the gaps with plain white frosting. Notice that I've put the white frosting right back into the bag that my confectioners sugar came in. These bags are really sturdy and great for piping.
I took care to mind my thickness. I wanted to make the rounds between a quarter and a half inch thick. This may sound excessive, but I've never done this before and it just made sense that more would be the way to go.
I took another sheet of waxed paper and placed it over the frosting. This would be the back, so it didn't matter if it didn't look nice.
I carefully pressed and smoothed to try and get a fairly uniform thickness.
I flipped the whole thing over. At this point, I was pleased.
I placed the rounds into the refrigerator over night to make sure they were thoroughly chilled. That would be crucial to making this work. Cold frosting is firm and shape able, whereas warm frosting is sticky and gloppy.
I took this picture to show my station. There is no specialized equipment here. I don't have any round cake pans, I used the same pots and pans that I cook with every day.
My pans have heat proof handles that allow them to go into the oven.
If an object is heat proof, you can make a cake in it, even if it's not technically a pan at all.
I made two Silver White Cakes from Betty Crocker, and one Devils Food Cake recipe.
I put some black food coloring into the chocolate cake, and gel purple into one of the white cakes.
The purple photographed blue, for some reason. It is actually a really nice deep violet color.
Instead of simply pouring the batter into the pans, I followed this tutorial for zebra striping the batter.
After all, it's a zebra cake. Why be boring?
It took a little thought to work out how to distribute my three different cake batters. I had one large pan that would take the most amount of batter, and two smaller ones.
I ultimately decided to use all of the white batter in my largest pan, but do the purple thinly - saving half of it for my middle pan.
The middle pan used half of the purple and half of the black, and the smallest tier used the remainder of the black. You can see in the picture that after they were cooled, I sliced off the tops so they would be perfectly flat.
My box was white, but if you only have ugly brown, then you can wrap it with a white or a decorative paper before putting the waxed paper over the top.
I could have crumb coated my cakes, but holy heck, it was already getting over 8 lbs. of sugar in the way of frosting. I brushed away the crumbs as best I could and frosted the sides liberally with my colored frosting.
I pulled my striped top out of the refrigerator and working quickly, I pealed off the back.
I carefully flipped it upside down on top of my cake. I was expecting the over hang. I didn't trim it before putting it on the cake, because it would be very hard to line up it up perfectly and disastrous if I was off. Better to quickly remove the top sheet of waxed paper and trim off the excess before it softened too much.
I was pretty tickled to see that this worked!
The edges were ugly, but that's okay because I planned on a big fat trim anyway.
I took a sheet of waxed paper and wrapped it around a cryopack.
If you do not have a cryopack, do not fret. You can fill a ziplock baggie with water and freeze it over night. The waxed paper smooths the edges and the cold from the pack hardens the butter in the frosting, keeping it from sticking to the waxed paper.
At this point, I got really busy and worked fast, so I stopped taking pictures - sorry!
After I had my large round smoothed, I set it in the refrigerator while I did the same thing to my smaller rounds.
I had cut cardboard to the exact size of my smaller tiers and placed the rounds onto these before frosting the sides. My daughter also then informed me that she wanted the top tier to be frosted with blue rather than purple.
After my smaller tiers were frosted just as this top one is, I stacked them - keeping the cardboard rounds in place between each layer to prevent sagging.
Although I could have taken the time to make some frosting tips, I already had so much going on with this cake. I wanted my trim to be fat and plain, so I used ziplock baggies and snipped the corner back to about a quarter of an inch.
I made different colors of frosting, and piped large, ropy trim onto each join. My zebra striping on my second tier was lost to view, because there wasn't enough of a size discrepancy between the second and top tiers.
I wrote Happy Birthday on the top, squiggled some embellishments, added a few sprinkles and a couple of homemade lollipops. The whole thing went into the refrigerator over night, to set up and be ready for the big day.