Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Two Hockey Cakes

Well...its baby is 4.  That sweet little snuggler who is also my tough guy hockey lover is no longer a young preschooler...he moves to being a regular preschooler.  And what does a kid like this one want for his birthday?  Why, a hockey cake, of course!  But in this family we do birthdays big and I just couldn't settle for sending treats to school and calling it good.  Nope.  Instead, we invited grandparents and other extended family who live nearby to join us for the kids' weekly hockey lesson.  The kids put a little extra mustard into it knowing they had an audience too and worked really hard to show off all their best hockey moves to impress.

And when they got off the ice, we had a table all set up with a birthday hockey poster and a huge hockey cake ready for the little hockey players to dig in.  So Little Man's hockey buddies helped us sing happy birthday and declared the cakes "Awesome!" and tasty as they devoured it.
I had already done this hockey rink cake last year and my son is obsessed with sports jerseys and hockey sticks right now so I found some ideas online and then tweaked them a bit.  I started with Betty Crocker Moist cake mix - chocolate because that is my son's favorite but you can really use any kind you want.  I baked two cakes in 13x9 glass baking pans according to the directions on the box and let them fully cool.  The trick to having super moist cake is to keep an eye and start checking them at the shortest time listed on the box.  They will cook slightly more once you remove them from the oven so if you keep them in the oven too long they will dry out.  I baked these 3 days before the party.  I let them sit uncovered until completely cooled and then covered loosely to let just a little air in.

On day 2 - I made a giant batch of buttercream frosting.  This is about double a normal recipe and makes enough to frost about 4 regular cakes.  It freezes well though so I almost always make a huge batch.  If you will be freezing it - don't color it before freezing or the color may separate when you defrost it.

Buttercream Frosting
4 sticks butter (I like Blue Bonnet)
2 1/2 large bags of powdered sugar
heavy whipping cream

Make sure you are working in a cool kitchen or the consistency of your frosting can be effected.  Start by beating the butter with an electric mixer until it is fluffy.  Add the first bag of powdered sugar about a cup at a time, beating well each time.  Add about 2 tablespoons vanilla and 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream and beat well.  Scrap the bowl and begin adding the second bag of powdered sugar, about a cup at a time.  As with many trusty recipes, you have to gain a feel for this frosting and what it should look and taste like according to your own preferences.  I prefer a stronger vanilla and cream taste and not so sweet so I add a little more vanilla and/or cream if it starts tasting very sugary.  I also wanted this to be super stiff so it would harden so I used more powdered sugar to get the consistency I wanted for this cake.  If I were just making a regular cake I wouldn't need as much sugar.  The powdered sugar taste will also lessen after the frosting sits a bit so if it tastes too sugary or gritty, stick it in the fridge for 5 minutes and then come back and test it before adding anything else.  Also, by using only a small amount of the whipping cream instead of making a whipped cream frosting like I did here, you don't have to keep this refrigerated and the frosting will set and form a smooth crust on top that will keep your fondant from sticking.
I started by laying one 13x9 cake on my tray as the body of the jersey.  This tray is the size of a full baker's sheet cake and is bigger than my whole oven.  From the second 13x9, I cut a strip about 2 inches wide along the long side of the cake to make the shaft of the hockey stick.  Then I cut a strip from the short side of what was left about 2 1/2 inches wide to make the blade of the stick.  I cut an angle across the two corners that met to form the stick.  Then I cut arms for the jersey out of the remainder of the second cake.
You should end up with some leftovers perfect for snackers who won't leave your cake alone...  Then I dirty iced the cakes with a decent layer of buttercream.  I smoothed the buttercream as evenly as possible and filled any gaps between the cakes.  Then I let this dry uncovered overnight so the buttercream set.  You don't have to worry about the moisture of your cake itself because the buttercream seals in the moisture perfectly as long as you coated it well.
On day 3 I tackled the fondant.  This was my first time working with fondant and I was pretty nervous about how it would be to work with.  To be safe, I purchased Wilton's pre-tinted fondant.  Because we are Detroit Red Wings fans, I bought one box of red for the jersey and one box of white for the stick and details.  I did make paper stencils for a few things like the 1 on the jersey (number one was just what he picked since he doesn't play on a team yet).  I started with the red and microwaved it for 10 seconds to make it pliable.  Then I followed the directions for kneading and rolling it.  I laid it over the jersey and carefully trimmed it.  You will need to remember when you roll it that you need enough overage to go down the sides of the jersey too.  Because it was hard to roll big enough for the entire jersey dimensions in one go, I trimmed just the main body first and then re-rolled the fondant and did the arms.  I used a little curved piece to form a collar and saved the rest for cutting strips of "tape" for the hockey stick.
Then I rolled out the white in an oblong shape big enough to be able to cover the whole stick in one piece.  I shaped and trimmed off the excess.  Then I re-rolled and cut the white pieces for the jersey.  I cut three strips of "tape" for the top part of the stick.  To make them black, I put a little black paste food coloring into a drinking glass and added a few drops of water to make some "paint".  Then I took a small new paintbrush and painted the tape strips with the food coloring.
I used the same method to paint our last name on the white "name plate" on the jersey.  I used just my fingers dipped in a small amount of room temp water to "glue" the detail pieces to the main covering of fondant.
Lastly, I had to get that rich color and make all the excess powdered sugar off the cakes.  I took my regular clothing iron and put it on the steam setting.  *Note: Because I have very hard water in my faucets, I only ever use purified bottled water in my clothing iron to prevent stains and iron buildup - I would not recommend using this method if you use hard water or anything else in your clothing iron.  Once the iron was hot, I held it parallel to the cake about an inch away so the steam was projected very lightly at the cake.  This moisture was enough to melt the layer of powdered sugar and bright out the gloss in the fondant.  You may have to make a few passes to get it evenly steamed.  It is hard to get the sides of the cake completely but its not terribly noticeable.
To finish it off, I just used a small gel frosting stick to write the "Happy Birthday".  Then I left dry overnight.  Its best not to store this in an airtight container at any point because it can create condensation and then the fondant will start to absorb moisture and get mushy.  I had a large cover for this tray and took two small kids cups and used them in opposite corners to keep the cake protected but some air flow through it.  When I transported it, I wrapped it loosely in plastic wrap.

It was a smash-hit with everyone - looks and taste!  Judging by the reaction of the kids and parents I could have a small business making these - hockey stuff is hard to find!

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