Happy birthday to my little bear cub! I made this cake without a cake mix, almost all organic ingredients and no food dyes. I have two little cubs…well, actually, one bear cub and one mouse…I don’t like to use valuable sleep time on baking, so I had to quickly do this during a nap and a park date with Daddy. As I was finishing the “fur,” the garage door was literally opening with their return. There are a few flaws that I can pick out in the picture (like that darn eye on the right!) but feel free to spend as much time and creative ability as you have available. I won’t go into every detail as to how I made this, but I will provide some links to help fill in the gaps.
This cake took me approximately 3 hours to make and decorate, so plan according to your ability. I baked the cake the night before the party, then the next day made the whipped cream and ganache and decorated it.
>First, the cake. I really like Martha’s vanilla cake. It is moist, not too sweet and easy to make. Be sure to follow good baking practices like using room temperature butter and eggs, preparing the pans, measuring accurately, using light colored pans, following directions precisely and using cake strips. Since I used cake strips, my cake came out of the oven perfectly flat and did not need to be trimmed. If your cake has a center dome, carefully trim off the top with a sharp bread knife to flatten the surface.
Versatile Vanilla Cake from Martha Stewart
>Make the frostings: The frostings both are incredibly easy to make and very fast, however, the ganache needs to come down to about room temperature to whip, so make it first. Italian meringue buttercreams or French buttercreams take time and several bowls to wash. Ganache and whipped cream, however, take approximately 5 minutes each to make once you know what you are doing. I have two mixer bowls for my Kitchenaid mixer, but if you don’t, you will need to empty out one frosting into another bowl when it is done and wash the bowl so you can use it again for the second frosting.
Whipped Chocolate Ganache
Chocolate Ganache from Food Network
Directions: In a medium bowl, pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted.
To make it whipped: Wait several hours (*yawn*) at room temperature or place in the refrigerator. When the ganache has partially cooled and set, whip with a mixer using a whisk blade (*be patient – it takes a few minutes, but if it doesn’t work at all, try cooling it for a bit longer*) until it looks like a regular chocolate frosting consistency.
Mascarpone Whipped Cream from The Cake Bible
>Frost and decorate: Using an offset spatula, make a crumb coat on your cake by covering the entire surface with a thin coating of whipped ganache. (see picture below) Make inner ears, eyes and snout a lighter color by using the whipped cream. I mixed a small amount of unwhipped, cooled ganache into my whipped cream to make it tan. When smoothing the whipped cream, keep a cup of hot water and a towel close. Dip and wipe spatula often.
Create the fur by using a decorating tip with multiple holes like the #233 tip from Wilton. I also used tips #5, #12 and #1 – using the larger ones for the nose and ears and smallest one for the writing and whisker dots. You can also use a star tip, but I like the shaggy fur look! Click here for a fantastic video of my favorite cake hero, Rose Levy Beranbaum, instruct on how to get your pastry bags ready and basic piping techniques. To make the eyeballs, take a small amount of cold ganache and roll it into two small balls. Place in refrigerator until hard and you are ready for it.
>Variations: A pink pig with pointier ears and strawberry whipped cream frosting, a panda bear with unwhipped chocolate and white chocolate ganache, a dog with longer ears and same coloring, a cat with peach whipped cream snout and white chocolate ganache fur, a mouse with larger, round ears, a rabbit, etc…the options are limitless!