Tuesday, November 26, 2013

An Owl Birthday Cake

Some close friends of ours have an adorable little girl who just turned two and we got invited to the party! 

When our friends told us about the plans for her birthday party I volunteered to make the cake/cupcakes for the event, since I wanted to give the birthday girl something special. I originally thought of just doing a few batches of different cupcakes, but I quickly decided to do something a little more complicated after S told me that she had purchased some adorable owl cupcake topper decorations.

I couldn't get over how cute the owls were and I kept thinking that their simple shape was something I could maybe replicate as a cake! It took a lot of supply gathering and planning, and even more time, but it was such a fun project!

I sketched out an outline similar to the cupcake toppers, and then baked a chocolate sheet cake in a 9X13 pan. I also learned some things about baking a cake that has a flat top. I still had to level my cake so it was flat, but baking the cake submerged a pan of water seemed to help it bake a bit more evenly with less of a dome in the middle. 

After I got the cake baked and leveled. I put it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Then I used a template I had sketched to cut out the owl shape. Once the cake was cut, it was a matter of making the frosting. I followed this recipe for swiss meringue buttercream, and while the taste was spot on and exactly what I wanted, but the consistency wasn't what I needed for holding some pipping designs. I ended up having to alter the recipe and throw in some confectioners sugar to stiffen the frosting, but it still turned out decent. It is certainly something I still need to perfected, but I love the flavor of this less-sweet frosting. I had to mix brown, green, and orange in additional to some white frosting to decorate and used like 5-6 different pastry tips for a variety of textures. I also purchased some modeling chocolate to make the feet and eyes, which worked out really well!

So after about ten hours of baking, freezing, cutting, and decorating...I finally ended up with an owl that I was pretty proud of.
Whoooooooots turning two??? (Best. Birthday. Theme. Ever.)

I still can't get over how cute it turned out! It was really fun surprising S and Z with it! It was pretty cute/funny when we decided to have Z blow out the candles and sing happy birthday, she kind of hand a mini meltdown and kind of freaked out about the cake. She didn't want to get anywhere near it! Luckily, once she had a bite of the cake and cupcakes, she was sucking down frosting like a birthday girl should be!

Since the cake was chocolate I wanted to make some cupcakes for flavor variety. 

I made a lemon zested cake with fresh raspberry buttercream. They were a hit! I didn't think the kids would like them, but most of the kids really enjoyed these as well as the adults! The raspberry frosting was probably my best frosting to-date! It was amazingly tasty!

To really take it to a new level, I also wanted to make some mini "cupcake shooters" (as the BF called them) that were just vanilla vanilla and small for little hands! I saw someone used ketchup cups for mini cupcakes, and at our last burger outing, I hoarded a bunch of cups that were put to good use. 

They were just too cute for words! I loved hot little they were, and the fact that people who didn't want a big cupcake, could just have a little taste. These are certainly going to be my new go-to party option!

Overall, I am so excited that I pulled off some great treats for Z's birthday, and I really loved making the owl cake! Now I just need to find the next cake decorating project....

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