Monday, August 25, 2008

The 3 Day, $35 Birthday Cake

It all started a few weeks ago when I received a recipe in my email inbox from Martha Stewart. I should have known from the source, right away, that the recipe would be more, lets say, complicated than usual. But, I have successfully completed many Martha recipes before, so I was up for the challenge. I know that J loves coconut cake, and I didn't let the fact that the recipe printed out on 4 pages deter me.

The $35 was for the 3 pounds of butter, 2 quarts of cream, 10 cups of coconut and 5 cups of powdered sugar that had to be purchased for the cake. I'm not even including the flour, regular sugar, cream cheese, 6! teaspoons of vanilla, coconut extract, vanilla bean, cornstarch, etc. that I already had on hand.

Day 1, Thursday Evening - I enlisted Embry to help me. She was very excited about Daddy's birthday and loves to bake. We put together the batter in the usual method, but when we were finished adding the ingredients to the mixer, the batter didn't seem right. It was way thicker than any cake I had ever made, about the consistency of sugar cookie dough. So I referred to the video on Martha's website. Her batter was indeed thick, so I proceeded. I didn't have the 10 inch cake pans that the recipe called for (I tried to find them, but couldn't, for a reasonable price anyway) so I had to estimate how much batter to use for 9 inch pans. I waited for my oven to come up to temp (it is normally 50 degrees off, so this takes a while). It was very close, so I put the cakes in. Well, the oven never quite got up to what it was supposed to be so the cakes didn't rise properly, and when I took them out of the oven they fell in the center. I waited for them to cool and then tried to get them out of the pan. No dice. I referred back to the recipe which said to cool completely before trying to remove, so I let the cakes sit overnight.

Day 2, Friday Morning - Tried again to remove the cakes from the pan. Nothing happened. I ended up using a pancake spatula to scrape the cakes out of the pans. (Normally I would have papered the bottom of the pans, but I have discovered that with Martha's recipes you follow them to the letter, and this one only called for greasing the pans. No flour or paper.) So, one of the cakes came out in halves (left and right halves that is). The other one was more interesting. The center of the cake came out while a 1 to 2 inch ring of cake stuck around the edge of the pan. At this point I figured we had the makings for a good trifle, but I was willing to keep at it. I, very carefully sliced the cakes in half (I was supposed to slice them into 3 layers each, no way that was happening), and soaked them with sugar syrup.

Day 2, Friday Evening - Time to make the filling (once again with Embry helping). The procedure went fine, with one exception. the recipe calls for a medium saucepan, which to me means 4 or 5 quarts. Well, I decided to use a large one because of all the ingredients and it still barely fit. Not sure what they consider medium. Left the filling out to cool.

Day 2, Very Late Friday Evening - J gets up with Matthew in the middle of the night and realizes that we never put the filling in the fridge. He puts it away and we decide that its OK, mainly since we didn't have enough ingredients or time to remake it (it has to chill for 8 hours).

Day 3, Saturday Morning - Guests coming at noon and lots to do. The house is a mess, J and I need to shower and I have to make frosting and assemble the cake. At this point I have cleaned the kitchen maybe 7 or 8 times since starting the cake. I whip up the filling, which luckily has the consistency of spackling (sp?) compound and am somehow able to piece together the layers to roughly make a cake shaped dessert. I go to put the cake in the fridge and oops, it's too tall for my cake dome. What else? I whip up the frosting which turns out to be just barely enough. This surprises me because we had so much cake and filling left over I could've made another cake altogether. But, I somehow cover the cake enough and we decide to cover the entire thing with toasted coconut (instead of just the sides) in order to cover for the lack of frosting. back into the fridge.

Day 3, Saturday Afternoon - I can only find 17 candles (J is turning 30!) but no one minds. And the cake is a hit. Unfortunately almost no one is able to finish their piece (and we cut very small pieces) because it is so rich. This will definitely be a cake to remember.

If anyone would like to give it a shot here's the recipe Ultimate Coconut Cake , and a picture of what the cake is supposed to look like :)

By the way, I found out from watching the video clip from Martha's show that the bakery that sells this cake charges $100 for it, and now I know why.

1 comment:

ginny said...

Oh my!! that is one crazy cake... that story reminds me of when I tried to make the christmas town house cake that was on the cover of the december martha....
looks delicious!