Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dr. Seuss-ing It Up

Last week my mother in law informed me that my husband's nephew was having an upcoming birthday. She asked if I would be willing to make him a birthday cake. Without hesitation I was happy to do it! I immediately had thoughts running in my mind to make something pretty simple, given the busy weekend I had planned during the nephew's birthday party. But then, a challenge was brought on. Little did I know that this nephew had some unique ideas for his cake!Justin was turning 6 years old and has grown fond of Dr. Seuss books. In fact, my mother in law was explaining to me how much he loved the book, Green Eggs & Ham. This book inspired Justin to have a very green birthday... green plates, cups, napkins, etc. So, the challenge was to make a cake that Justin would like as much as his Dr. Seuss books, tie in the color green and have it ready with very little time aside to prepare. I was doomed.

After scoping out ideas from friends and the internet, I came across a cake made in the shape of Dr. Seuss' famous red & white striped hat. I figured I could make that easily so now my cake plan was coming together. I mean, how hard could it be to stack a few layer cakes, tap in a dowel to hold its shape and place some fondant on it before calling it a day? Wrong.

I still had to think of incorporating the color green into the cake. So fortunately my mother in law suggested a pistachio cake. I was unsure about how an average 6 year old would take it, but knowing Justin, he would eat it simply because it was green. So that was the cake flavor I went with.

As I let my cake layers cool, I made a simple buttercream (butter, confectioners sugar, heavy cream). After that was done, it was time to start building. I started stacking my layers but soon realized that the cake was so moist it could not hold its own weight. In fact, it started to crumble as I started to put the dowels in. Uh oh. Thank goodness my husband saved me from a state of panic.

I ended up having to use my trifle bowl and lining the edges with strips of red & white fondant. With the cake practically crumbling in my hands, I decided to salvage what I could and layered inside the trifle bowl, alternating cake and frosting. To cover I laid white fondant on top and used some red fondant to make the brim of the hat. By the time this was completed, it was well after midnight.

So to finish this cake, I decided to put my scrapbooking skills to work and made a small "book" to adorn the top of the cake. Using the actual Green Eggs & Ham as inspiration, I made the book out of orange cardstock and used the picture from the title page to reflect the "Green Eggs & Ham" piece of the challenge.

In the end, it worked out well. My husband was able to safely transport the cake to the party (which would have been possibly disasterous, had my original plan was carried out) and Justin loved the cake. In fact, the parents that attended the party contacted me and asked if I could make cakes for their kids. (Let's just hope they don't have any unique requests for cakes...)

If I were do it again, I would definitely make a denser cake that can stand up to the weight and dowels - a pound cake recipe perhaps? Here's the final product...