Ann's fifth birthday was last week and we had a tea party to celebrate. I'm not a cake decorator at all, I usually keep it pretty simple, but this is a birthday cake so things are different. She was going to be wearing a pretty yellow hat for the party, so I decided to make a cake to match (same ribbon and all). I was pleased with how it turned out considered it was a first attempt with no trial run or anything. It wasn't perfect, but Ann loved it and that's what really matters.
The recipe I used didn't turn out to be anything special, in fact, I was dissapointed. I got it from the Martha Stewart Wedding Cakes book, but it turned out rather dry ( I probably overbaked). But the buttercream recipe was good and worked well.
It's hard to see from this picture, but the texture on the hat turned out nicely. I used a trick I learned at a class a couple of years ago. You wait until the frosting is dry enough that it won't stick to your finger when you touch it, then you use a paper towel and place it gently on the cake. Then gently rub your finger over the surface, and this transfers the texture from the paper towel. It gave it a nice finished look and the texture really looked like a hat would.
Here's the cake recipe I wish I would have used. I've used it in the past when a friend recommended it and it comes out nice and rich, and very moist. It's also super easy. It's great for a layered cake, I usually make it in two 8 in rounds.
2 C Sugar
1 3/4 C flour
3/4 C Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 C milk
1/2 C veg oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 C boiling water
Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, powder, soda, and salt. Make well in center, then add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium for two minutes. Stir in boiling water.
Pour evenly into pans (I usually use cup measures for this part).
For two 8 in rounds, bake on 350 for 30- 35 minutes. Cool for ten minutes in pan then remove to wire racks.
As another tip, I'm usually adament about using parchment to avoid sticking, but I've fallen in love with Pam for Baking that has flour in it. It works perfectly. I used it on the hat cake (which was a pizza pan and a pyrex bowl), and both came out without sticking at all. Love it!