Sunday, June 23, 2013

Teal Ombre Cake

I'm not superstitious but I could become that way as I think there is cloud of jinx hovering over me lately.  Things that I have made or done the same way for years, decades even, are suddenly not producing the expected results.

My great-niece's favorite color is currently teal. I had seen many ombre cakes on Pinterest and decided to make a four layer cake for the family birthday celebration. One Pinterest source used white layer cake mix and baked five thin 8" layers but didn't mention how long she baked them. I decided to go with four shades of teal and use two boxes of white cake mix. My plan was to trim off as much of each layer as I felt was necessary to create flat layers and not have a giant cake that might have layers slide in transporting the cake to the party.

When it comes to cake mixes, I am a fan of Duncan Hines but when I shopped, the store didn't have Duncan Hines white, I bought Betty Crocker mixes instead. Here are the tinted batters in the pans. Easy peasy so far....

I have had concerns lately that my oven may not be working properly. Chocolate chips cookies, a recipe I've been using since I was 15, are suddenly not coming out routinely with the same quality. Is it me? The oven? Changes in the make up of ingredients ?

I used an oven thermometer and made certain that 350* was truly 350* when I put the pans in. I should have photographed the layers on the cooling racks but I was too dismayed to think of that. I have never had such flat layers in all my years of baking. I had been expecting to trim almost half of each layer, but there really wasn't much to trim, just the slight crowning that is typical. Here are the trimmed parts on a plate, showing the baked colors.
The cake tasted ok, but before I trimmed and tasted, I decided that I needed a backup cake. I would make a Snickers cake, chopped Snickers being a garnish on the frosted cake.

I know for a fact that I have made a cake by that name before, but I couldn't find the original source. I printed one that I assumed was the same and began to add ingredients to the bowl. The following mistake was completely my fault. I am accustomed to recipes putting the ingredients in a list followed by paragraphs of mixing and baking directions. This recipe had everything in paragraph form. I goofed and added 1 cup of oil instead of 1/2 cup. Since you can't take oil out of the mix, I dumped that, went to the store for another chocolate cake mix and pudding mix. Worried about success and time running out, I bought canned frosting too.

A few minutes before the minimum baking time on the chocolate cake, I looked in the oven window and said Holy Expletive! Bill said uh-oh and came to see what was wrong now. The cake layers were huge! I'm surprised they hadn't spilled over the sides of the pans. They took longer to bake than expected, but eventually the toothpick test showed them to be done and they went to the cooling rack for ten minutes.

I began making buttercream icing for the first cake, another recipe I've been using forever. The process wasn't going smoothly but it would be good between the layers and with the remainder of this batch thinned, it would be good for a crumb coat. The timer signaled it was time to take the chocolate cakes out of their pans. Holy Expletive again...the layers now had craters instead of mountains!
This photo doesn't do justice to the depth of the craters
Ready to cry and announcing that I was D.O.N.E. making cakes for family parties, I asked Bill to go the bakery for me. He bought this cake while I soldiered on with icing the ombre cake.
By now I was mentally using language I rarely utter out loud and decided that the look I was going to attempt on the first cake was out of the question. I opened up the cans of frosting and began tinting in four bowls. Canned frosting doesn't pipe well so I just painted bands of color on with a small spatula and blended the lines of color to achieve this:
Not what I had in mind, but not atrocious. How's that for a rousing endorsement?

I wish I could show you the birthday candles that I bought and used but Picasa is another thing not working as expected. I used to be able to capture a still shot from a video but Picasa isn't showing the videos from my camera. The candles were each a different color and they flame they produced matched the color of the wax. Really cool, especially on the bakery's colorful cake!

Here is the cut view of the ombre cake which the birthday girl loved.
All's well that ends well for the birthday event, but I am still left wondering why the layers baked so flat, what went wrong with the chocolate cake (I'll look for another version of the recipe and compare ingredients and instructions) and why Picasa is giving me fits.

If you've experienced any of these problems and have suggestions, I'd love to hear them. Come on over for coffee and we'll see what a sunken Snicker-less cake tastes like. If it is awful, we can eat the unopened bag of candy.

1 comment:

Rudee said...

It's an awesome cake!

I know my oven temps are off, and my appliance is only 3 years old. I go by the thermometer I bought. Do you turn your pans halfway through baking? I think rotating and even changing racks when you do could make a difference in your outcome. Frankly, with as hot as it's been, I'm amazed you're baking at all!