Yesterday I made a cake from the box and decorated it with store-bought frosting. Seems like a straight-forward, easy project right? But then I couldn't help myself - I had to complicate things.
At my first big-kid job my boss brought in a homemade cake that really blew my socks off (obviously, if I'm still thinking about it >10 years later). It was a two tier vanilla cake with vanilla frosting and strawberries on the inside and outside. She was all, "so easy!" and "took no time at all!" The strawberry flavor infused the cake, without overpowering the simple vanilla/sugar taste. It was the best cake I've ever had.
So, yesterday: I made a shoddy replica of the cake, adding strawberries as best I could and making lots of sloppy mistakes. It was delicious. Ugly and delicious.
Here are the steps I took along with my blunders/tips. There aren't any pictures because I wasn't initially planning to share, but then when the yummy mess came out I realized sharing was a must. The links will show you exactly what products I used, so you can go ahead and get the samesies.
STEP 2: I followed the directions on the box to a T, even separating the egg whites from the eggs. I used a 13x9 glass pan that felt more casserole than cake (blunder #1: the bottom was not flat, and I think it should have been). Next time I will use the metal cake pan we have just for the purpose of baking cakes and will not go fancy with the prettier casserole dish.
STEP 3: While the cake was in the oven, I sliced up an entire pound of strawberries.
STEP 4: After 23 minutes, the cake came out of the oven looking a little undone so I put it back in for 5 more. At 28 minutes the toothpick came out clean, so I went with it.
STEP 5: Waited like...30 minutes for it to cool off before I started decorating. This was blunder #2. The box clearly says "wait until cake is completely cooled before frosting." I didn't have that kind of time though - I planned to serve the cake to a couple of special bday girls in just an hour. Next time I'll cook the cake a day before decorating. And it will be worth it.
STEP 6: Dug around under the very moist, warm cake to try to loosen it from the pan. Because I wanted to get the strawberries in there ASAP. Flipped the cake onto this serving tray. Things really got out of hand at this point, with the cake breaking in half and innards spilling out all over the kitchen. I realized there was no chance of me cutting the cake in half to fit strawberries into the middle of it. Next time I try this I will not only using a metal cake pan, but using two 9" round cake pans, so it will just be a matter of lining the top of one cake with strawberries (and maybe frosting, depending on how brave I feel at the time) and then finagling the second cake on top. The issue yesterday was that we only have one 9" round cake pan. :/
STEP 7: Was not deterred. Lined the bottom of the glass pan with strawberries. Flipped the serving tray of cake back into the glass dish. Because, duh. There had to be strawberry surprises somewhere in the cake and I was willing to settle for the bottom.
STEP 8: Mooshed the loose cake pieces into the pan as best I could with very clean hands and all the utensils I could find.
STEP 9: Blunder #3: Lined the top of the un-frosted cake with strawberries. All of the strawberries added to the wonderful taste of the cake, but this was pretty dumb. Because frosting a messy cake is hard (cake pieces get easily swept and mixed into the frosting - looks gross) but frosting a messy cake covered in strawberries is harder. I thought I was creating a flatter surface and I was wrong. Next time I will skip this step.
STEP 10: Using a knife and a spatula I spread the store-bought frosting onto the strawberry-heavy cake. By some miracle it covered the entire thing, although there were cake bits lumping out and the frosting layer was way thick.
STEP 11: I covered the entire mess with the remaining strawberries. Luckily I splurged on the pound instead of the quart because the quart would not have been enough.
STEP 12: Added sprinkles as another distraction from the shoddy frosting job and for a little sugary crunch. If things had gone better I would not have done this step. Sugar overload.
STEP 13: Used an enormous frosting tube to write "Kate Emily" on the cake in all caps. Blunder #4: should have either not done this or used a smaller tube. I had no business using a fat tube and only got it because it looked easier and like I was getting more frosting for my dollar. The names came out enormous and unwieldy and it's a good thing I didn't try to add "Happy Birthday."
RESULTS: The cake was super delicious (if you like a lot of frosting), but looked like total trash. I served it to a few buds and they all enjoyed it... after laughing at my goof-up.