Sunday, October 21, 2012

pumpkin birthday cake

I've come to the conclusion that I enjoyed the preparations for the Halloween party just as much as the party itself (dare I say a tad more even). Don't get me wrong.  The party was a blast, but I always feel a bit stressed.  Preparing everything this past week was just plain fun!  Bella was a real help with the sugar cookies, rolling out and cutting her own dough with cookies cutters.  Addie helped me bag the caramel corn for party favors and we all worked really hard on the decorations.  I love to bake and cook and having Ashlynn's birthday party as a reason to do these things made it even more fun.

I have the most fun creating amazing birthday cakes for my family.  This year I made Polar Bear cake (vanilla cake with lemon coconut filling and fluffy coconut frosting).  Justin made the suggestion that I tint the frosting orange for our Halloween theme and then I took it one step further and made the stem and vines out of sugar.  Green dyed flaked coconut acted as the grass.

To make this pumpkin cake you could bake any type of cake you want.  Simply add red and yellow dye to the frosting until the desired orange color is achieved.  The candy stem and vines look more complicated but it was actually fairy simple.

Candy stem and vines
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup water
pinch cream of tartar
Green food coloring

Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray generously with cooking spray. Roll 2-4 pencils tightly in tin foil twisting the ends so the foil stays.  Grease the foiled pencils and set in the baking sheet.

In a sauce pan combine sugar, corn syrup, water and a pinch of cream of tartar.  Heat on medium with a candy thermometer attached to the sauce pan.  Let it come to a boil and cook without stirring until the syrup reaches a hard crack temperature on the thermometer. Add food coloring and stir.  Pour the hot candy onto one side of the greased baking sheet.

Wait for the candy to cool for about 1-3 minutes.  Test the heat with your finger.  At the moment you can comfortably pull up the edge of the candy without it being too hot, is the right time to start working with it.  You want the candy to be quite hot so it's soft and bendable.  Peel up the edge of the hot candy and using a pair of kitchen scissors, start a cut into the candy about the width you would want your vines to be(leaving it still attached to the large pool of cooling candy).  Grab your foiled and greased pencil and start to slowly pull the cut end up and around your pencil twirling and wrapping the strip around.  Continue to do this until you have enough vines.  Set aside the vines on the pencils to cool.  I left the vines around the pencils for a few minutes until the candy is cool enough.  Be extra careful when pulling the pencil out.  Any bumps in the foil or the jagged twisted end of foil on the pencil could snag the candy and break the vine.

For the pumpkin stem take the edge of the candy and cut a much thicker strip of candy completely off.  Think about how tall you would want your stem to be.  Carefully roll the strip of candy into a tube and let it cool and harden on a wire rack.  You will likely have plenty of candy still to work with.  Try to move quickly so you can make more than one stem and extra vines with varying thickness and lengths.  You never know when your toddler will find the hidden location of your candy stems and decide to break a few.

If you are left with a large slab of hard candy that didn't get used you can break it into large shards and decorate cupcakes with it or using a mallet crunch the candy into homemade sprinkles for cooking decorating, as I did. I found putting the shards in a plastic bag before I started beating it with the mallet helped.

For the "grass" simply dye one tablespoon of water with green food coloring and stir in a handful of sweetened flaked coconut.  Once they are evenly coated and green, spread the coconut on a paper towel to dry overnight.

Before decorating your cake with the stem and vines wipe any excess oil from the baking sheet off.  After your frost your cake with orange frosting arrange the candy pieces and sprinkle the cake plate with the green coconut around the cake.


Anonymous said...

oooh sugar work! It is beautiful! Love the pumpkin and the cake itself sounds delicious!

Daniela Swider said...

Wow, that cake looks so cool! And it looks like everyone enjoyed helping - how fun!

Sara said...

Thanks ladies, I was pretty excited about executing my candy idea as well as I did. Making the cake is the fun part!

laura gatt said...

These cakes look amazing birthday cakes I do love pumpkin cake!