Monday, June 18, 2012

...seeking several Intrepid young men...

  If you've wondered why this blog has been silent for a few weeks, this is why:

The D. Crockett & Dan'l Boone
Wilderness Eploration Co., Ltd.

Is seeking several Intrepid young Men to join an
Expedition set Forth in Honor of the births of
Joel D. and Dale R. Miller
This Quest into the Vast Undiscovered Portions of our Great
Nation will depart Promptly at 2 o'clock on the Afternoon of
Saturday the 9th of June, 2012 from the Miller Residence.

Constant Danger, Low Wages.
Honour and Fame Certain in case of Success.

Please respond to Trail Masters Joel or Dale Miller
by Tuesday, the 5th of June to Secure your
Passage with this Valiant Endeavor.

The Families of these Brave Explorers may Celebrate their
Safe Return with a Mug of Hot Chocolate at
half past Seven o'clock on the Evening of June 9th.

Signed, T. Miller
15th May 2012

The boys turned 10 last week.  It's hard to believe how those 5-pound-1-ounce scrawny little babies have grown up so quickly into these brawny boys!

{I think we'd better watch out!}

This blog post, as well as the next several posts, will be about the food we served and the games we played. 

T had a lot of fun guiding the boys through several teamwork games--can't survive in the Wilderness without teamwork--and I had fun coming up with (semi-) authentic 1800's Wilderness foods.

But what is a party without a cake?

From my children's (and husband's) viewpoint, the cake is the most important part of a birthday Celebration.  For me it is not as important, but as a way of honoring them and their special days, I try to have a fun cake. 

{I'm always glad that I only do two a year--one for the boys and then one for the girls, as their birthdays are just three weeks apart. And no, I'll never be as good at this as T's mom was, nor will I enjoy it as she did, but I do try...}

This year the boys chose a Chocolate cake (I always use a mix).  I usually let them decide what shape/type of cake they want, but this year, because of the theme of their party, I got (?) to pick.

{There were 10 growth-rings on the tree stump}

Because we needed some gluten-free cake for their cousin, we had cupcakes, too.  I used a Betty Crocker gluten-free cake mix.

Here are my notes on how I did the cake:

I had the boys bake four boxes of cake mix in round pans for a total of eight layers.  (It was a good thing we made that many because Little Sister sat on some...)  I ended up using only five layers in the actual cake.  We baked the cake over the course of a week and froze the layers.  I then built the cake using frozen--not thawed--cake and four recipes of my favorite chocolate frosting (recipe follows).  I covered the exterior of the cake with two boxes of purchased fondant.  I bought the pre-colored fondant because I didn't feel comfortable trying to make the colors of each box match perfectly.  I topped the cake with a circle of fondant and then wrapped the sides of the cake with a rectangle of  fondant, curling it over the top of the cake to make the top of the stump.  I then used portions of another cake layer--the one that got sat on!--to form the roots, attaching them with sandwich skewers and covering them with fondant.  Some of the remaining fondant I formed into twigs and branches and attached with toothpicks.  Using another toothpick, I scored the wood grain onto the outside of the stump.  The grass around the tree was made using a grass icing tip and green-tinted frosting.

The lettering is more fondant--I bought a box of white and colored it in red, yellow, and blue with gel food coloring and then stamped out the targets and letters using cookie cutters.

The arrows for the cupcake targets are made from dry spaghetti and bits of red fondant. I moistened the fondant bits with a damp paper towel to get them to adhere to the spaghetti.

I did run into a few problems:
I decorated the cake on Thursday using frozen cake.  As the cake thawed, it's weight started to make the frosting/filling sag at the bottom.  Because it was a tree, it didn't matter.  If it had been a wedding cake that would be a whole 'nother story.  I just popped it into the fridge so it would firm back up and it was fine for the party on Saturday.  Next time I'll just store it in the fridge right from the get-go.

I started out storing the cupcakes in a sealed plastic container.  The moisture from the frozen cupcakes made a few of the arrow feathers start to separate from the spaghetti.  Removing the lid from the container solved the problem.  And no, the cupcakes weren't dry because the cake was completely 'sealed' from air by the frosting. 

Hopefully this will help you out.

Here's the Frosting/Filling Recipe.  It is from the Southern Living Cookbook and is my all-time-favorite frosting.  It is what I use for all the children's shaped cakes.  I especially like how I am able to smooth it onto a frozen cake (it firms up to almost solid).  Then, using a metal spatula dipped in HOT water, I can smooth out imperfections and get a top that is as smooth as fondant.  Just use a paper towel to blot up any small water droplets.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1 1/2  Cups  Butter, softened
4  Cups  Sifted Powdered Sugar
2  Tablespoons  Milk
1  teaspoon  Vanilla Extract

Cream  Butter at medium speed of an electric mixer; gradually add Powdered Sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Add Milk; beat until spreading consistency.  Stir in Vanilla.  Yield: 3 Cups

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:  add 1/4-Cup Cocoa with the Powdered Sugar
Mocha Buttercream Frosting:  Dissolve 2 Tablespoons instant Coffee powder in the Milk.  Add as directed for the milk.
Spiced Buttercream Frosting:  Substitute 2  Tablespoons Orange Juice for the Milk, and stir in 1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ground Cloves in place of Vanilla extract.  {I haven't made this variation, but the Chocolate and Mocha--oh my!  I could eat them with a spoon--no cake needed!}

{You can see the bit of slump in the bottom of the cake--store yours in the fridge!}

Here is a link to Kara's Party Ideas, where I got a lot of my cake and cupcake ideas.

Just as a warning, however:  Do Not, and I repeat, DO NOT look at these ideas with your children. 

The majority of the ideas are so cute and so fun and so over-the-top that your children will be begging for this party or that party for the next, oh, about bazillion years.

Just warnin' ya!

{Have a Happy Birthday!}

1 comment:

Kelley said...

WOW! I am so impressed - what a fun party!