Sunday, January 18, 2009

Moosetracks Meltdown

The thing about creativity is that it can be very dangerous if you aren't careful with it. And I tend to abuse it. Saturday was Sally's birthday and she was a little apprehensive about me making her birthday cake, which was kind of disappointing, so I decided I needed to come up with a tactic to draw her in. I figured Sally was most inclined to request a cake from Coldstone, maybe Handel's, so it seemed my only option was to conjure an ice cream cake recipe. Which was not hard, because I figured I could just take a regular chocolate cake recipe and throw some ice cream in the middle, right? Wrong. Kind of. I bet it would work, if I learned from the experience, but overall it was not the most epic of all ideas, except maybe a little epic fail.

I should mention that my favorite things to make are birthday cakes, hands down. I think it's because they are the ultimate baked gift. And they can be anything! They're so much fun to decorate and so easy to experiment and usually so pretty, except for this time. I won't say I didn't have fun, I certainly did, and I learned a lot, too. But the visual aspect was disappointing, and it wasn't the best tasting cake I've ever made, but isn't it the thought that counts?

So I've been turning to the baking book Taylor gave me for Christmas, because, quite frankly, I'm completely captivated. It has so many things to try and everything is accompanied by gorgeous photographs... I want to try them all. So I picked out a rich chocolate cake recipe with a thick fudgy frosting, because I simply don't make chocolate cakes without fudge frosting, and went to town. The hard part though was converting the cake into an ice cream cake of sorts. In theory, I think my idea was brilliant. If I hadn't messed up a bit on the execution, I really believe it would have worked too. Sally requested chocolate moosetracks ice cream, so I picked up a box and went to town. The idea was that I would construct the ice cream layer in much the same manner as a cake layer. Instead of cake batter I'd just have ice cream and instead of baking it in the oven it would come to the right consistancy via a freezer. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is line the bottom of a cake pan with parchment paper, that way it's easy to get out of the pan, then fill the pan with the ice cream of your choosing, keeping in mind that the brand of ice cream REALLY makes a difference. We used Meijer brand. Don't use Meijer brand.

Ice Cream Layer

Then cover it will plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer. Make whatever cake recipe you'd like, simply following the recipe up until assembly. It's a good idea to either double the frosting recipe, however, or maybe just multiply all the ingredients by 3/2 to account for the extra layer in the final cake.


I decided to make a three layer of cake, stacking my ice cream in between two cake layers, but for reasons I'm about to discuss, it might be a good idea to make a two layer cake (cake then ice cream on top). After my ice cream layer had aqequately frozen and I'd whipped up two beautiful chocolate cake layers, I started to assemble. Regardless of how many layers you choose, ALWAYS start with a cake foundation. I placed one cake layer onto a plate and covered that with a generous layer of frosting (because of course I made extra :)) and then crossed my fingers and prayed that the ice cream layer would turn out all right. I flipped it out and was, at that point, very pleased.


So I placed that on top and covered it with a layer of frosting. And then made a very big error. I started to clean the kitchen. Taylor was coming over, and I figured I'd rather be making a big cake than picking up dishes, scrubbing counters, throwing away parchment paper/saran wrap, and the sorts. After a little while I topped my cake with the final cake layer and snagged a few photos of how pretty it looked all stacked up like that before trying to cover the whole thing with frosting.


Isn't that pretty? And I thought a very good sign. I started to frost around the sides, but the ice cream was getting soft and very difficult to work around, so I decided to stick it in the freezer for an hour or so and come back when it would argue with me as much. Well, I came back an hour later and found out it had been a little late for the freezer... The ice cream layer was more melted than I'd thought, and didn't freeze up in time to stop the top cake layer from doing a landslide of the top. It was kinda ugly. So I took off the cake layer, scooped up the ice cream the best I could and tried again to refreeze what had been a perfect ice cream layer. Moral to the story? Don't dawdle with ice cream, work fast and it should work out alright. It may, however, be a good idea to freeze between stages, but if you do make sure to avoid the other mistake I made. I knew I should make a larger batch of frosting, but when I started to frost the top I left more there than I should've. After putting it in the freezer for a while, that frosting was determined to stay right where it was. Stupid stubborn frozen fudge frosting. Because I definitely ran out when I finally was able to kind of, sort of, maybe cover the sides. Sally must really love me, because she didn't complain much. If you look closely in the picture of the final cake, you can see on the bottom where it was, very sadly, left unfrosted...


By the way, the banana is there to give you an idea of how big it was. That was a big banana. It was a monster of a cake. In the end it tasted pretty good, the frosting was the best part. The cake itself wasn't superb, I think it was a fantastic recipe that I detracted from a bit by serving it frozen. Taylor said, and I think was spot on, that it would be ideal if you could serve the whole thing with the cake part at room temperature and the ice cream cold. You could certainly get a lot closer to this with the one cake-layer and one ice cream-layer concept, that way you can let it thaw without fearing the top cake-layer will play slip and slide and make you want to pull your hair out.

If you don't bake often I don't recommend an ice cream cake. If you do back often, I don't really recommend an ice cream cake. I think a scoop on the side may be the most effective way to preserve an elegant presenation, and it still tastes delicious :D

1 comment:

  1. The cake may not have looked like the most pretty cake in the world, but it sure tasted good. I will say that you are welcome to bake my birthday cake. Maybe I should have a birthday celebration and beg you to make a cake for me? Now I'm really not sure what I'm going to do because I'm still very hungry and now craving chocolate. I have determined that this site is inherently evil! Even though I have deduced this, I will continue to read about your cooking/baking exploits and my taste buds will have to live vicariously through you :(