Birthday: Round Two
So Sugarbear wanted to go bowling with his friends for his birthday party. I was flipping through my copy of Hello, Cupcake!, and I found a cute idea for some bowling pin cupcakes. I also wanted to try out my Wilton Sports Ball pan, so I decided to make a bowling ball cake to go with the cupcakes.
Well, I loved how the cupcakes turned out! I frosted some standard-size cupcakes, placed some unwrapped, mini-cupcakes upside-down on top of them, and then used some more frosting to attach donut holes to the very top. I let them firm up in the fridge for a bit and then iced lightly over the whole thing. Then I used a pastry bag with a #16 star tip to cover the cakes evenly. The stripes and triangles were cut from strawberry Fruit by the Foot. In the book, the author melts canned frosting and dips the cupcakes, which gives a nice, smooth finish. I like to make my own frosting and wasn't sure how it would melt, so I went with piping.
The ball cake turned out to be slightly difficult. Next time, I will fill the pans a bit more full of batter and then trim the cake edges down to make a more rounded, as opposed to oblong, shape. Also, I will ice one side, let it firm up, then flip it onto the serving board and ice the other side. Sugarbear was more than pleased, so I won't beat myself up about it.
My favorite frosting recipe produces an icing that is a cross between a buttercream and a whipped-cream frosting. It came from one of my Wilton cake decorating class books. They call it Extra-Special Buttercream Icing, and extra-special it is! Even people who claim that they don't like frosting seem to enjoy it. It is a good icing for frosting and shell-type borders, but is too soft to pipe flowers.
Extra-Special Buttercream Icing
Cream 1 cup vegetable shortening* and 1 cup softened butter in a standing mixer. Reduce the mixer to the lowest speed and gradually mix in 2 pounds of confectioners sugar. Continue creaming until well blended.
Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons clear vanilla**, and 6 ounces whipping cream and blend on low speed until moistened. You may add up to 8 ounces of cream to reach your desired consistency.
Beat at high speed until icing is fluffy.
*No trans-fat shortening does not take food coloring well (it separates overnight), and tends to make a looser icing. Check the store brand shortenings as they tend to be "old-style" shortenings. There is also high-density shortening, which is available from cake decorating suppliers, but I have never tried it.