Friday, November 4, 2011

A Knitted Cake

Since I'm now the official resident cake baker in the family, I was recently asked to create a cake for my husband's grandmother with the only stipulation that it be chocolate. Otherwise I was working with a blank slate. For the record I prefer that so much more than when you approach me with specific details of exactly what you want. While in the shower (all my best ideas come to me in the shower for some reason - I need to get a water-proof whiteboard for notes) I pondered "Nanny's" favorite things. Knitting was the first, and easiest, idea that came to mind. Right then and there I pictured a dark chocolate cake draped with a half-way complete white blanket. The contrast would be simple, yet elegant.

So I got to work creating the inside of the cake as I always do. From two Duncan Hines boxed mixes spread into three circular 9" pans. For those who are counting two cake mixes technically fill up four 9" circular pans. I used the remaining 1/4 of mix to make cupcakes (you'll see why later). The finished product: a three layer cake with a raspberry filled center.

Next I created the dark brown fondant, aka the first part of the visual contrast. It took three mini-bottles of dark brown coloring and just one recipe of my special marshmallow fondant (I'll share this easy and inexpensive recipe soon) to cover this cake.

With the easier part complete, my biggest worry was how to create the actual knitted piece. I first envisioned rolling out hard fondant like you would a snake out with play dough and then "braiding" them together, but soon realised piping out butter cream frosting would be much easier and quicker. I practiced a bit before beginning.

Since the knitting was suppose to look like a work in progress I would need knitting needles. All of my actual knitting needles were mid-project themselves since I haven't knitted in years, but have high hopes of continuing. So I went with regular old chopsticks. I'm addicted to sushi so I have plenty of those sitting around.

I started by piping out frosting every centimeter or so over the needles. Once I had "casted on" the first layer I simply looped the frosting from there. Creating layer after layer over the top of  the cake and then draped down the sides. This is where the cupcakes come in. I used two, one is sufficient though, cupcakes and completely covered them with piped buttercream frosting, giving the idea that they were balls of yarn. Then I continued the yarn up into the knitting for a complete look. One ball of yarn was used to supply the blanket and the other used to create the Happy Birthday!

Rarely do my cakes turn out close to what I had envisioned. However, this is the first time that the finished product looked identical to what I had first pictured in the shower. Let the record show it was a huge hit and I was her favorite grandchild for the night.

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