Monday, May 13, 2013

Giant 3 Tier Giraffe Birthday Cake - Making and Transporting

My friend's lil boy turned 1 year old last week!  She had a party for him at her house and I asked if she would like me to make the cake.  As soon as she said yes, I began thinking of super sweet cakes I could make with Giraffes on them - Giraffes being the theme.  I kept coming back to making a tiered cake as I saw it as a good opportunity to practice my skillz.

For tiered cakes, I looked into getting the Wilton Towering Tiers Cake Stand or the SPS Cake Separators.  But, since I didn't know if this would be a 1 time deal or not, I decided to go with Bubble Tea Fat Straw (50 pcs) along with cardboard cake boards to support each tier.  Bubble Tea Straws are nice and wide and easier to cut than wooden dowel rods, which other cake bakers use.  I also ended up purchasing 2 new pans - Parrish's Round Cake Pan, 12 x 3 Inches Deep and Parrish's Magic Line Round Cake Pan, 10 by 3-Inch Deep.  I already had some 8 inch pans.  I was really impressed with the Parrish pans.  They are made in the U.S.A and the cakes all cooked and came out perfectly.  Finally, I purchased some cardboard rounds for 12 Inch, 10 Inch and 8 Inch cakes.

Oh and I can't forget the decorations!  I got Sophie the Giraffe and a Bucket full of Plastic Jungle Animals.


I then proceeded to have way too much fun taking photos of plastic jungle animals....

Anyways, back to the cake  :)

I went with 3 flavors:
  1. Bottom Layer (12") - Classic Vanilla Butter Cake - doubled to make 2 layers
  2. Middle Layer (10") - Chocolate Cake - doubled to make 3 layers
  3. Top Layer (8") - Strawberry and Lavender Buttermilk Cake - Original Recipe Amount
All cake recipes were from Sweetapolita - aka, the best cake blog ever.

It took me 3 nights and about 4 hours on Saturday to construct the entire thing.  Wednesday night I made two 12" layers - would have done 3 layers, but it was getting late.  I used convection bake for the 2nd layer and it cooked the cake a lot more evenly.  Each layer was an entire recipe; so I doubled the recipe for the two layers.
Here's Joshua enjoying some cake batter

 And the finished cake - shown with a water glass to illustrate its size  ;)

On Thursday night, I made the chocolate cake.  Since the recipe was for an 8" cake, I doubled it for 3 layers of 10" cake.
 This was another late night and where having a second (and maybe third) pan would have paid off.  Cooking one at a time took quite a while.

Friday night I made the Buttermilk cake and the Strawberry Filling.  Having 3 pans to cook all the layers at one time was amazing!
 On a side note - in order to wrap the cakes in plastic wrap (or just to flip the cake over), I used a pan and the cooling rack (2 pans would work as well).  Just stack, hold the pans together on each side with your hands, and flip.

Saturday morning was assembly time!

Here is what I started with.  Look at all that cake!  I stored the vanilla layers (from Wednesday) in the freezer and the others at counter temp.

For the bubble tea straws - used to support the top tiers - I placed the 10" pan on top to mark where the 2nd layer would go, and then evenly placed 6 straws around the perimeter.  I pushed one in at first to get the needed height, and then cut the other 5 to match.

 Here they are all pressed into the cake; almost flush with the frosting.

It was at this point that I began to rush and didn't take as many photos.  The chocolate frosting needed a long time to cool and the lavender strawberry cake had some not-so-clear instructions for keeping the  strawberry/whipped cream mixture inside the layers.  I also made the mistake of not soaking the lavender in the milk the night before.  If I would have remembered to do that, then I would have finished the lavender/strawberry cake first and not felt so stressed doing it last!


Each tier was frosted and on top of a cardboard circle.  The bubble straws were placed in the 1st and 2nd tiers.  I placed one straw through the center of the top tier just as a piece-of mind that the layers wouldn't slide off each other.  

The bottom 2 layers were in cardboard boxes covered in cling wrap.  The top layer is in the blue cake/cupcake carrier.  The 3 tubs on the bottom right are leftover frosting - in case something were to go wrong on the drive.  The box on the right has cling wrap, about 8 spatulas (HA!), a knife, and the cake toppings.

In order to stack the layers, I had envisioned using spatulas, but I ended up just putting them on with my hands.  Left a few finger imprints on the bottom cake layers, but they went on fine.

There's the birthday boy behind the giraffe!!  He is eyeing up the gigantic cake!

After singing happy birthday, I cut the birthday boy a big piece of the strawberry lavender cake.  He played with it awhile before we showed him that he could eat it!

Once again, I removed the layers with my hands and sliced up the cake.  Here is what was leftover after ~60 people ate on it.

So, overall, I would say the project was a success!!!  Maybe I should get into the cake making business ;)  I have a new found respect for all wedding cake bakers!

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