Saturday, April 28, 2012

Culinary Craziness: Angry Birds Cake & Piggy Cupcakes

I've had quite a few people tell me they love the Angry Birds cake and green piggy cupcakes I posted earlier so I thought ... well first I though, "Darn! I should have taken step-by-step pics of the process!", but then I thought, "Okay, I'll try to do a post on it anyway since people like it so much."

I didn't take pictures during the process because whenever I do any of my cakes it's for family, not for "show" so between being a crazy perfectionist and doing it for personal reasons, it never occurs to me to stop and take a pic. This same thing happened when I did "Bob-omb" for my older son back in March lol.

Anyway, here's a grainy DROID pic of my red Angry Bird cake with green piggy cupcakes around him. Sorry, I'm charging my regular camera's battery! If I have energy later I'll try to remember to re-post a cleaner pic. My mom took cake decorating when I was very young and always did extravagant cakes (she's also a perfectionist ... wonder where I get it from?!) so I picked it up along the way and have always done crazy cakes for my kids ;)

I chose not to do fondant this time because ... well I hate it first of all, though I love how clean and finished it looks in the end ... but also because it's been so cold up here lately I didn't have to worry about my buttercream melting off the cake the day of his birthday!


I used a chocolate cake recipe for this bird because that's what my son, the chocoholic, requested. I wouldn't recommend this recipe AT ALL because it's a very light, fluffy recipe which is delicious, but not easy to work with for 3D cakes, especially if you're not use to working with them.


Here's the chocolate cake recipe I used if you MUST try it out! Again, it's delicious, but not a great density for a 3D cake.

Here's one of the cake recipes I would recommend if you don't mind an absolute delicious light yellow cake. While I'm more partial to golden cakes, this yellow cake has a lovely texture and yummy, subtle flavor perfect for complementing with buttercream frosting!


Here's the closest thing to the buttercream frosting recipe I use. I eyeball and taste-test more than measure, but for anyone that doesn't have a great buttercream recipe this is a good one.

What you'll need aside from the ingredients in the recipes above:
1. A 3D globe-shaped cake pan. Wilton makes a pan that I own HERE that works well. If you need to feed a lot of people you'll definitely want to make a couple of these as they're only 6 inches in diameter or you can find larger ones. I have one that I used but I have no idea where I purchased it years ago.

2. Cake decorating bags (to hold the frosting when decorating) like THESE.

3. Round cake decorating tips (for decorating with the frosting) like THESE

4. Cake knife/spatula like THIS.  

5. Cupcake wrappers (for the piggy cupcakes). 

6. Regular disposable drinking straws (you'll see why below) 


7. Cupcake tins


Angry Bird Instructions: 

Step 1 
Make the cake batter you've chosen to go with and pour it into your globe-shaped cake pans (setting aside about 1/2 cup of batter). Make sure you've thoroughly buttered and floured your cake mold. I know some people hate butter, but from my experience coating your pan with olive oil or butter then flouring it after (put flour in the pan and shift it in every direction so that the flour gently coats the entire inside of your pan - lightly bang out the excess once the interior is coated) works best. I tend to fill my rounded pan within 1/2inch of the top edge for most cake recipes I use as I prefer it to overflow so that I can then cut it flat on top, than have it not quite meet the edge and get rounded (which makes it hard to stack).

Take the 1/2 cup of batter you set aside and make 2 cupcakes with it. They don't have to be huge, so filling up the cupcake tin only 1/2 way is fine.

Step 2
Bake your cake based on the instructions that come with your pan. Depending on the size of the pan they will recommend different temperatures and times. Ignore the instructions on your cake's recipe, stick with the ones for the pan! I find that it can vary a bit depending on the density of the batter, so a quick check with a super thin, sharp knife (a toothpick won't get down far enough and with the rounded pans like this it's usually the bottom that cooks last - you'll cover it with frosting anyway).

Bake your 2 cupcakes at 350 for 18-20 minutes (more if you make large cupcakes)

Step 3
Allow your cake to cool completely. Using a sharp knife, slide the rounded top past the edge of the pan off so that you now have a perfectly flat top. Get a plat and put it over the top of the side you've trimmed. Turn the plate with the cake over and shake it up and down with some force, pressed the cake mold to the plate. It should pop out. 

If it doesn't pop out right away gently go around the edges of the mold and with your thumbs pull the edges in opposite directions to gradually break the cake inside away from the mold. Put the plate back over the top, turn everything over and repeat the step above until the cake pops out. As long as you properly prepare your mold it should come out pretty easily when it's a simple mold like this.

Do the same thing to the other half of the mold (3D globe-shaped molds come in 2 halves that you later put together to form a globe). 


*Once your cupcakes have cooled you can pop them out of your tin (I like paper cupcake wrappers because they're so easy to work with) and put them in the fridge.*


Step 4
The cake halves should be room temperature if you've removed them from the mold (don't rush and try to remove them any sooner than that), so you now want to put both halves in the fridge.


Step 5
While your cake continues to chill, make your filling and your buttercream for the outside. I would make the equivalent of 2 sticks of butter's worth of buttercream (see the recipe above).


You can do the filling of your choice. I like to make buttercream then blend in fresh berries, but you can do just about anything. Whipped cream doesn't make a good filling for a dense cake like the one you'll likely make for this. Pudding is another iffy filler for dense cake.


These are the buttercream colors you will need (I purchase my food dyes from a supply store near me. The ones you get in the grocery store are not very concentrated and can break down the frosting because you have to use so much for a rich color):


1.5 to 2 cups red
1/2 cup black
1/2 cup white
1/4 cup yellow


These measurements are really guesses. I estimate how much I need and I'm usually right on, so guessing about how much you'll need is a tad new to me ;)
  
Step 6
Once your cake halves are cold to the touch, take them out of the fridge. You'll want to decide which is your top and which is your bottom. If one didn't quite come out of the mold right and the rounded top is a bit of a mess, make that the bottom as you'll trim that off.

To make the bottom a flat-bottom half, simply get a sharp knife and slice a piece evenly across from about 1/2 inch from the top of the mound. Set aside the top that you cut off for later!

Flip it over and make it the base. I usually decorate on one surface and then move the finished pieced to the serving platter or whatever I'm using, but you may want to decorate on the platter you intend to serve on if you're not used to having to move a finicky cake ;)

Step 7
Once you've got your base situated, spread your filling over its top starting from the middle and working your way out. Keep in mind that the weight of the top half will likely push out some of the filling so I generally thin out the filling a tad near the edges.

Step 8
Place the top half on top so that the edges match up and you now have a 3D ball!

Step 9
Take 3 drinking straws and push 1 through the center of the top all the way down until it hits the surface your cake is sitting on. Make sure you do this straight, otherwise it could take a turn and poke through the side.

Take the 2 other drinking straws and do the exact same thing about 1 inch to the left and right of the middle straw.

Get some kitchen scissors and snip the straws on the left and right so that they're flush with the top of the cake. DO NOT TRIM THE MIDDLE ONE!

The reason I prefer drinking straws over cake supports (dowels, etc.) is that they're hollow so they don't crack your cake when you put them in and they do the job well. Plus, they're meant for drinking so they're perfectly find for food!

Step 10
Spread on your crumb coat using red buttercream with your cake spatula! Your crumb coat is the first layer of buttercream you do directly on the cake. It's generally less neat and has crumbs in it because it's going directly on the cake, though because we chilled the cake it should be a bit firmer. This coat doesn't have to be thick, but you definitely want to cover the entire thing. This coat should conceal the tops of the drinking straws with the exception of the one in the middle.

Step 11
Put your cake back in the fridge to chill. Buttercream is primarily made of butter (I'm not a fan of crisco personally so I don't use it in my buttercream), so it gets very firm when chilled.

Step 12
Once the crumb coat is firm to the tough remove it from the fridge and spread a nice even final layer of red buttercream over the entire ball.

Do the small half-moon on the bottom portion of the front in white buttercream. Here's a picture for reference to what I'm talking about. 

Place it back in the fridge

Step 12
Take the 2 cupcakes you put in the fridge and cut off the "muffin top" portion. These will be the eyes! Spread them with white buttercream using your spatula, then do the black pupil using a large-sized round decorating tip.

Step 13
Take your cake out of the  fridge. Determine where you want to put the eyes. Here's a picture of an angry bird for reference.

Once you've decided where you want to put them, place one of the eyes in its spot, then take a drinking straw and push it a few inches into the eye and into the bird. Snip the straw off at the edge of the frosting on the eye. Cover up the straw/hole with a little buttercream. Do the same with the other eye.

Step 14
Take the bottom of one of the cupcakes and cut it in half so that you now have 2 half-moons. Cut the top section of each half moon off so they have a similar shape to the Angry Bird's eyebrows (refer to picture in link above).

Use some red buttercream to glue the eyebrows over the eyes. I coated my eyebrows in black buttercream first, but if you make a chocolate cake you don't necessarily have to do this. I just liked the way it looked.

Step 15
Get the top piece that you sliced off of the base earlier and cut out a triangular beak. Cover it in yellow buttercream

Fit it under the eyes and glue it down with yellow buttercream

Step 16
Take the other bottom half of the cupcake and cut it in half into 2 half-moons. Now take one of those half-moons and cut it half again so you now have 2 wedges - you want 1 to be larger than the other. Coat both wedges in red buttercream

Trim down the middle drinking straw that you left untouched earlier so that it's only 1 inch or 3/4 inch taller than the frosting on the cake. Push the bigger cupcake wedge down onto this  (coat it in black first if you didn't do a chocolate cake). It should conceal the straw (trim as necessary). Then use a little red buttercream to glue the small wedge behind it and onto the top of the head. The second wedge should peek out behind the larger one.

Step 17
Take the other half-moon you have left and cut it into 2 wedges. Coat these in black buttercream and glue them near the base in the back to make the black tail using black buttercream.

Your Angry Bird is now complete!!!


Piggy Cupcakes
Quick Tip: Do the same detail on every single cupcake at once rather than doing each cupcake individually. Also, I use 1 frosting bag and tip for each color and set them all up before I start decorating to save time, keep the buttercream from melting on a warm day, and keep things a bit more organized. If you mess up, no sweat! It's frosting, wipe it off ;)

Step 1
Make cupcakes as you normally would with whatever recipe you like. I made 2 dozen cupcakes because that's how many I need.


Once your cupcakes have cooled, and you've taken them out of the tins move on to step 2.

Step 2
Make 2 sticks of butter's worth of buttercream frosting.

You need the following colors:
1.5 cupes or more deep green  
.5 cups lighter green
.5 cups black
.5 cups white

Step 3
Spread the deep green onto the tops of the cupcakes

Step 4
Pipe the piggy's rounded, dome-shaped noses on using the lighter green buttercream and a medium-size rounded cake decorating tip. Here's a picture for reference.

Step 5 (Since the next few steps all use black, I did all of the black buttercream details on each cupcake at once)
Pipe big round circles on either side of the nose for the white portion of the eyes. Use a medium-size round decorating tip with the white buttercream.

Step 6
Pipe a smaller circled into the center of each eye using black buttercream and a small rounded decorating tip.

Step 7
Pipe the nose holes onto the nose. If you look at the pigs, one nose hole is ALWAYS larger than the other. I did this on mine to make them look exact ;)

Step 8
Pipe on tiny eyebrows and round ears. I also piped on tiny mouths that either smiled or looked goofy. They look cute without mouths, too.

Step 9 (optional)
My son is in love with the piggy with the crown so he asked me to put crowns on them. To do this I used the yellow buttercream and small decorating tip. I didn't do the teeny blue dots (though he asked for this as well) because I was so burnt out at this point lol. Here's a picture for reference of the pig with the crown.

You're now done with the piggies!!!

How'd it go? If you do the Angry Bird and/or piggies I'd love to see pics so feel free to post links below  or post pictures to my Facebook page!

Good luck!!!!

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