Tyler, a 2nd year in my department, had a birthday on October 28th. What does this call for? CAKE!
He doesn't speak German, so he chose the cake based on its picture:
How seasonally appropriate!
This name is self-explanatory! But not terribly descriptive. The cake itself is spicy pumpkin, pretty similar to carrot cake. The frosting was supposed to be a layer of apricot preserves, followed by fondant, topped with the fondant pumpkins and bats.
I was excited to work with fondant for the first time. As an amateur baker, I wanted to learn a new skill. However, every time I said, "fondant", the response was, "eeew gross why can't you use real frosting???" Fondant looks beautiful, but it doesn't taste great. I consoled the boys with the promise of a can of cream cheese frosting on the side. They could redecorate their individual slices after we admired the whole cake.
To my dismay, I couldn't find actual fondant at Wegman's. I found marzipan, which definitely tastes better and functions almost the same way, but enough for the whole cake would cost $20. I opted for a $4 tube of it to make the wee pumpkins and bats and decided that the jar of cream cheese frosting would suffice for the rest. You win, boys, you win.
Back home, it was time to mix!
The recipe called for Lebkuchengewürz. (Gewürz=spice.) My favorite online dictionary had a forum thread about this spice mix. It is similar to gingerbread spices, but not the same. The recipe I ended up using is:
35 g Zimt, gemahlen
9 g Nelke(n), gemahlen
2 g Piment, gemahlen
1 g Muskat, gemahlen
2 g Koriander, gemahlen
2 g Kardamom, gemahlen
2 g Ingwerpulver
1 g Muskat - Blüte, gemahlen
35 g ground Cinnamon
9 g ground Clove
2 g ground Allspice
1 g ground Nutmeg
2 g ground Coriander
2 g Cardamom [But I didn't have any of this, so I didn't use it.]
2 g powdered Ginger
1 g ground Nutmeg blossom [What?? I didn't have this either.]
It looked and smelled delicious:
Which made the batter tasty:
I needed 225 g of grated raw pumpkin (which is what makes it more like carrot cake than pumpkin bread, which uses pureed cooked pumpkin). Thankfully, I had one little organic farm pumpkin left! After hacking it open and gutting it, I chopped the meat into manageable chunks and grated away. Faraday hated the sound and hid. I hated it too, but I couldn't hide. [Someone suggested later that I use my food processor. Next time.]
Kitty came out when I finished:
Speaking of kitty, I think Faraday's back legs look like Mr. Tumnus legs:
Am I right??
The batter perfectly filled one 8-inch round cake tin. While it baked, I set about preparing decorations.
First, I had to knead food coloring into marzipan. While yellow, red, and black food coloring look frightening on hands, they wash right off. Marzipan is kind of sticky and pretty yummy.
Next, I rolled orange marzipan into pumpkins. That was easy.
Cutting bats out of rolled-flat marzipan was another matter. It turns out that I am a terrible freestyle bat-cutter. (...bat...cutter-outer?)
Directions online all said, "roll out marzipan and use a cookie cutter to create bats!" At 10:30pm the night before the birthday, THIS WAS NOT HELPFUL. My cookie cutters are limited to fruit shapes. The apple slice (a semi-circle) was repurposed in an act of desperation. After a few knifed wedges here and there, my bats were at least recognizable.
Add some icing faces and we have Halloween cake decorations!
I left off the apricot jam layer. So now I have apricot jam. I never buy jam. Hmm.
After the cake cooled, I frosted it, slapped on the bats and pumpkins, and voila! Halloween cake!
It was a TOTAL hit at lab. My guinea pigs (aka fellow grad students) thought it was super cool and delicious. Tyler was quite happy with his birthday cake, and once again, I had no leftovers to bring home. :)
~used cream cheese frosting, instead of fondant and apricot jam.
Next time would:
~Probably not make marzipan bats and pumpkins for the top.
~Any fall day that needs pumpkin cake!
~A Halloween party, I suppose. :)