Monday, May 7, 2012

Sunflower Cake

My daughter's school recently had their annual Spring Fling. I don't know about your kid's school, but ours feels that one note about an upcoming event is never enough. At least one harassing note per day for two straight weeks seems to be their MO for guilting parents into helping out with school wide events. Since I had school that weekend I decided to make a cake for the cake walk. Since I could do this on Thursday night, and bring it to school Friday morning when I dropped my daughter off. 

Thanks to Pinterest I wanted to make around thirty different desserts for Easter Sunday. Surprisingly, I was not able to make all the desserts I had "pinned" onto my Easter board. 

Also of importance, I am a total sucker for 75% and 90% off sales. 
Therefore, when I was at Walgreens a couple of days after Easter I picked up a bunch of chick peeps for this cake (spending only pennies for the peeps-woo hoo). 

Since the kitchen is one of my "happy places" I don't normally let me daughter help out too much with cooking. Other reasons I don't allow her to "help" include: my fear of her being injured, her clumsiness, but mostly its because she just flat out doesn't pay attention. Seeing as most of the reason I enjoy cooking and baking so much is because it relaxes me, bringing her in the kitchen only tends to increase my blood pressure. However, she (and I both) can handle a simple box mix cake. So after dinner and bathing were done, I let my daughter do all of the measuring, breaking (eggs), and mixing. I lined two non stick 8" round pans with parchment paper, did my best to evenly distribute the mix between the two pans, and baked. at 325 degrees F. 
I swear, I've never seen an oven like mine before. Not only does it have some of the hottest and coldest spots possible (sort of like a Hot Pocket fresh out of the microwave), it is never the temperature that you set it at. So I have to adjust accordingly, I lowered the temp. slightly, rotated my cakes 180 degrees half way through, and did not cook them for the entire recommended length. This is a lot easier to do if you put both cake pans on a cookie sheet.'s the first step: 

They really did come out nice and golden. The toothpick came out clean, so it was time to let them cool. Which busy moms everywhere knows that means time to go back to something else (maybe if we're lucky steel a glance at the newest episode of Grey's Anatomy while its actually on). I slid a case knife around the edges, and thanks to the parchment paper at the bottom, they popped right out of the pans (that never used to happen). Then it was time to try and make one of these cakes level on top so that it could be the cake base. After that, I took some super fresh-canned chocolate frosting-Gasp! (You thought I couldn't hear you gasp from this far away, but I did). Canned frosting is a blessing for busy moms. Not only is it cheaper (seriously, its like a buck fifty for a can that can do an entire cake or two dozen cupcakes), but it is such a time saver. Who in the heck has time on a week night to make from scratch frosting. I don't know about you but I just don't keep my fridge stocked with that much butter and/or cream cheese (shhh nobody tell Paula). So I always try and keep some Emerge-Frosting on hand. So all you frosting purist out there can go kick rocks because unless you are making your own, butter, sugar, and cream cheese at home, there are no differences in the amounts of preservatives between the two. (....and end rant). Here's the frosted cakes: 

Here's where it almost went south...normally when I make cakes they are for people I know (or at least will see again and know how to get in touch with), but this cake was being donated and never to be seen again. Heck, I wasn't even going to be at the school to see the happy face who selected my cake. So my dilemma was how can I package this cake at nine o'clock at night....I found an aluminum pan that must have made it home one night from a restaurant (I probably had this in mind when I washed and kept it. I'm also pretty sure my husband gave me weird looks). I thought it would be perfect, it was about nine inches (so I initially thought) and even though the edges were a little higher than I liked I decided to try it anyways. OMG, the cake just about fell apart when I was trying to drop-ever so gently-into its new home. Looking back I maybe should have just said screw it and iced it directly in the pan but fun is fun and done is done. 

So I re-iced the edges that got funked up, and proceeded to decorate the top. This was the funnest (and easiest) part. I kept my peeps connected, and the ones that were on the ends got a little piece snipped so-this exposed fresh marsh mellow so that they would all stick better to one another. A few of them were free spirits and still didn't want to play well with others. So I used toothpicks to hold those improper peeps to the cake. Then I put semi-sweet chocolate chips in the center to be the "sunflower seeds." I started on the outside of the circle (closest to the peeps), and worked my way around and inwards. 

Carefully wrapping the entire thing in Cling Wrap should have been the easiest part...had I not been almost out of said cling wrap. (insert joke about being "foiled" again. haha). Yeah yea, I should have looked ahead of time is what some of you may be thinking. If that is the case, I believe you are missing the point of this blog.  PLUS, that stuff is clear and its really hard to tell when its getting low. Luck was on my side and I had just enough to wrap the cake. The final hurdle was something to carry it to school in. I appreciate "aha" moments significantly more after nine o'clock on a weeknight-Modified shoe box: 
I must say that when the PTO moms were oooing and awwing over the cake me and my daughter had made, it felt good. 

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