Monday, July 2, 2012

Three Layer Irish Cream Cake + Decorating Tutorial (Subtitled: How to narrowly avoid Cake Wrecks)

I made the fantastic Layla a birthday cake. Layla has long been an aficionado of the Irish Cream Cupcakes I made for Leslie's Birthday, so I was quite certain that Layla needed an Irish cream cake for her birthday. The recipe I used is the same as the one for the cupcakes, but with the amounts adjusted to make three, nine inch layers, each about 1.5ish inches thick.

I've also included a decorating tutorial for my standard birthday cake design, which you can all thank me for because now that everyone knows it's easy, they are going to expect better cakes. ;-) I will warn you that the Baileys in the icing made the icing colors appear slightly different than if you were putting them in a white, less boozy icing. This is important in this case only because the cake I envisioned was a lovely dark teal with pastel pick letters and some very elegant pink and white sprinkles, but it became the creation you see here when the colors took differently than I'd hoped and I switched to a standard confetti sprinkle. At any rate, I figure I have narrowly avoided cake-wrecks this time, even if it be only by a small margin.

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here)

Irish Cream Cake (Yield - 3, 9" layers)
Adapted from the Baileys Irish Cream cake recipe on the Baileys website.

1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (divided)
2 1/4 cup Irish Cream (I like Baileys original)
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup Baileys Original Irish Cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

Step #1 - Preheat oven to 350* F. Line bottom of cake pans with wax paper.

Step #2 - Beat together the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl.

Step #3 - In a separate bowl, mix 1 teaspoon of the baking powder with the Baileys. Mix well using a whisk or fork. (I just used the measuring cup rather than create more dishes by using an extra bowl.)

Step #4 - Add the Baileys mixture to the butter/egg mixture. Mix well. This is soupy, so you want to keep your mixer on a very low speed or mix by hand.

Step #5 - In a separate bowl, sift together the four, remaining baking powder and salt.

Step #6 - Add the flour mixture to the butter/egg/Baileys mixture. Mix well.

Step #7 - Divide batter evenly between 3, 9" pans. If you lave any lag time between when you finish mixing the batter and when you put it in the pan, give it a good stir, as the alcohol likes to separate to the bottom.

Step #8 - Bake at 350*F for 20-30 minutes. Layers are done when toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow layers to cool completely before icing.

For the Icing:
Beat the butter with a mixer until it is fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and beat with a mixer until well combined.

To Decorate:

Step #1 - Spread a small amount of icing in the middle of your plate or cake board. This will 'glue' the cake on the plate/board. Place your first layer onto of the icing and center it. (As you can see based on the pile of foil wrapped layers in the pictures, I baked my layers ahead of time and froze them. This worked great, FYI!)

Step #2 - Apply a generous layer of icing in between each layer. How generous is up to you based on how much filling you like.  I usually use a layer about 1/4-1/2 of an inch thick. When stacking each layer, make sure they are stacked evenly on all sides.

Step #3 - Set aside 1/2 cup of icing and then add your base color (if using color) to the rest. Mix it well so the color is even. The 1/2 cup you set aside is what you will use for the writing; add the color (if any) to it and set aside. The colors I used here are Wilton teal and Wilton pink.

Step #4 - Apply the 'crumb coat' to the cake. This is your first layer of icing. You want to coat the entire cake, but it does not need to be perfect. Do not worry about making the icing thick; your goal in the crumb coat is to apply a base layer that will literally keep the crumbs and filling in when you later apply your second coat. (I have no idea if 'crumb coat' is a real term-- it's what my mom always called it. The Cake Boss says 'dirty icing'. He's probably more qualified, but he is not my mom, and my mom wins.)

Step #5 - Chill cake (or set cake aside) until the crumb coat is well set. Do not skip this step!! Even if you are in a hurry, if you try and skip the crumb coat or letting the crumb coat set, your cake will not be as pretty and it will be more difficult to ice!

Step #6 - Apply your second coat of icing. If you let the crumb coat set, then this should be easy and go much quicker than the first coat.  Take your time and make sure you create a smooth, even surface. Now is the time to pile on the icing if you like your icing layer thick. I usually keep mine at about 1/4 inch thick.

Step #7 - Take the remaining icing and place it in a piping bag with a Wilton 1M (or any other large sized) tip. The easiest, most mess free way to do this is to set the piping bag in a drinking glass and fold the top over the outside of the glass. Plop the icing inside the glass and then just pull up the edges and you are ready to go!

Step #8 - Create a border around the bottom of the cake with what I like to call the 'Squirt and Pull' method. I'm positive this has a real name that pastry chefs use, but I don't know it, and 'quirt and pull' gets the point across just fine. Literally what you do is squeeze the piping at the base of the cake so that a dot forms, and then pull forward. This video shows you what to do if 'squirt and pull' isn't enough for you to go on. ;-) Continue this around the base of the cake.

Step # 9 - Using a small, round tip (I used a Wilton 4), and the alternate color icing you previously set aside, put your writing on the cake. If you are worried about spacing or being neat with your writing, use a tooth pick to lightly trace the words onto the cake before following over the toothpick marks with your icing. (No one mention how bizarre the B on my cake looks, ummkay? I should have following my own advice and used a tooth pick first!)

Step #10 - After you are done writing, pipe a border around the top the same way you did around the bottom.

Step #11 - Move the cake into the box or carrier if you are using one.Apply sprinkles to the top border. If you are not using a box or carrier, I suggest holding your cake over the sink when you apply the sprinkles to minimize mess. The box or carrier do a good job of catching any that fall off during application.

Step #12 - Add decorative 'blobs' around the top. You just do this by squeezing a blog of icing straight down, and then pulling the tip up and away from the cake once you stop squeezing. I usually put 8 on, but you can put as many as you like. Add sprinkles to the blobs and, TA-DA! You are done!! Super basic, easy, and cute cake!! Perfect for birthdays!

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