Girly Pink Skull Cake
Somehow, over the past half a decade, the iconic symbol of rebellion, mayhem and destruction has morph itself into an adorable emblem of girly fun. I’m not sure who does PR for the Skull, but BRAVO! This cultural make-over surpasses even Mark Wahlbergs move from the Funky Bunch to Oscar Nominee. My current cake creation was in celebration of my wonderful friend, (who is a symbol of Girly Fun times in my life) and her most recent birthday.
To start, I made a four layer lemon cake. I decided to make Mango Cream Cheese frosting because that is a favorite of the birthday girl. It was good, but the mango bits made the frosting a bit chunky and it wasn’t mango-y enough. If you like mild mango flavor, here is the recipe. To mango it up a notch, you can add Mango Extract: http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Mango-Extract-29-Fl/dp/B002BX351A
In a sauce pan over low heat, add 2 cups of sugar, 1/4 cup of butter and one large mango, diced, skin removed. Stir infrequently until the mango chunks are super soft and falling apart, about 30 minutes. I left this on the stove, semi-forgotten, while I gave Tater a bath, so you really don’t need to babysit it as long as the heat is on low and you stir it occasionally. Let it cool to room temperature, then puree in a food processor until as smooth as you can make it. The biggest rule for making cream cheese frosting is that your ingredients NEED to be at room temperature. You can’t cheat and try and trick your frosting, you’ll end up with a big mess the consistency of ground beef. In a stand mixer, put 32 ounces of room temp cream cheese 2 sticks of room temp butter and mix well. Then add the room temp mango mixture and blend well. Everyone likes a different sweetness level on their frosting, I like mine closer to savory than overly sweet. I added about 1 cup of powdered sugar to this, taste and add more depending on your preference. I also added quite a bit of pink food coloring
Starting with a white 14 inch cake board circle (you can buy at cake supply stores or Michaels Arts and Crafts) I stacked up the layers with a hefty amount of frosting in between each layer. After that, I iced the cake completely, this will be the first coat. Some call it crumb coat, because the cake crumbs will invade this first layer, and others (including myself) call it dirty ice, because it sounds more fun. Allow that to set completely, about an hour.
The next coat is your final coat and it helps to sooth everything out and cover any bumps or holes in your cake. Think of fondant as that super shiny, thin bridesmaid dress that makes you look awful and shows every flaw, and you would never be caught dead it in it, let alone PHOTOGRAPHED in it over and over, if you didn’t really love your friend–and the final ice is the Spanx that allowed you to keep your sanity and hit on the cute bartender. The final ice is the compression garment of the cake world, makes everything look smooth and pretty.
Fondant is tricky and unforgiving. There are several different kinds of fondant, including homemade. The easiest to work with, although the yuckiest to eat, is Wilton’s. It would probably be the most accessible for you because it is the most widely carried. I do recommend using it for beginners because it is the most forgiving and will allow you to get a feel for fondant work before moving on the bitchier fondants. Just tell your guest that it is edible, but that you recommend they peel it off and don’t eat it. I used Fondx, actually pretty tasty but very soft and unforgiving. You can buy it in all different colors but I would recommend white and then color it yourself. Just use gel food coloring instead of liquid and if it gets too goopy, add powdered sugar. Then grab an unspecified amount (just gonna have to guess based on your cake size) and put on a clean surface dusted with powdered sugar. I used a softball size, colored hot pink
Slowly and carefully pick it up (you can use your rolling pin for assistance) and move to the cake. Here is a good picture tutorial from Satin ice: http://www.satinfinefoods.com/how.htm
Starting at the top, gently smooth the fondant. This will cause the bottom of your fondant to have bit of a ruffle effect
You will notice quite a bit of powdered sugar left on your pretty cake. You can buy a brush at cake supply stores, I used a clean make-up blush brush. Just brush the cake until all the sugar is gone. You will still have a light layer. The next step is vodka! Not a shot for the weary baker, but a spray for the cake. Vodka is used in nearly every bakery to clean up cakes and give them a pretty shine. I use a small travel size spray bottle, probably intended to transport hairspray across FAA lines, but works really well in my kitchen. Just spray a light layer over your cake for a pretty, powder sugar free shine
At some point in this decorating furry, I managed to make about 18 mini cupcakes and 3 regular sized cupcakes in black cupcake papers. I also ran out of pink frosting, as well as cream cheese, so I made Vermouth Whipped Cream. Sounds super hard and fancy, right? Not really. In a stand mixer, combine 2 cups heavy cream (or whipping cream, both will work just fine), 1 cup of sugar, 1 shot of vermouth and I added the pink food coloring. beat on high for about 4 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Opposite of the cream cheese, the cream has to be chilled or you’ll be churning butter. Then spoon it into a large Ziplock bag for the cheater piping bag. Cut the corner off, about the size of your pinky nail. Then pipe the whipped cream on in a swirl pattern. Looks SO fancy and it’s easier and faster than any other frosting method.
Then I sprinkled the cupcakes with small pink sugar pearls. I placed them on the cake board at the base of the cake, securing them the the Wilton’s Candy melts that I use so often for my pastry glue. Just put a small amount of candy melts in a glass bowl, microwave for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until melted. Smear a bit on the bottom of each cupcake and place on the cake board.
and stuck two of them in each of the cupcakes to make a two sided skull topper