For A's 4th birthday, he wanted a rocket cake. It was easy to find all different kinds of cakes on the internet, but after going to Michael's I settled on this cake which needed a football shaped pan (so now I am set for all those Super Bowl parties).
I have a great recipe for chocolate cake in my Greystone Bakery Cookbook, one that I used to know by heart, but now I can't remember it exactly or where the cookbook disappeared to. So I tried making a chocolate cake using this recipe from baking Bites. It is a wacky cake which doesn't have eggs or dairy and relies on baking powder and vinegar to make it rise. Well, it didn't rise much and was very dense when it came out of the oven. Maybe my baking powder was too old or the batter needed to spread out more to bake correctly. So back to the drawing board on Saturday morning...
Saturday morning I headed over to Safeway for a box of chocolate cake, which baked up just fine. I split it in two and spread a thin layer of huckleberry jam (from our recent visit to Montana) and then made a layer of whipped chocolate ganache. I just estimated the amounts: a large handful of bittersweet chocolate chips and some cream, warmed on top of the stove to melt the chocolate. I let it cool and then tried to whip it in my mixer. I think it need to be colder since it was getting thicker but not thick enough for a cake. Into the freezer it went. And then I forgot about it for a while. When I took it out, it was definitely frozen. I broke up the chunks a bit and then started whipping. I added more cream to loosen up the chunks and finally it came together with a spreadable consistency.
Now, onto the buttercream. I ended up using an Italian Meringue Buttercream from Martha Stewart. I made the sugar syrup, whipped up the egg whites, and slowly poured in the hot syrup. It made a big fluffy mass of whipped egg whites. Then I added the butter and it deflated into a butter soup. I had waited 5 minutes for the whites to cool down, but maybe it should have been a few minutes longer? Instead of stopping, I kept added the butter and slowly it turned into frosting. At one point, it looked fairly curdled, but from my Daring Bakers experiences with Buttercream, more beating should fix the problem. So more beating and it came together.
I colored most of the frosting with violet food coloring, and left some out for the smoke and fire at the bottom. For the fire at the bottom, I made yellow icing and orange icing and then put them into the decorating bag together without mixing. One idea that I got from some other site was to put Andrew's picture in the window of the rocket. I cut one of his school pictures into a circle and then wrapped it in saran wrap. It ended up looking pretty good and tasted good with the filling.