CUCINA – LE FESTE – CELEBRATIONS
My sister-in-law’s birthday is at the end of October, which means our birthday dinner usually offers some sort of sign of Halloween or fall. This year, I made her a cake in the shape of a pumpkin. I thought it was going to be a fail, and I would not be able to share it with you, dear reader. My back-up plan was $15 to go buy a cake at the supermarket. Instead, however, I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of making this cake, not to mention how pretty the finished product looked. So, here’s how you can make one of your own in time for your Halloween celebration:
2 Boxed cake mixes in your favorite flavor (or your favorite from-scratch birthday cake recipe doubled)
Eggs, oil, and water (in the amount indicated on the box) or whatever you need for the from-scratch recipe
Icing (2 of packaged the packaged kind or from scratch if you prefer)
Red and yellow food coloring
Flat-top ice cream cones
Green icing writing pen
Oven-safe bowl for baking
You can consult Betty Crocker for its instructions, which I used as a guide. I chose boxed carrot cake mixes because that’s a favorite of the birthday girl. Then, I picked up two packages of cream cheese icing. I made the two cake batters and baked each one in my Pyrex bowl, which I had buttered and floured beforehand. After 20 minutes of cooling, I gently pulled each one out of the bowl using a spatula. Then, I let them cool overnight.
The next morning, I cut the top off each cake (just a little bit of it) to make a flat surface. Some people put the cakes in the fridge or freezer at this point to keep the crumbs in place when icing the cake. I didn’t bother. I put all the icing in a bowl and started adding red and yellow food coloring until I reached a desirable shade of orange.
Then, I put two pieces of wax paper that just barely touched each other on top of one of my cake pedestals. I placed the bottom cake on it flat side up.
I first put some of the icing on top of the flat surface of the bottom cake. I then placed the other cake flat-side down on the icing and made sure the two cakes aligned properly. I also put wooden skewers through the cake and cut them flush with the cake’s surface just to keep everything in place.
Then, I iced the cake. It was messy at first. Once the cake was pretty well covered with the peachy icing, I used a cake spatula and swiped in an upward motion to make it look more pumpkin like. As you can see, it was hardly perfect. But I liked the natural look of it (or at least that’s what I told myself).
Now, it was time for the details. I put the ice cream cone on top in the center and somewhat askew. Then, I added swirls of green with the icing pen I bought at the supermarket to make it look like vines.
Finally, I used a large, flat spatula to carefully lift the whole cake from the wax paper covered pedestal to the cardboard tray for bakers that I had picked up at Michael’s. I could have simply pulled the two pieces of wax paper out from the under the cake. But I like to torture myself. Seriously, I wanted to have room for the spider web with my sister-in-law’s name on it. (I made that with a foam spider web I had from a previous Halloween and Cricut-cut letters on orange glitter card stock.) The last step was adhering the spider web using two little dabs of green icing to the back and adding more vines to the bottom of the tray.
Di Meglio has written the Our Paesani column for ItaliansRus.com since 2003. You can follow the Italian Mamma on Facebook or Twitter @ItalianMamma10. For more handmade crafts and party gear, visit the Italian Mamma store on Etsy.