I ain’t got time to bake

Actually, I had a little time to bake, on Friday night, when for some reason my friends decided we needed to watch Predator. I can’t remember why we needed to do this, or why I needed to bake a cake to go with it, but it all seemed very important at the time. Therefore, cake!

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There are 4 parts to this recipe: the cake layers, Predator’s green blood (a.k.a. vanilla pudding), buttercream frosting, and strawberry sauce.

Basic Yellow Cake

(Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cook Book)

  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temp
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk, room temp
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat 2 9-inch round pans with non-stick spray (I like Pam for Baking–if you plan to use regular vegetable oil spray or Crisco, you may need to line the bottoms with parchment paper to keep the layers from sticking).

  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

  3. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla.

  4. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in alternating portions of the flour and milk: 1/3 of flour mix, 1/2 of milk, 1/3 of flour, 1/2 of milk, 1/3 of flour. Scrape the bowl with a spatula, the usual.

  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and shake gently to level. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 20-25 minutes depending on your oven. Allow the cake layers to cool completely before assembling the cake.

Green Blood Filling

While you can definitely make better and fancier cake fillings, I was in a bit of a hurry and settled for vanilla Cook and Serve pudding mix.

  • 1 box Cook and Serve vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Green food coloring (I used paste, because I’m uppity like that)

Combine pudding mix and milk and stir until dissolved, then add food coloring as desired. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until pudding thickens and comes to a boil. Pour into a new container and place into the fridge to cool. You can keep a skin from forming on top by pressing plastic wrap directly on the surface of the (slightly cooled) pudding, or simply scoop the skin out of the way when it comes time to fill the cake.

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Strawberry Sauce

This is a super easy way to make a fruit sauce that is also great on ice cream, pancakes, whatever. The sugar pulls moisture out of the fruit to make a tasty glaze.

  • 1lb strawberries
  • 1/4 cup white sugar

Cut strawberries into small pieces, reserving a few to slice prettily and decorate the top of the cake. Mix sugar into cut berries and let sit, stirring occasionally, for at least 30 minute before serving.

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Buttercream Frosting

Classic Wilton-style vanilla buttercream, quick to make and great for piping decorations, but the taste is, in my opinion, meh. I’ll be experimenting with different styles of buttercream in the future, so stay tuned. In this recipe, using part Crisco makes the frosting pipe more easily and hold up better over time. I always use the butter flavored variety because it pains me to replace delicious butter with a plant product, and I’ve convinced myself it’s less awful this way.

  • 3/4 cup butter flavored Crisco
  • 3/4 cup unsalted (!!!) butter, softened
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 cups sifted powdered sugar (about 1.5lbs)
  • 3-5 tbsp milk

In a large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer until fluffy. Add vanilla. Add sugar gradually and mix well, scraping sides and bottom of bowl often. Add milk 1 tbsp at a time while mixing until the frosting reaches the desired consistency. I added 3 tbsp, took some out to use for piping, then added 2 more tbsp to reach a good spreading consistency for the top and sides of the cake.

Construction

Flip the first cooled cake layer out of its pan and onto a large cake plate. Using the reserved stiff icing, pipe an icing dam around the outside edge of the cake layer (this will keep the filling from oozing out the sides when the top layer is added). Here, I set up the piping bag with Ateco tip 829 in preparation for decorating the top of the cake.

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Yay blurry cell phone pics! Anyway, fill inside the icing dam with cooled pudding, then add a bit of the strawberry sauce on top.

Flip the second cake layer out of its pan and onto the filling. Frost the top, then sides of the cake using the softer icing. Pipe decorations as desired with the firmer icing. (As I mentioned previously, I used Ateco 829)

IMAG0757Next, add strawberries! I stuck the reserved strawberry slices into each starburst, then drizzled some of the syrup from the strawberry sauce on top.

IMAG0758And voilà! Wow! So fancy! Much strawberry! Etc., etc. And don’t forget the movie-themed surprise inside!

IMAG0766(this is the most hipster-ish filter I could find on my cell phone camera that didn’t ruin the green filling effect)

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4 comments

  1. If you’re looking for a chocolate frosting (I know you’re not a fan), I have a recipe for something that’s halfway between a buttercream and a ganache that is basically the best thing in the universe.

    1. I’d love to see that recipe–even though I’m not a big fan of chocolate frosting, I often suck it up and make chocolate frosted goodies for others.

      Moving forward, I’m planning to experiment with some fancier styles of buttercream that involve eggs and cooking. I tried that once before and got frosting that sagged at room temp and had the texture of a stick of butter, which kinda turned me off to it, but I’m sure I just need to find a better recipe.

      1. It’s out of The Complete America’s Test Kitchen, part of the recipe for Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Frosting. I thought the cake itself was pretty typical chocolate cake; good but not transcendent. The frosting is sort of a whipped ganache. The chocolate cake with chocolate frosting was a bit much, but I’d definitely like to try this with yellow cake.

        Ingredients

        • 1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped fine (don’t use chips, they don’t melt as well)
        • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
        • 1/3 cup sugar
        • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
        • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
        • 1/4 teaspoon salt
        • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, chilled

        Directions

        1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
        2. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Increase the heat to medium and add the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, 4-5 minutes.
        3. Add the chocolate, butter mixture, and cream to the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to combine.
        4. Place the mixing bowl in an ice bath and stir constantly with a rubber spatula until thick and just beginning to harden against the sides of the bowl (1-2 minutes). It should get to about room temperature.
        5. Put the bowl in the stand mixer (I used a handheld mixer) and beat on medium-high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Stir with rubber spatula until completely smooth.
        6. Frost thy cake. This stuff will hold at room temperature and if I recall actually gets a bit too hard when refrigerated.

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