For the July Daring Baker’s Challenge, Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to bake a cake. But not just any cake; she asked us to add in a special surprise for our eyes as well as our taste buds!
Before I get to the real blog post, I need to start off by saying IF YOU ARE RELATED TO ME AND READING THIS (*tara*lona*), YOU ARE BEING LET IN ON A SECRET. KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! This is part of a Daring Baker’s Challenge, and those are always posted on the 27th of the month.
I was super excited to see that the July Daring Baker’s Challenge was to bake a surprise-inside cake. Anyone who has spent long enough looking at food-related websites (or Pinterest) has seen some version of a surprise-inside cake. I understood the mechanics of hidden image/surprise-inside cakes, but had never really thought about making one myself until recently. We’ve got a special family event coming up soon, and I naturally volunteered to bake the cake. It was then that I started thinking of actually making a surprise-inside cake to try something new and extra-special.
And then, as fate should have it, the Daring Baker’s Challenge for July was announced, and it became the perfect chance to practice the surprise-inside technique before baking my special celebratory cake in August. To fit with the theme of my cake, I (okay, it was Ma’s suggestion) found a gingerbread man and woman. In the end, they looked like a dancing couple. Pretty perfect for a wedding anniversary, right?
The technique is actually pretty basic. You don’t need any fancy equipment, just a relatively sturdy cake, normal loaf pans, a cookie cutter or two, and an offset spatula. And food coloring, if you’re making your two cakes from the same color batter. I chose blue because the final version of this cake will be to celebrate a sapphire anniversary!
For this challenge, I browsed through some other posts about surprise-inside cakes, and decided to make mine a pound cake. Pound cakes are simple, require no special ingredients, and seemed like they should hold up well (which they did). Since this was just practice and I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, I didn’t take any step-by-step photos, but if you look around there are plenty of tutorials elsewhere. For baking basics I often turn to Martha Stewart, and I did that again here for a pound cake recipe.
All in all, I’m pretty pleased with this. It’s not 100% perfect (see missing arm of gingerbreadman), but I’m hoping version #2 will come out better (if not perfect)…hopefully all arms will stay in place on my gingerbread people!
Surprise-Inside Pound Cake
The proportions listed below are for one cake, you will need to make two cakes (that is, two batches from this recipe) to complete the “surprise-inside” look. The first batch will create the shape inside your pound cake loaf, so color the first batch whatever color you’d like if you want the shapes to be colored like mine are, making the batter slightly brighter than you think will be necessary to account for any change of color while baking.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups flour
- zest of one lemon or lime
- food coloring
- a cookie cutter that is no larger than your pound cake loaf
- offset spatula
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 4 1/2 x 8 1/2″ loaf pan.
With a mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating each until fully incorporated. Add in salt, vanilla, and zest. With a mixer on low, beat in flour gradually. Add food coloring, if desired. Do not overmix.
Pour into loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely, first in the pan. Remove to a wire rack after 15 minutes.
Once the cake is completely cool, slice the entire cake into 1/2″ thick pieces. Using your cookie cutter, cut out enough shapes (usually one per slice) to fit the length of your loaf pan.
Follow above instructions to make a second batch of pound cake. You do not have to color this batch if you colored your cut-out shapes.
After your second batch of pound cake batter is prepared, spread a little on the bottom and sides of the pan. Lay your cut-out shapes of cake in the pan. Squish them nice and tight against each other, and against the two short ends of the pan. If you want the shapes to “float” (like the woman is in my cake), spread a thicker layer of batter on the bottom. Cover with remaining cake batter, using the offset spatula to assist. Bake and cool according to above instructions.
Voila! You’re finished!
Posted to Sweet & Savoury Sunday!