HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!
At long last (and after 15 hours of decorating) I give you the mother of all cakes: the Minecraft TNT Block Cake. All will bask in its splendor. (I have had two hours of sleep and I want to die a little.) As always, I will be the first to admit to you that I fucked up. Several times, in fact. However, the end result is nothing short of spectacular. Worth repeating? Sure, but not any time soon. I should have known when the craft and grocery store cashiers gave me a spirited pep talk that I was in for it. Do I ever learn?
What makes this cake so challenging, you ask?
- The scale. This. Cake. Is. Massive.
- Decoration, decoration, decoration.The fondant work is nothing short of intense.
The recipe used for this cake is a red velvet cake recipe with cream cheese frosting. Unfortunately, I’m an idiot and replaced liquid food coloring with gel food coloring because I listened to other people instead of following my instincts. That… is the only significant fuck-up you’ll notice. However, I did end up with a rather lovely, light and fluffy cake so I can’t even be mad. It’s just… not red. Oh bloody well. The flavor is outstanding and the frosting is perfectly creamy, spreadable, and delicious. Even the store-bought fondant (which I’ve never used before in my life) was relatively easy to work with. Even after all the math.
Yes, you read correctly: this cake requires math. It’s not particularly challenging math but it is annoying and repetitive. But hey, if I can do it, absolutely you can do it too.
Unfortunately a little late this week. Looking for more 4th of July appropriate recipes? I think Captain America Fruit Pizza would be right up your alley.
Ready? Let’s go.
Gamers, grab your mats:
- 2 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon cake flour or 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 1-ounce bottle)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons water
- 2 sticks unsalted butter – look at the salt listed above and make sure you get unsalted, seriously.
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
NOTE: This makes two 9″ square cakes. Guess what? Once the first batch is out of the oven you get to double the recipe! Woo!
- 1 1/2 sticks butter (you guessed it- unsalted)
- 1 pound (2 8-ounce packages) cream cheese
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk, if needed
- Wilton brand, one box each of red, yellow, white, and black.
- 8 black Twizzlers, halved. I used Hershey’s Chocolate Twizzlers because fuck licorice.
- Matches or a lighter
NOTE: This can be purchased from your local craft store.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch square cake pans with butter, then flour. Tap out any excess flour.
Sift flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a medium-ish bowl. Twice. Yes, I know. just do it.
Whisk cocoa powder, liquid food coloring, and water together until smooth.
Beat butter in a giant bowl using an electric mixer. You could also use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment if you have that luxury. I don’t.
Add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating for 15 seconds after each addition. Scrape bowl down as needed. The final result should be fluffy and pale cream in color. Yes, I do art and I know more than ROY G. BIV.
Add eggs, one at a time.
Scrape down sides of bowl and add red (LOL) cocoa mixture. Mix until thoroughly incorporated.
Okay, tricky part: pay attention.On low speed, alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, starting and ending with flour mixture. I went flour-milk-flour-milk-flour.
Once all ingredients are incorporated, beat 10-12 strokes with your spatula if using cake flour, or 2-3 strokes if using regular flour. The instructions said not to overwork the batter which made me paranoid. Basically means bare minimum. Attempt to divide batter ecenly between two cake pans and spread tops evenly with aforementioned spatula.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto a rack to cool the rest of the way, about an hour.
**WASH OUT EVERYTHING YOU JUST USED AND DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN. YOU NEED TWO MORE CAKES.**
From my experience, I would recommend making the first batch of cakes. While the first batch is baking, make second batch and frosting. By then you should be able to turn out your first batch, wash out the pans, and start your second batch. This will save you so freaking much time and effort later on.
For the frosting, make sure butter and cream cheese are at room temperature. Beat butter in a large bowl on medium-high using your electric mixture until it’s creamy. Stand mixer with paddle attachment is fine, too, but are you really that much of a masochist? That much cleaning, really? Add cream cheese and keep beating to death until things turn fluffy, white, and smooth. Should be about a minute. Turn mixer back down to low and add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating for about 30 seconds after each addition until everything’s all creamy, fluffy, and smooth. Add a bit of milk if it comes out a little stiff.
I didn’t take pictures of this due to a severe time crunch and not being blessed with having six arms. Sorry.
So, legitimately I did not realize this is a thing but apparently there are a lot of people who have issues stacking cakes. If that’s you, I’m sorry. Let me help, if I can. I tend to get great results.
First thing: pick your cake stand/cake plate/serving thing/whatever. I used a 14″ grease-proof cardboard pizza circle. Take a blob of canned buttercream frosting and slap it down in the center. Spread it out a bit, but not so much that it will show when you put the cake down. This is your glue, okay? Okay. There are times when you shouldn’t be a hero and go for homemade; this is one of those times. Always keep a small tub of store-bought frosting handy, you’ll never know when you’ll need it and they keep in the fridge for ages.
Transfer one of your cake layers, bottom side up,to your serving dish thing. Try to get it centered as best as you can.
Spoon about a cup of frosting into the center of this layer. I actually don’t measure this part and do about two gravy ladle-fulls. (It’s a measurement if I want it to be, dammit.) Most people recommend using an icing or rubber spatula, but I find this to be a pain in the ass. I use a butter knife and gently spread the frosting from the center out to the edges without going over. Add your second layer to the cake, bottom side up again, and repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Lightly frost the top and sides of your cake with the leftovers, pushing the frosting into the crevices between the layers.
Refrigerate for about an hour to allow everything to set up. But let’s be honest: you’re not getting that fondant done in an hour. Keep the cake in the fridge until you absolutely need it.
Now, the scary part: fondant.
“Flour” your work surface with powdered sugar to prevent fondant from sticking. Open your red, yellow, and black colors. You will be making 5 colors: deep burgundy, crimson, red, red-orange, and orange. I started by dividing my red into 5 smaller chunks, then cutting off a bit of yellow and black.
Do each color one at a time. Knead your fondant on your work surface until it is soft and malleable. To mix colors, add a chunk of color to the primary color. Knead the colors together until you have one solid color. For the darker reds, you will only need to use the smallest amount of black.
Set four colors aside in individual sealed plastic baggies. Roll individual fondant color out with a fondant roller or rolling pin as thin as possible, then a little thinner, about 1/8″. Transfer rolled fondant to grid work surface. I bought a glass one from my local craft store. Your goal here is to cut your fondant into strips. Strips will need to be 1/2″ wide and as tall as your stacked cake. My strips ended up being about 7 inches long. You’ll want at least 16 strips of deep burgundy, crimson, red, and red-orange.
You’ll be doing this for a while…
The orange ball of fondant is going to be your topper. You’ll want to cut a ~9″ square.
Many hours later, you’re ready for assembly. Starting at a corner, your color order will be burgundy, crimson, red, red-orange. This should be repeated three more times for a total of four rows. See below:
Carefully stick the fondant strips to the sides of the cake. Press lightly.
Snip off any extra fondant sticking out of the top and place your fondant square over the top of the cake.
Trim off any excess fondant hanging over the sides. Next, white wrappings. You’ll need to cut four 3″x8 1/2″ white bars. Easiest. Cutting. Ever.
A little more assembly now: dampen the back of the white bars one at a time and stick to the side of your cake. Like so:
Now for the TNT text. I made my letters 2″ tall and 1/2″ wide. Stencil from computer paper.
Same deal as the white bars; dampen the back and stick to the white. Insert halved Twizzlers in four rows of four into the top of the cake. Finished!
Now, excuse me while I light a sparkler on a flammable cake at 2am in my kitchen, a mere two hours before I have to get up for work and 10 feet from the smoke detector. We like to live dangerously here.
Original recipe can be found on CHOW.com.
And of course, an obligatory video:
Welp. I don’t know about you but I feel worked to the bone. I also feel like a little change of pace is necessary. That’s right, next week we’re going savory!
Coming Up Next: Chaliapin Steak from the anime/manga Shokugeki no Soma (Translation: Food Wars!). There’s going to be a great story to go with this one; stick around!