mermaid and narwhal cake - sky-girl's seventh birthday
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Recipe type: Dessert
 
Cake recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction (https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/strawberry-cake/). I doubled her recipe and used two 9-inch pans and one 7-inch pan for the cake, with a little leftover for a short 6-inch cake (which was not used for the final cake). I doubled her recipe, which is reported as such below. Also, I did not use her frosting recipe. I used the German buttercream recipe from a previous post of mine: https://www.storyofakitchen.com/dessert-recipes/rainbow-cake-with-german-buttercream-recipe-sky-girls-fifth-birthday/ .
Ingredients
  • FOR THE STRAWBERRY PUREE:
  • 2 pounds hulled, fresh strawberries (thawed, frozen berries are fine but take longer to cook)
  • FOR THE CAKE:
  • 5 cups (500 g) sifted cake flour (spooned, leveled)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks or 340 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3½ cups (700 g) granulated sugar
  • 10 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup (125 g) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, at room temperature (don't use skim or 2%)
  • 1 cup reduced strawberry puree (SEE ABOVE)
  • FOR THE FROSTING: Follow my German Buttercream recipe (https://www.storyofakitchen.com/dessert-recipes/rainbow-cake-with-german-buttercream-recipe-sky-girls-fifth-birthday/) and add blue/teal food coloring
  • FOR THE FONDANT DECORATIONS: pre-made fondant (or make your own - https://www.storyofakitchen.com/dessert-recipes/marshmallow-fondant-recipe/), tylose powder to help harden it, food coloring gels, and edible ink pens for drawing narwhal eyes.
  • OTHER SUPPLIES: toothpicks and lollipop sticks for fondant decoration support, chopsticks to hold drying decorations in place, 9-inch cake pan (x2), 7-inch cake pan, Americolor food color gels (Black, Sky Blue, Teal, Yellow, Red, Green, Pink, Purple), silver and gold edible glitter (disco dust).
Instructions
  1. IMPORTANT NOTES: Get started early! The fondant shapes must be completely dry before placing on the cake. I started a few days in advance. The strawberry puree must be completely cool before using in the cake. I made the puree in the morning to cool in the fridge before baking the cake layers. Similarly, the German buttercream custard must be totally cool before mixing with the butter and mascarpone. The custard was made the night before I made the frosting the day of the cake-decorating. I'll break it up below:
  2. MAKE YOUR FONDANT SHAPES: I choose to use premade fondant this time, to save time. I mixed in a sprinkle or more of the tylose powder to help strengthen and harden it. Give the drying time about 3 days, especially if you have thick shapes like a narwhal.
  3. MAKE YOUR CAKE LAYERS: Puree the berries in a food processor.
  4. Over medium-low heat and stirring occasionally, reduce the strawberry puree to about 2 cups (I had a little more). Allow it to cool to room temperature before using in cake. Reduction took over an hour for me. This can be made a few days in advance, covered, and stored in the fridge. It can also be frozen for months and thawed before using.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour or use parchment paper in two 9-inch cake pans and one 7-inch cake pan. There will be a little leftover batter (I used in a 6-inch pan and ate it separately.)
  6. Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  7. Use a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment to beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down if needed.
  8. Beat in the egg whites on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes.
  9. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down again if needed.
  10. Run the mixer on low while adding the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated.
  11. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk until just combined. Don't overmix!
  12. Whisk in 1 cup of reduced strawberry puree. Use 1 drop of food coloring if you want more pink. (Use the leftover puree for smoothies or drinks. I froze it in an ice cube tray.)
  13. Pour batter evenly into cake pans.
  14. Bake the 9-inch layers for about 25 minutes and the 7-inch layer about 20 minutes, or until each has a clean cake tester. Every oven is a bit different, so check a few minutes before these times to gauge how fast the layers are cooking.
  15. Cool cakes completely in the pans set on a wire rack. I cooled and wrapped in plastic wrap for a day before assembly the day of the celebration.
  16. THE NIGHT BEFORE OR DAY OF, MAKE THE BUTTERCREAM: I made the custard step of the buttercream the night before to save on cooling time waiting. I finished the buttercream the day of assembly because I didn't want to chill the buttercream and need to re-whip it in the morning before use. See my link here for the recipe: https://www.storyofakitchen.com/dessert-recipes/rainbow-cake-with-german-buttercream-recipe-sky-girls-fifth-birthday/ .
  17. My only addition was Americolor Sky Blue and Teal to make the buttercream "ocean."
  18. ASSEMBLY: Decorating is very unfussy. I didn't try to smooth everything out nor did I do a fancy crumb coat. Between the 9-inch layers, I used a thick layer of buttercream, dolloped on more "ocean" on the sides and top, then added the 7-inch layer and did the same. I swirled the waves in with an offset spatula.
  19. I used an edible ink pen to draw on the narwhal eyes. I thought about putting a smile on it too, but worried if I messed it up, it'd look creepy.
  20. Add the mermaid tail, narwhal front and tail, and the seascape items to the cake. Serve with lots of hugs, virtual for friends and big squeezes for immediate family and housemates.
Recipe by story of a kitchen at https://www.storyofakitchen.com/dessert-recipes/mermaid-and-narwhal-strawberry-cake-recipe-and-tutorial-sky-girls-seventh-birthday/