Granddaughter Grace’s 2nd birthday was Friday, June 1 and her party was Saturday the 2nd. For Mother’s Day, Fran and I met the rest of the family at the San Diego Zoo sending Grace to near Nirvana with all the animals. In the following weeks she visited the Los Angeles Zoo. She fed the giraffe and when she tried to pet it, the zoo keeper said, “No, no, no, don’t pet him,” so now every time she sees a giraffe Grace says “No, no, no.” She calls lions “Roars,” elephants are the trumpeting sound of an elephant that I cannot spell and zebras, oddly, are just “Zebras.”
So of course I had to make a zoo themed birthday cake with several fondant animal decorations. I made a “roar”, a “no, no, no” a “bbbrrrrreeeeehhhhaaaaa” (sp?), and a zebra from marshmallow fondant. They sat atop a a double layer chocolate cake beside a white meringue “2” cake. The chocolate base cake was frosted with pink Italian Meringue Buttercream and the “2” was frosted with traditional white buttercream.
The white meringue “2” cake and the animals were bordered with green buttercream grass and “Happy Birthday Grace” was piped in purple letters. Purple is currently her favorite color. Unfortunately, my handwriting does not enhance the quality of my piping script. The zebra is eating the grass (because he was falling forward and Fran suggested having him graze to make it look on purpose.)
White Meringue Cake
• 1 cup butter (softened)
• 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
• 3 cups cake flour* (345 grams spooned & measured carefully)
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 cup milk (2% milkfat)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3/4 cup egg whites plus 3 tablespoons (160 g)
1. Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment until they are stiff and form peaks. This may take a minute or two. Pour the egg whites into another bowl and place them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to add them to the batter.
2. Using the same bowl that you used to beat the egg whites, place the softened butter in and cream the butter for about 2 minutes (using the beater blade attachmenuntil it is white in appearance.
3. Add the sugar to the butter and beat until fluffy (about another 1-2 minutes).
4. In a small bowl, combine the flour (measured carefully*), salt and baking powder. Set aside.
5. In another bowl, combine the milk and vanilla extract.
6. Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture alternately with the milk.
7. Add the stiffly beaten eggs to the cake batter. Fold the egg whites in gently. Do not overmix at this point. If you do, your cake will become more dense.
8. Grease and flour 2 9″ round cake pans. Pour the cake batter equally into the prepared cake pans.
9. Bake the cakes at 350 degrees for 25-27 minutes or until the top bounces back when you touch it.
10. Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges and remove them from the pans to a wire rack, allowing them to cool completely.
Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting
https://ofbatteranddough.com/italian-meringue-buttercream-frosting-recipe/ Author: Rebecca Blackwell
Serves: 7 cups
- ½ cup water
- 1¼ cup plus ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. cream of tartar
- 9 large egg whites
- 6 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Combine the water and 1¼ cup sugar in a small saucepan and stir once or twice just to moisten the sugar. Do not stir again; stirring encourages the sugar to crystalize. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and continue to cook until it reaches a temperature between 246 and 250 degrees.
- As soon as you set the syrup to cook, begin the meringue. Beat the egg whites in a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment at medium speed until frothy. While beating, sprinkle in the cream of tartar and then the remaining ⅓ cup sugar. Beat until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. *The goal is to have the syrup at the right temperature and the meringue at the stiff peak stage at the same time. If the syrup is not quite ready, but the meringue is, continue to beat the egg whites with the mixer on the lowest speed until the syrup reaches the desired temperature. If the syrup is done before the meringue is ready, add a very small amount of hot (not cold) water to lower the temperature slightly.
- When the syrup is ready, turn off the mixer and quickly pour about ⅓ cup into the meringue. Immediately turn the mixer to medium-high and then continue to pour the hot syrup into the meringue in a thin, steady stream. Try to keep the syrup from getting on the beater, although some will get on there no matter what you do.
- Continue to beat the meringue with the whisk attachment at medium speed, until you touch the bottom of the bowl and it is cool to the touch. *It’s important to not add the butter before the meringue is completely cool, so that the butter doesn’t melt.
- Turn the mixer to low and add the butter in 2 or 3 tablespoon size chunks. Keep mixing and adding the butter until all 6 sticks are incorporated. If the buttercream doesn’t look completely smooth at this point, just keep beating. It will smooth out. If it looks runny or curdled, the butter has probably melted. Put it in the refrigerator for 20 or 30 minutes and then continue beating until it’s smooth.
- After the butter has been fully incorporated, you can add any flavor additions you like. See ideas below.