Nov 03 2011
Ok, let me just get this out there. As evidenced by these pictures, I am not an artist. Not even close. It would have been easier to simply use candy for the eyes, and probably the nose, too. But my real cat has these beautiful green eyes, and I wanted to at least attempt to somewhat replicate them, especially since it was, er, her birthday party. (Yes, we had a little family party for my cat’s 10th birthday. If you have a pet, or a kitty-obsessed toddler in your family, I’m sure you understand.)
I used a cake pattern from McCormick, figuring this would be easy enough to follow. I picked up black food coloring and some cake boards from the craft store, baked the cakes a few days ahead (I individually wrapped the layers and froze them), and made the frosting in my kitchen a couple days ahead of time, as well, and refrigerated that. To transport it all a couple of hours away to my parents, I just piled the frozen cakes on top of the bowl with the frosting – it pays to pick a bowl with a matching lid the same size as the cakes.
The morning of the party, I thawed the cakes and brought the frosting to room temperature. A warm water bath (nestling the smaller bowl in a larger bowl filled partway with warm water) helped speed up the softening time for the frosting.
And then it was time to get to work!
First, I had to cut a circle within a circle – about an inch (2.5 cm) inside the border, but slightly off center, then cut the outer ring into thirds. I needed the inner circle slightly off center because two of those pieces would form the tail, which is slightly tapered at the end.
Out of the third piece of the ring I cut two triangles for ears and two rectangles to represent paws. Don’t worry – the bit of extra cake didn’t go to waste – I sampled it to make sure it tasted good enough to serve to my family. 😉 If the cake had dried out at all, I would have thrown together a quick sugar syrup (equal parts sugar and water) to brush on top. Luckily, the cake tasted great. As in, this recipe is my new go-to recipe for vanilla cake.
Not sure if I could fit the entire cake onto a single board, I lined the board with parchment, just in case I needed to slide the work-in-progress from one board to two boards I had taped together.
Then, it was time to start arranging the pieces in the shape of a cat…
and add blobs of frosting to spread for the crumb coat.
My mom left to run errands while I assembled and frosted the cake, just in case I got frustrated and needed to swear like a sailor. What can I say? I try not to swear in front of my mom, and she knows it.
But for the record, I did not utter a single curse word during that time…
and I could have, maybe should have, as spreading frosting over cut cake isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. Those ears did not want to stay put, but a little extra frosting helped seal everything together.
For the eyes I had purchased a tube of green decorator icing very close to the color I wanted for the eyes. I also picked up a tube of black gel icing (the proximity to Halloween meant all stores were sold out of standard black decorator icing), thinking perhaps I could use it for the nose, whiskers, and mouth, but the consistency was simply too runny for detail work.
So, I went back to my remaining black chocolate frosting (I kept a little aside for an emergency such as this), and added a fair amount of black food color to darken it even more. What’s the point of piping on facial features if no one can see them? (Even if my 3 year old niece likely could have done a better job with the piping.)
To try to replicate the shape of my cat’s eyes as closely as possible, I made her pose for me. If you’re familiar with cats, you probably won’t be shocked to learn that she had absolutely no interest in posing any longer than…about half a second.
Can I just blame her for my elementary-looking kitty facial features???
A couple of notes about supplies:
And finally, the cake boards also came from JoAnn.