Monday, September 26, 2011

Ribbon Birthday Cake — Four Layers and Flavors, One Cake

For my mom's 18th birthday, my aunt and uncle baked her this aesthetically pleasing and tastebud stimulating Ribbon Birthday Cake. This was years ago, and the recipe has been preserved on a piece of notebook paper in a binder. 

For my cousin's birthday this weekend, I thought it would be fun to replicate the cake.

Clockwise from top left: My aunt and uncle x 2, my mom and her cake, my mom and grandpa, my grandma, my aunt and uncle with mom and friends

Close-up of mom and her cake

My cousin and his cake

Last time this cake was made, it was a little slanted. I was determined to make a straight cake that didn't slant, and possibly in the process ruined the frosting. The cake was delicious though, so let's start there!

Ribbon Birthday Cake: (cake #1)
Origin unknown

Lemon and Chocolate Layers:
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract  + a few drops yellow food coloring
  • 1 1/2 of 1 ounce squares baking chocolate + 1 tablespoon milk

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy
  • Add eggs, one at a time
  • Beat until fluffy
  • Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk
  • Pour half of batter into another bowl and add lemon extract and yellow food coloring to 1/2 batter
  • Melt chocolate with milk (about 15 seconds in microwave) and add to other 1/2 batter once chocolate is slightly cooled
  • Pour each batter into greased 9 inch cake pan
  • Bake for 25 minutes

Lowell Inn Cake (cake #2)
Origin unknown, though probably from a Lowell Inn in Madison, Wisconsin

Silver and pink layers:
  • Meringue: 
    • 5 egg whites
    • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 2/3 cups cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract + few drops red food coloring

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Beat egg whites until foamy
  • Add 1/2 cup sugar gradually, beating until soft peaks form
  • In another bowl, cream shortening, 1 1/4 cup sugar, and vanilla
  • Add dry ingredients alternately with milk
  • Add meringue and stir until blended
  • Flavor half batter with peppermint extract and tint pink
  • Distribute each 1/2 batter into a greased 9 inch cake pan and bake for 30 minutes

Stack layers: chocolate, lemon, peppermint, and silver. (Silver is fancy for White)

(I found it helpful to freeze the layers overnight first, each individually wrapped in 2 big pieces of saran wrap to prevent freezer burn)

Ribbon Cake Frosting (Boiled Frosting)

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 still beaten egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • A few drops red food coloring (if desired)

  • Combine sugar, cream of tartar, and water
  • Boil covered for 3 minutes
  • Uncover and cook to between a soft and firm ball (240 degrees)
  • Pour syrup slowly into egg whites, beating constantly with electric beater
  • Add vanilla and food coloring
  • Beat until spreading consistency

Now this last direction is what killed me. What exactly should the spreading consistency of a boiled frosting look like? Mine turned out like marshmallow fluff — smooth, melty, and sticky. Not right. 

After much online research, I've gathered that boiled frosting should be light and fluffy.

Where did I go wrong? Anyone out there who knows ANYTHING about making boiled frosting, please share with me. My best guess is that I beat the frosting for too long, but I really have no idea. HELP!

My frosting also melted. And melted. And melted.

But look at this gorgeous interior!

Topped with a Taz!

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