Construction Cake

I'm convinced that there isn't enough cake in my life. In any given year I get to make two cakes, one for my husband in July and one for my son in September. My husband generally requests German chocolate cake which is pretty straight forward for me at this point; I've been baking him the same cake for over 10 years now. If I try to change things up on him he tells me to stop messing with perfection.

These days I tend to listen.

My son's cake on the other hand is one I look forward to ever year. It's so much fun sitting down and sketching out ideas or browsing pinterest for inspiration. I love to see his eyes light up when he first sees his cake, although this year it wasn't a complete surprise because he came in the kitchen to "help" me make it. What he really wanted to do is steal as of the chocolate rocks and chocolate covered almonds as he could get his hands on. Being a good mom I bought an extra half pound so he could happily munch away and I could get the icing and decorations on the cake. This is the first year I've had the cake ready before 9pm, which means my time management skills must be improving. We decided to have cake before dinner and once we were done there was hardly enough left for the next day. Overall, I'd say the cake was a huge hit, now I just need to come up with an idea for next year.

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Vanilla Bean and Almond Layer Cake

makes two 9 inch layers

Ingredients

cake layers

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½  teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1½ teaspoons pure almond extract
1 vanilla bean
1 cup buttermilk

optional

yellow gel food coloring

chocolate buttercream

6 ounces extra dark chocolate chips (63% cocoa)
⅓ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
pinch of salt
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

tools

Two 9 inch round cake pans
stand mixer
whisk
bowl scraper
butter knife
double boiler or sauce pan and mixing bowl
icing spatula

decorations

Directions

cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter both 9 inch cake pans and place a parchment round in the bottom to prevent the cake from sticking.
  • Separate the yolk and whites from two of the eggs and set aside.
  • In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt then whisk ingredients until combined.
  • Using a stand mixer set on medium, add butter and beat with the paddle attachment until soft and creamy. Add sugar and beat for an additional two minutes.
  • Add eggs one at a time, then egg yolks making sure to beat the mixture for 1 minute each time you add an egg. Periodically stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. 
  • Open vanilla bean pod with a knife and scrape the insides into the batter. Add almond extract and optional yellow food coloring.
  • Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and alternately add buttermilk and dry ingredients. 
  • Scrape down the bowl, then transfer batter to the greased cake pans ensuring the batter is evenly distributed. Bake for 26 - 30 minutes or until the cakes are done in the center and start to pull away from the sides of the pan. You can check if the cakes are done by inserting a toothpick into the center, if it comes out clean you're cakes are ready to be removed from the oven.
  • Allow cakes to cool for 5 minutes on the stove before running a butter knife around the edges. Invert over a cooling rack and peel off the parchment paper. Once the layers have cooled they can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored overnight at room temperature or placed in the freezer for up to 2 months.

buttercream icing

  • In a double boiler add chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and half of the brown sugar. Stir occasionally until all of the chocolate is melted and the sugar is evenly distributed. Remove from the heat, but do not allow to cool completely. 
  • Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment add unsalted butter and beat on medium for 2 minutes or until the butter is soft and fluffy. Add remaining brown sugar and continue to beat for an additional 2 - 3 minutes. Add salt and vanilla extract, then reduce the speed of the mixer to low.
  • Slowly add the chocolate from the double-boiler, then the confectioners' sugar. Once both ingredients have been added set the mixer speed to medium and continue to beat for several minutes. The icing should be light and fluffy and ready to use immediately.

decorating

  • Once the cake layers have cooled you can begin assembling the cake. I suggest making the cake layers a day in advance to allow ample time for cooling.
  • If necessary, trim the cake tops so they are level. Place 1 layer on your serving plate or stand, add a good sized amount of icing to the top and spread it out evenly.
  • Place the second cake layer and remove a good sized chunk to create the dirt pit. Nibble on the remains as necessary (it's important to taste test along the way!) 
  • Spread icing on the top and sides of the cake. You can use an icing knife to make this step easier, but don't feel like you need to make the icing completely smooth. Make sure there is ample icing in the pit so the "dirt" doesn't slide when you move the cake.
  • Crumble the brownie brittle or Oreo cookies, add it to the pit, and top with a few chocolate rocks. 
  • Wipe away any excess icing on your serving platter. Place your construction vehicles and candle, then add dark chocolate almonds around the base of the cake for a more finished look.

Notes

You may be able to find the dark chocolate covered almonds and chocolate rocks in the bulk bins at your local grocery store. Otherwise they can be ordered from Amazon using the links above.

Recipe Inspiration

Cake layers and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting adapted from Dorie Greenspan's 

Baking: From My Home to Yours

Disclosure

This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

Dinosaur Bones S'mores Cake

Sometimes being in my kitchen is like a comedy of errors, nothing wanted to go right with this cake. Our air conditioner has been barely working for months and we had a heat wave in September during my son's party. It was 90°F and with no working air conditioner and 5 crock-pots running all day for the chili buffet, it was just a bit hot in the house. Which means the marshmallow cream for this cake melted. I was so frustrated by the end I forgot to take a good photograph of the cake, so please forgive the cellphone photo. I almost didn't post this recipe, but the cake was just so cool I had to share, even if it didn't turn out exactly how I wanted.

Disclosure

This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

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Dinosaur Bones S'mores Paleontology Cake aka Jurrasicake

Ingredients for Cake Layers:

¾ cup butter 
1 cup white sugar 
3 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder 
2 cups graham flour
1 cup milk 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons mild molasses 

Optional

Cinnamon (the birthday boy is allergic, so I left this out)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides with butter.
  • In a mixing bowl cream butter, sugar, vanilla extract and molasses together. Add eggs one at a time and continue to mix.
  • Add baking powder and graham flour alternately with milk and mix well. 
  • Divide mixture evenly between the two cake pans and bake at 350°F for 35 - 40 minutes 

Ingredients for Marshmallow Frosting:

8 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
confectioners sugar 

Necessary Tools:

Double boiler or saucepan and mixing bowl

Directions:

  • Fill the bottom of double boiler with a few of inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Combine egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in a mixing bowl and combine by hand.
  • Transfer to double boiler, making sure water is not touching the bowl. Heat egg white mixture to about 120°F. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved, approximately 6 minutes.
  • Transfer egg white mixture to stand mixer. On medium, using the whisk attachment, whist for 1 minute. Increase mixer speed to high and whisk until stiff peaks form. This will take about 5 minutes. 
  • Add vanilla extract and whisk until well incorporated.

Before frosting the cake make sure the layers are completely cool or the frosting will melt

  • Remove of marshmallow cream and frost the top of the bottom layer. Place second layer on top.
  • Slowly add ¼ cup cocoa powder to remaining marshmallow cream, you may not need the entire amount. Mix by hand until incorporated.
  • If your icing falls due to over mixing or heat you can add confectioners sugar in small amounts until a similar consistency is reached. I ended up using about ½ cup.
  • If you're using dinosaur bones to decorate, remove a sizable chunk of the top layer and push bones gently in.
  • Frost top and sides of cake and decorate with chocolate rocks.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

This cake does not hold up well if not served immediately. The marshmallow cream melts and runs everywhere. My test cake left me with a puddle all over my fridge and it only sat for 2 hours.

Decorations 

Chocolate Rocks Candy Nuggets 1LB Bag or try your local grocery store bulk bins

Dinosaur Skeleton Fossil Playset: 12 Pieces

Update 26 January 2014 - It seems that not everyone is getting the same size figures I did when I ordered mine in August 2013 and the difference in size is causing problems. I originally ordered Rhode Island Novelty Assorted Dinosaur Fossil Skeleton 5-6" Figures, 12-Piece from ToysNGamesEtc. They are quite a bit smaller than currently listed in the description, closer to 3-4" and come in a small zipper bag with a blue edge (see photos below.) It took some time, but I finally found my original package of dinosaurs. Who knew a 2 year old could have so many hiding places for his toys? I've also updated my links above, I found another seller who has the same set I purchased last year. If you are still having trouble tracking these down try Dollar Tree or ToysRUs, I've seen similar products sold there on occasion. 

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Recipe Inspiration

Toasted Marshmallow Frosting 

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Edited 8 November 2013

Today is the one day I was planning on not spending all day on the internet, but I just got a phone call from my husband and apparently my cake made the front page of the internet.  Welcome fellow Redditors, thanks for stopping by to check out my cake.

Redditor AJam has dubbed this Jurrasicake and I think the name rocks (feel free to groan now)

As of 4pm CST there are over 500,000 views on Imgur. Thanks Reddit!

One of my Steepster friends pointed out this was also posted on I fucking love science

As of 9pm CST there are over 750,000 views on Imgur. Absolutely amazing!

The site has been going down off and on since about 6pm CST. Sorry about that, squarespace is working on the issue and hopefully it will be resolved soon. If you happen to be one of my regular readers, my Friday post has been postponed until the problem has been resolved. I'll keep you all updated via Twitter over the weekend.

Edited 9 November 2013

In 24 hours I've had over 940,000 views on imgur alone, if you add in the likes from I fucking love science that is over 1 million times my image has been viewed, liked, and shared. I'd like to thank everyone for the wonderful comments and messages you've posted. It has been so much fun reading them and hearing how many of you want to make this cake for someone special. If you do make this cake I would love to see photos so contact me through the blog and I'll let you know where to send them. If I get enough I'll do a compilation post at some point in the future.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jenn aka Short Sorceress