For the past few weeks I have been trying out dairy-free cake and icing recipes for Oster’s 1st birthday party. I have used many different cake recipes and substituted soymilk for the cow’s milk and shortening for butter. Most of the cakes came out tasting like corn bread and one recipe even overflowed and sunk in the middle.
Now, I am not saying I am a baker by any means. And usually when I’m trying to attempt to bake it never works. Actually, I consider myself more of a chef with no business touching confectioners’ sugar or flour. If ever asked, my family will tell you instantaneously that I am no Strawberry Shortcake.
When I told my mom that I would be making all of the birthday cakes from scratch her reply was, “Do you think you can really do that?” She wasn’t being rude. She was really looking out for my wellbeing. As she knows, I have a hard time with butter and flour. And since I had to substitute butter for shortening and milk for soy, she knew my kitchen would be a disaster for weeks as I tried out these recipes. Not to mention, my continuous defeat would eventually “break” me. And, of course, being as stubborn as I am…I want to make Oster’s cakes by myself.
Well, she was right. My kitchen was a mess. And I was exhausted from baking and cleaning and baking and cleaning. However, I did find a recipe that worked for both the dairy free cake and dairy free icing. And how happy I was with the turn out!
Oster’s theme was space. I made two rocket ship cakes (one for the guests and one for his smash cake), cupcakes, and a moon cake. In order to make a 9” round cake look like the moon, I needed to use fondant. “What’s fondant?”, I asked the sales associate. She asked me if I ever used it. “No”, was my answer. She suggested that I do not attempt to use it because it is quite difficult for even the most experienced bakers. Well, of course, I want to make this moon cake for my son, so I bought the fondant and called my sister (she IS a baker).
Knowing my lack of skills, my sister nicely tried to talk me out of using the fondant. She gave me some substitute ideas to make the cake look like a moon. I was hesitant to substitute anything else since it took me two weeks to master both the cake and the frosting. I only had three days to make the moon cake. When she realized she couldn’t talk me out of using the fondant, she gave me some great advice (make sure you put a generous amount of frosting ON the cake before you put the fondant on, roll the fondant out on confectioners’ sugar, put some sugar on your rolling pin, and smooth the fondant out with the appropriate tool). Whew!
Well, I took all of her advice and it worked. I did it! Grant it, it took the entire morning and early afternoon on Friday to bake everything and make 4 batches of frosting. I took a break and after Oster went to bed for the evening, Andy and I mixed coloring into the frosting, frosted, and decorated the cakes.
As he put the finishing touches on the guests’ cake, I started the moon cake. I had to dye the fondant gray (with black coloring). Sugar was everywhere and the black dye bled into my fingernails (most of it is out now). I’m thinking positive throughout the entire process as to not get my lack of baker skills in the way of Oster’s first birthday.
We finished all of the cakes at 11pm! Twelve hours until the guests would arrive. We put them on the buffet and went to bed.
Thankfully this fondant did not need to be perfectly smooth in order for the astronauts to land.
Needless to say, I was so pleased with how they turned out. My first venture with “homemade” cakes and frosting. My first time mixing dye. First time using tips. First time using fondant. I was so excited! I know the cakes aren’t perfect but they were for us.