Spring-Theme Forest Cake
- Using one of the 6-inch round cake pans as a guide, cut out three 6-inch waxed paper circles. Grease and flour the cake pans; place a waxed paper circle in bottom of each pan. Prepare White Cake batter as directed. Divide batter evenly among three 6x2-inch cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Cool as directed.
- Spoon a 1/2 cup of the Creamy White Frosting into a small bowl; cover and set aside to use in Step 9. Using blue gel food coloring, tint the remaining Creamy White Frosting to desired color blue. Fill and frost cake layers with the blue frosting. Set cake aside.
- For marshmallow fondant, in a large microwave-safe bowl combine marshmallows and 3 tablespoons of the water. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 1 minute; stir. Continue to microwave on 100 percent power (high) until melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds and adding the remaining 1 tablespoon water if necessary to make smooth.
- Grease a large mixing bowl and the paddle of a stand mixer with shortening. Pour the melted marshmallow mixture into the mixing bowl. Add the 16-ounce package powdered sugar. Beat with the electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed.
- Transfer the marshmallow-powdered sugar mixture to a greased work surface. Knead until the fondant is smooth. Dust another work surface and a rolling pin with additional powdered sugar. Set aside about one-fourth of the fondant. Place the remaining fondant on the powdered-sugar-dusted surface; roll until 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, rolling into a rectangular shape.
- Using a sharp knife, cut nine or ten tree trunks from the rolled fondant. To give the tree trunks a birch tree look, cut several tiny triangles from sides of each trunk (see photo). Cut several bird shapes from the remaining rolled fondant. Carefully transfer fondant shapes to sheets of waxed paper. Using a small paintbrush and blue gel food coloring, paint the bird shapes blue. (For best results, dab the brush in a little water and then in the food coloring; brush onto bird shapes to paint as desired.) Let stand until dry.
- For the sun cake topper, knead enough yellow gel food coloring into the reserved fondant to color it a bright yellow, kneading until evenly colored. (It helps to grease your hands with a little shortening to prevent the fondant from sticking, plus the added shortening helps create a really smooth shiny surface on the fondant.)
- On a surface lightly dusted with powdered sugar, pat or roll the yellow fondant into a circle about 3 inches in diameter. Using a sharp knife, cut the circle in half crosswise. Carefully remove one half of the circle; cut into six or seven pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece into a cone shape that is about 2 inches long; slightly flatten each cone (these are the rays of the sun). To secure the sun rays, insert a short piece of angel hair pasta into the base of each sun ray and push the other end of the pasta piece into the sun. Let stand until dry. (To prevent the sun rays from sagging, place a few folded paper towels under the rays until they harden enough to hold their shape. You can place the fondant pieces next to a fan to help speed the drying process.)
- Spoon the reserved white frosting into a decorating bag fitted with a small round decorating tip. Carefully position the sun on top of the cake, piping rows of frosting to hold the sun in position. Pipe a line of white frosting on a tree trunk; position trunk on side of cake, pressing gently to secure. Repeat with the remaining trunks, spacing as desired. Pipe a dot of frosting on back of each bird; position birds on trunks as desired.
From the Test Kitchen
Three 6x2-inch round cake pans Sharp knife Small clean paintbrush Several short pieces angel hair pasta Decorating bag Small round decorating tip
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Allow butter and egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease and lightly flour two 9x1-1/2-inch or 8x1-1/2-inch round cake pans; set aside. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add granulated sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until combined. Scrape sides of bowl; beat for 2 minutes more. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Pour batter into the prepared cake pans, spreading evenly.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes for 9-inch pans, 30 to 35 minutes for 8-inch pans, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the centers comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove layers from pans; cool completely on wire racks.
Creamy White Frosting
- In a large mixing bowl beat shortening, vanilla, and almond extract with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add about half of the powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in 2 tablespoons of the milk. Gradually beat in the remaining powdered sugar and enough of the remaining milk to reach spreading consistency.