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How best to bake a big birthday cake?
Posted: 21 January 2008 02:04 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Cakers, I’m looking for some advice, and maybe some common sense.  wink  I’d like to make my daughter’s first birthday cake. It will need to feed about 30 people, and I have no experience baking something that large.

What size or configuration would you suggest? A two-layer 12” cake or a two-tiered (6” and 9” inch layers) cake?

How would you schedule the baking and assembly? (This is the common-sense part.) Part of me wonders if I’m a bit nuts to think I can do this, take care of baby and get the house ready for a big party all at the same time. I love baking, though, and really want my daughter’s first bite of cake to be something I made.

Thanks for any guidance you can provide.

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Posted: 22 January 2008 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hi Keri - I would answer a few questions to help determine what size cake you should make.  What are your decorating skills/plans?  A 2-tier 6” & 9” cake will be more showy, but a single-tier 12” cake will be faster and easier to decorate. 

You can easily make and freeze the cake and buttercream separately in advance - then, when you’re ready to assemble, you’ll have everything you need ready to go.  Depending on your skill level, you might need up to several hours for this.  I wouldn’t assemble the cake more than 24 hours before the party, but if you do make it in advance, be sure to bring the cake to room temp before serving.

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Posted: 22 January 2008 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hi Patrincia,

Thanks for your response. I would say I’m a solid home baker. I’ve done a lot of baking, taken classes. When I decorate a cake, though, I usually keep it pretty simple, using a bench knife or icing comb and non-edible decorations (flowers, ribbons, etc.). Probably the only time I do any piping is decorating cookies at Christmas. My skills there are nothing worth writing home about!

I was thinking of doing a coconut cake—yellow cake layers brushed with raspberry conserve, frosted with vanilla buttercream and sprinkled with toasted coconut. My daughter was born in March, so I was planning a “in with a lion, out with a lamb” theme. (Thus a cake wooly with coconut seemed appropriate.)

In Rose’s Celebrations, Rose shows a cheesecake decorated with a line of animals stamped from biscuit and coated in chocolate. I was thinking of trying something along those lines with lamb and lion cookie cutters.

What do you think?

By the way, I’m a longtime lurker on these forums and have very much enjoyed seeing your handiwork!

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Posted: 22 January 2008 06:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Keri - you are too kind!

I think you will have one very happy little birthday girl in March smile.  Your cake sounds wonderful!!!  I just looked up the cheesecake you mentioned… great idea to decorate your cake with chocolate covered lions and lambs (you could use pastel colored candy melt coating too, although it wouldn’t taste as good as quality chocolate).  I think a 6” and 9” stacked cake would look wonderful decorated this way!  (and you could put a #1 candle or chocolate covered biscuit on top of the top tier).  I hope you will post a photo of the finished cake!

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Posted: 25 January 2008 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Patrinicia,

Thanks for the tip on pastel candy melt. I think that would work perfectly! Do you mind if I pick your brain a little more?

If I bake and freeze the cakes in advance, how long will they need to defrost before I can decorate them?

Is buttercream best defrosted in the fridge or at room temperature?

Thanks so much!
Keri

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Posted: 25 January 2008 02:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Hi Keri - I usually defrost my cakes in the fridge overnight, but I’ve forced them to defrost on the counter for a few hours too… which ever way you do it, be sure to keep the cakes wrapped while defrosting - so any possible condensation will form on the wrapping, not the cake. 

For Rose’s buttercreams… I usually defrost in the fridge over night before I bring it to room temp on the counter, but I know some like to just thaw it on the counter.  I believe Hector even thaws it using the microwave.  Maybe some others will post their preferences for you.  Just be sure to keep it covered until it reaches room temp, and be sure it’s room temp before you re-whip it.

By the way, you can assemble the cake while the cake layers are still cold (or even slightly frozen), but you can’t use buttercream when it’s cold - it must be used at room temp.

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Posted: 29 January 2008 01:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I have to admit that a lot of times I will do the crumb coat while the cake is still cold and sometimes even thefinal coat.  For an amateur, I’ve found it helps me make better corners and edges. - Just a thought… smile

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Posted: 29 January 2008 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Agreed - a cold cake is easier to decorate.

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Posted: 17 February 2008 02:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Thanks for the tip, very helpful! I just got my 6” pans in the mail, so I’m going to bake next week.

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Posted: 08 April 2008 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Keri and Patrincia,

I have volunteered to make a cake for a friend’s 60th birthday party at which there will be around 30 guests. My friend wants a white cake, so I plan to bake the White Velvet Butter Cake from TCB, but wondered how to get from 12 servings to 30. I was glad to see Keri’s statement, and Patrincia’s apparent agreement, that either a 6” & 9” or a 12” would be the appropriate size.  I assume that all tiers are 2 layers each. Am I interpreting you correctly?

Part of my confusion is that on page 483 in TCB, the chart states that one 12” layer serves 40 people, and the chart on page 490 states that 2 layers of 12” makes 75 servings (not 80). Am I missing something, or just splitting hairs?. But in any case, it seems more comfortable to assume that a 2-layer 12” cake works for a party for 30.

Then, if I prefer the 6” & 9” version, do I follow the Rose factor process and chart (p. 490) for adjusting the recipe to fit pans that aren’t the 9” ones called for in the original recipe?

Although I have used my TCB avidly for about 15 years, I have never done more than one recipe at a time. I took 2 cakes to my Dad’s 80th birthday, rather than figure all this stuff out.  Perhaps you’d be kind enough to help me move to the next level. The wimp in me is tempted just to make 3 cakes!

Thanks.

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Posted: 08 April 2008 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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But wait! 

If the White Velvet Butter cake (baked in 2 9” pans), serves 12, even baking 2 of them would serve only 24 people. How could a 6” & 9” serve 30?

How come I’m so confused?

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Posted: 08 April 2008 01:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Hi Susan - I understand your confusion completely.  The serving charts in TCB are for very small wedding portions size pieces of cake.  I like to serve regular dessert size portions to my guests.  You’ll have to decide how large you want your portions to be, and then figure out what size cakes to make.  PS - take into consideration the time of day the cake will be served, as well as other foods/desserts being served, etc.  We’ll help you figure it all out, no problem!

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Posted: 08 April 2008 01:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Thanks, Patrincia,

So exactly what size would you use to serve 30?

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Posted: 08 April 2008 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Well now, let’s see… I did an 8-12 cake to serve 40 (8” served 12, and the 12” served 28). 

For 30 I would probably do a 6-10 cake (6” to serve 8, and the 10 would serve 22). 

Or you could make the math a little easier by baking rectangular cakes… just decide what size slices you want and multiply.  Example… if I wanted my slices to be 1” thick and 3” wide, a 10x12 cake would serve 40.  If I wanted the pieces to be 1” thick and 4” wide, the same cake would serve 30. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

would do a a rectangle and make each slice 1” thick, by about 3” wide (in other words, a 2 layer 8x12).

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Posted: 08 April 2008 01:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Oops, ignore that last fragmented sentence… was supposed to be deleted.

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Posted: 08 April 2008 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Thank you sooooo much!

As I don’t have rectangular pans (at least, not with straight sides for stacking), I will do the 6-10 option.

I really appreciate your help.

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