Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Aug 8, 2005 05:37 PM

A Different Kind of Birthday Cake!?

  • v

I am throwing a suprise party for my live with fiance I want to make something different than the usual cake, but it will need to feed 30 people. I don't have lots of different cake pans and it is in hot summer don't want to be baking all day (nor do I have a lot of time), so I wanted to make something a little different and tasty, but easy and big as well. Does anyone have any recipes or ideas for me?
Thanks so much

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. a
    Amuse Bouches

    You could make pavlova! (there's a thread below.) Meringue base, whipped cream and fruit. I'd make several regular sized pavlovas (not individual) -- each one probably feeds about 6-8 people who have large appetites.

    1. l

      You could try baking cupcakes--if you don't have enough pans, you could get the disposable kind from the market.

      1. Marcella Hazan's Diplomatico Cake is a showstopper, decadent without being overly sweet. I would recommend making three or four in bread pans. If it is really hot, throw them in the freezer; they defrost plenty fast if you move them to the fridge a few hours before.

        Diplomatico Cake
        Recipe By : Marcella Hazan
        Serving Size :

        1 1/4 cups strong espresso
        5 tablespoons rum
        5 teaspoons sugar
        1 16 ounce pound cake, cut into 1/4" slices

        4 large eggs -- separated
        1 teaspoon sugar
        6 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

        1 cup very cold heavy cream
        1 teaspoon sugar
        fresh berries or
        walnut halves and candied fruit

        Make the rum and espresso soak:
        In a small bowl, combine the espresso, rum,
        sugar, and 5 tablespoons of water.

        Moisten a sheet of cheesecloth large enough
        to line a 9x5x3 inch glass loaf pan with
        plenty of overhang. Line the pan with the
        cheesecloth. Dip the pound cake, slice by
        slice, in the rum and espresso soak, then
        use the slices to line the bottom and sides
        of the pan. (Dip the cake slices very
        quickly or they will become too soggy to
        handle, let any excess liquid drain from the
        slices before lining the pan.) Leave no
        gaps, patching where necessary with pieces
        of soaked pound cake.

        Make the chocolate filling:
        In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the
        sugar until they turn pale yellow, about 4

        Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over
        gently simmering water. Gradually pour the
        melted chocolate over the beaten egg yolks,
        mixing quickly with a rubber spatula until
        smoothly combined.

        In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until
        the form stiff peaks. Stir a rounded
        tablespoon of the beaten whites into the
        chocolate mixture to loosen it, then gently
        fold in the remaining whites.

        Spoon the chocolate filling into the cake-
        lined pan. Cover the filling with more
        slices of soaked pound cake (you may have
        some cake left over). Fold the moistened
        cheesecloth over the top of the cake.
        Refrigerate the diplomatico for at least one
        day, and up to a week.

        When you take the cake out of the fridge,
        unfold the cheesecloth and pull it away from
        the top of the cake. Invert the loaf pan
        onto a platter and shake it firmly to free
        the cake and peel off the cheesecloth.

        Make the frosting and garnish the cake:
        In a very well chilled bowl, using chilled
        beaters, whip the heavy cream with the sugar
        until stiff. Frost the top and sides of the
        cake with the whipped cream. Garnish the
        cake with fresh berries or walnuts and
        candied fruit.

        NOTES : If you do not have an espresso
        machine, buy some ready made, strong coffee
        cannot be replaced. Some pound cakes absorb
        too much liquid and become too soggy to
        handle and break apart. Always look for the
        cheapest brands, made with little or no
        butter, because they remain firmer and are
        easier to work with.

        1. Once you've picked the flavor of cake you want, make it into a sandcastle. I like to use spice cake with buttercream frosting and/or German Chocolate Cake.

          It is really easy and saves time from trying to be perfect with the frosting.

          You can Google for shape ideas. I just did and saw you can also use Sugar in the Raw (instead of the Teddy Grahams I am going to instruct you with) for the frosting final.

          (1) Cake mixes
          (2) Frosting
          (3) Graham crackers (make into crumbs in food processor or blender) 1-1/2 box of graham crackers for each cake mix, or 6 boxes for cake for 30.
          (4) Flags (If you end the cake with a flag, it looks more like a castle.) Use a toothpick [in an upside-down [ice cream] cake cone and a ribbon, or use a wooden skewer with ribbon or material glued folded over it and together and cut like a dragon's tongue.
          (5) Blue clear cellophane or plastic to set it one - the more hanging, the better to look like water around the cake.

          (A) Make the cake. (Boxed mixes are okay if you want - and use about 4 boxes; or make recipe for one cake four times the amount-use different flavors for each wing or side if you want).
          You can just use any pans you want, including 8" round cake pans, cupcake tins, Bundt pans, glass bowls, or even tin cans (without the label). Just change the baking time for smaller capacities - or cut from oblong or square cakes.

          (B) Assemble the cake.
          Obviously, you have to put the cake together.
          Stack different size box shapes together side-by-side or on top of each other. Use your frosting as "glue" and be generous between layers.

          (C) Frost it
          A butterb\cream or cream cheese frosting will hold up to room temperature and to grabbing the crumbs.

          (D) Coat it with graham crackers crumbs. If you use Teddy Grahams, the texture might be gritter and the flavors can vary from regular to cinnamon graham and even chocolate if you want.

          Anyway, since it's a sandcastle, you can spend as much time on it as you want to shape it and cover it. Add cookies as a fence or whatever you want. I sometimes add Tonka toy tractors on it or other decorations/dishes/shovels, etc. The graham cracker crumbs on the frosting is forgiving both to you and the time it sits out and eating it; doesn't have to be perfect and it still looks like it's supposed to.

          Also, Trader Joe's has boxes of seashell shaped chocolates (with hazelnut inside) that you can place around the cake. Some people might want to nibble the sweet before its time to eat the cake.

          For shapes, see also,

          The simple, the better if you're in a big hurry.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kc girl

            What a cute idea! I'll have to try that sometime...

          2. You could make the Tres Leches cake from the King Arthur Bakers Companion.
            I made it for a block party recently and it was a big hit. It looks fantastic.
            It is a sponge cake baked in a 9 x 13 pan, then soaked liberally with a delicious mixture of cream, evaporated milk, and sweetned condensed milk. Very fast to put together and not particularly expensive, either. This part can be done at least the day before. Then it is frosted with a frothy white merengue. Although the frosting recipie may be intimidating at first glance, let me confess that I made it after 2 beers and had the cake frosted 15 minutes after I began the frosting.
            The cake ends up being very moist, but not soggy. Even though the folks on my block are not adventerous eaters, they all loved this cake. I overheard them standing around it trying to figure out how it was made. So it's different but not "weird".
            You do need a candy thermometer and a stand mixer to make this cake. Also, you couldn't really write "happy birthday" on this cake, if that matters.
            Let me know if you want the recipie. I would recommend buying this book- it has some great stuff in it.