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Need a camping cake and frosting

We're going camping for a friend's birthday in early June (it'll still be pretty mild here in SD and not too hot), but we're going up Friday night and celebrating her birthday Saturday (i.e., the cake won't be eaten until Saturday). So, what cake fillings and frosting hold up for a day?

I can keep everything in the cooler, but I'd rather not have to worry about spoilage. If needed, I can assemble it at the campsite (to keep the cake from sliding or smooshing).

I was thinking of a white cake, lemon curd, but I still need a frosting - no cream cheese or whipped cream, preferably.

Or, do you have an idea for a birthday cake (or cupcakes) that will camp well? I don't want a pie-as-cake or cookie idea; I do want to bring cake. We'll have about 15-20 people, too.


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  1. How about if you make the white cake in cupcakes, then squirt some lemon curd for an interior "surprise"?
    I'm not sure how you feel about white chocolate, but a white chocolate frosting or ganache goes really well with the lemon curd. The tart and sweet offset each other nicely. You could make the frosting ahead and frost the cupcakes there, or frost them ahead of time. As long as you left them in a cooler, they'd be fine. I'm just thinking that space-wise, cupcakes would be better than a whole cake.

    Or, if you don't like white chocolate, but do like raspberries, I'd suggest filling the cupcakes with a raspberry jam and topping off with a lemon glaze icing.

    4 Replies
    1. re: QueenB

      That's actually what I was thinking... I just wasn't sure of a frosting. Do you have a good white chocolate frosting recipe?

      1. re: leanneabe

        Would you like more of an actual frosting, or a ganache? The white chocolate frosting I usually use on this cake is whipped cream based, and I know you don't prefer that.

        1. re: QueenB

          I'm just worried that the whipped cream will deflate (you know how whipped cream starts to "melt" if you keep if for more than a day?) and slide off the cake/cupcakes or make everything milky and soggy.

          A guess a ganache would look sleeker, but frosting is always more fun to eat. What do you think?

          1. re: leanneabe

            Here's the recipe that my mom and I use. She works at a B&B and makes wedding cakes for them. She uses this recipe a lot. I, on the other hand, cook purely for fun, so I haven't made this cake as frequently as she has.

            The frosting for that cake is not a classic whipped cream frosting. It's definitely less fluffy. Almost more like a ganache.
            I think this cake would hold up perfectly well in a cooler. I know we've kept it around for more than a day and it held up fine in the fridge. I also don't remember it affecting the cake much or making it soggy.
            If you're that worried, then this is what I would do. I would bake cupcakes, make the frosting ahead of time, and then frost them as people want to eat them. That way, there's no worries about frosting melting or sliding off.
            Hope this helps!

    2. Does it have to be a cake???? Why don't you make large c.c. cookies and bring marhmallows to roast. Then add the marshmallows to the cookies - New fangled smores. Much more fun and original!

      Add some dry ice to the cooler and bring a bit of ice cream. - Does SD have fresh berries yet?? If not, bring bananas wrap in foil w a pat of butter and some brown suger. Roast then add to the ice cream. Bananas Foster camp style. Juice it up with a drizzle of almond liquor and sprinkle w/chopped almonds. You can also bring a can or two of whipped cream BUT if you're going to be in altitude - cans won't work. To me this is more fun than a cake...:)KQ

      1 Reply
      1. re: Kitchen Queen

        Well, of course we'll have s'mores anyway because we're camping! But, yes, I do want an actual cake for her birthday. It's just one of those things... it's not a birthday party without cake!

        However, maybe we'll do the campfire Bananas Foster the night before. Yum!

      2. There was a recent thread about no-egg cakes. The one I made (the mocha version) kept well, without frosting, in a sealed container for a week, as the two of us nibbled at it. Dulce de leche from the can is a 'frosting' that keeps until you need it - this is the sweetened condensed milk that you either carmelize yourself, or buy that way.


        1. i wouldn't worry so much about spoilage. frosting was actually invented as a method to preserve cakes over time - encase them in fat so they wouldn't dry out.

          sounds like you are car camping and have access to a cooler. in the +/- 24 hrs you are talking about, a little ice and a cooler is as good as a fridge. take your cake, out of the cooler and keep frosting in the cooler - spread it saturday afternoon. no problems, and any recipe will do..

          if you are still concerned, forgo frosting, make a cake that will age well, and prepare a glaze or caramel sauce on site. there was a great ginger cake recipe in the chow recipes section recently that would probably actually taste better after sitting for a day, you could bring a stick of butter, some brown sugar, and a little bourbon, rum, or whiskey and heat them in a pan on site to make a caramel/booze glaze for the cake.

          1. when i was a girl scout and we'd go on camping trips, we used to make upside-down pineapple cakes. they were really easy and tasty as well. everyone is responsible for making their own as long as you provide the ingredients.

            all you need:
            cleaned empty tuna cans with lids (enough for each person)
            cake batter
            whole pineapple rings in syrup
            some non-stick spray

            clean an empty can of tuna fish (keep the lid). spray the inside of the tuna can w/ non-stick spray. put the pineapple ring at the bottom and then pour regular cake batter into it (the cake batter you can concoct beforehand and keep in a separate container in the cooler). cover the can with the original lid and wrap the whole thing in alumninum foil. stick it in the fire for 10 minutes or so...remove the cans, pop out the individual cake and place a cherry on top. voila - your very own pineapple cake made in the great outdoors.

            1. I seem to be recommending (and baking) this a lot, but I'd suggest Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread... bake it in loaf pans. It holds up fantastic, and really gets better with a couple of days to age, marinate, and meld. [Epicurious]

              1. I would take the cake already baked, filled and iced because the icing (frosting) keeps the cake from drying out. You can keep the cake in a cake saver on some ice in a cheap styrofoam cooler. It will stay just fine. (Actually, I'd probably bake the cake onsite over and under charcoal briquets in a camping dutch oven and then decorate it right there, but I assume that you don't have a dutch oven. If you want to know how to do this, just ask -- I teach outdoor cooking and love to share info about baking in dutch ovens.)

                2 Replies
                1. re: Nancy Berry

                  You teach outdoor cooking? How cool. I'd love to know how to do the dutch oven cake outside. We rarely camp (never again in my life if I have my way ;) ) but use the firepit in the backyard all summer long. When the young set is around we do the obvious s'mores, dough wrapped on a stick, cooked, then rolled in butter, cinnamon & sugar, and hotdogs but all other cooking on the grill or inside. It'd be fun to do a cake. Thanks.

                  1. re: Nancy Berry

                    Yes, it had occurred to me that I could bake the cake there at the campsite, but on the second day of partying, I'm not sure I want to be responsible for baked goods over a campfire.

                  2. Make it ahead and freeze it, wrap it in a few layers of foil and keep it in the cooler. Check on it in the morning and give it a few hours to warm up to eating temperature. I'd suggest buttercream, it will freeze and thaw well.

                    1. any pound cake recipe will also hold up well-- you can do a glaze or just sprinkle some confectioner's sugar on top & serve with berries. one big bundt-sized pound cake, sliced thin, can serve 20 people. a good way to get a pretty cake wherever-- all in one piece--is to put it on a plate, saran wrap, put it in an empty milk crate. it may slide around but it can't get smooshed & you won't have to stress about it. you can flip the crate over and use as a table when serving the cake at the campground-- don't forget to pack a cake server.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: soupkitten

                        soupkitten wrote: ""...one big bundt-sized pound cake, sliced thin, can serve 20 people...""

                        LOL! It isn't nice to tease the 250-300 pound family gorilla with a thin slice of anything! My last family event I barely made it out of the food line alive, when a relative made some meatloaf and did not let on there was actually more in the oven keeping warm.

                        Please for everyone's safety make sure there is plenty for everyone!

                        1. re: RShea78

                          LOL :P okay, a 10-inch bundt cake, with berries, might serve 20 for a regular family event, but maybe not if they are very hungry after hiking & fishing all day! the recipes i'm thinking of have 6 eggs, etc & pound cakes are much more rich, dense & substantial than other types of cakes. i still think a pound cake might be a great idea, but when in doubt, as Rshea points out, bake 2 cakes.

                        2. re: soupkitten

                          Pound cake is a great idea. You can keep the cake at room temp (can make ahead and freeze before - I always think pound cake is better when frozen first). You can top with sliced strawberries in a simple syrup with 2 T of grand marnier added and confectioner's sugar (so you don't have to keep whipped cream in the cooler unless you want to).

                          Not sure of your crowd, but an applesauce cake would also keep well and is great with confectioner's sugar on top.

                        3. My family has been camping since I was a baby and my Dad is a MASTER dutch oven cooker. If you want something that is SUPER SUPER easy you can actually make a birthday cake or cobbler in a dutch oven. It's not exactly gourmet but all you do is put all the ingredients in, put the top on, and presto-within 45 minutes to an hour you have a delicious, impressive dessert. Especially for 15-20 people this is a highly reccommended option.
                          If you reply I can leave you with some recipes I've acquired over the years. :)

                          1. When we wnet camping, mom always brought along a Texas Sheet Cake.

                            1. IMO, any butter cake will keep for days in an air tight container with no dimunition in quality. Some cakes, like pound cakes, rum cakes, spice cakes, etc. will get BETTER with time. I say don't keep it too cold. I NEVER refridgerate a butter cake and actually consider it a mild sin.

                              Your issue is icing, or maybe it's just MY issue, but I suggest ganache. Buttercreams can be scary and whipped cream is right out.

                              Now, although I have said don't keep it cold, I also want to mention not to leave it full sun, even on a cool day. I took a choc/choc cake camping once, the temps were in the 50's but warm October sun melted the icing off the 20% of the cake that took direct rays under the tupperware.

                              I don't really care for lemon and choc, but perhaps white cake w/ raspberry or orange curd and choc frosting?

                              1. I think if you make a cake in a 13x9 sheet pan and cover it with chocolate ganache frosting, it'll keep for a day.