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transportable birthday cake

I will be making a birthday cake in about a month that needs to be transportable. By this I mean, can it survive a 6-8 hour subway/train trip and not need refrigeration? I've been looking at cake cookbooks, and my main concern is how do I determine which cakes definitely need refrigeration, other than common-sense ones like whipped cream frosting, etc. It doesn't need to be a "traditional" layer cake; my main goal is that it be very tasty and survive the trip. One recipe I am considering trying is a Nutella cake, where Nutella can be used as frosting. Also, a ginger cake from Chowhound (although a frosting would be nice). Any other ideas? Thanks in advance, all you cake experts! I will be test-baking over the next few weeks before making the "real thing".

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  1. An upside down cake would probably travel really well. It's baked in a deep dish and the syrupy fruit is at the bottom, so you won't have to worry about leaks or falling. Just cover it well with plastic wrap and make sure it stays right-side-up (or in this case right-side-down). Bring a platter or plate and just flip it when you get to your destination.

    A bundt cake would work as well. You could make a nice rich, fudgey one that won't require any icing.

    Nutella sounds awfully melty to me!

    1. You could try Candy's chocolate pound cake. If you wanted to use Nutella, you could do that when you arrived.


      1. I recommend it a lot, but the Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread, baked in two loaf pans, chilled or warm with vanilla ice cream. Travels really well.

        1. If the lucky birthday person likes coconut, you could try a german chocolate cake in a 9x13 pan. Regardless of what kind of cake you decide to make, if you make one in a 9x13 pan, I would highly recommend treating yourself to a 9x13 pan with a lid - it is SO much nicer to carry around than one with foil on top!

          1 Reply
          1. re: LauraB

            Thanks for the ideas. I will be testing out some recipes soon!

          2. How about a flourless chocolate torte? I will often make one in advance and freeze it. Carry it frozen onto the train...it will defrost as you travel and be at the perfect temperature upon arrival.

            1 Reply
            1. re: susan1353

              i second the flourless torte suggestion. i have transported one before frozen to a party. i just kept it in its original pan so that it doesn't break on the way.

              and, a flourless torte is so mousse like, it needs no icing

            2. The Texas Sheet Cake would do well for transport, as well as being quite delicious...
              http://southernfood.about.com/od/choc... It is possible that you could add a bit of Nutella in with the frosting...It would actually be good with this cake...Do it in a sheet pan, as the cake to frosting ratio is one of the best part of this cake...

              1. Any cake with the right icing will survive as long as you have a good cake carrier. In fact, the point of icing is to keep the cake fresh. I would use a marshmallow-type icing; the kind where you whip sugar, egg whites and corn syrup over a double boiler and add flavoring at the end, like vanilla, almond extract etc. It's a versatile icing that holds up well and looks very festive--like the traditional image of a birthday cake. I usually top the white marshmallow frosting with coconut or chocolate curls. You can also make it colored with food coloring.
                Definitely avoid butter creams for such a long trip, they will droop.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bolletje

                  I love that type of icing, but i would be frightened of taking it on a long train ride. I don't find it to be quite as durable as some icings. Maybe it's just MY frosting, but sometimes it gets a little weepy and the cake wants to move around, or if it's very humid, the frosting may get grainy.

                  I do agree that a good cake carrier is critical. My vote would be for a devils food cake with ganache icing. Ganache is the most stable thing I've every worked with. In fact, last Thursday night I made a EPI double chocolate cake (which has a ganache frosting) to work with me last week, left it in the car for a couple of hours in the morning, (South Carolina on a day that eventually reached 100 degrees), moved it into my work refridgerator, put it back in the car, drove to the spa, carried in with me while I got a massage (tough life), carried to a friends house to spend the night. She then transported it an hour by car to a party on Saturday night. Although I wasn't there to try it, very positive reviews have come in from my friends that were there.

                  Remember, butter cakes should NEVER be refrigerated (unless you absolutely can't help it) and then they should have several hours to come up to temp before serving.

                2. I made the EPI double chocolate cake with ganache frosting a few months back and brought it on the plane with me. I used a more traditioanl pourable ganache instead of a spreadable one. I added nuts to the side so that if the sides touch the cake carrier, it wouldn't be messed up. It also helps if you put your cake on a piece of cardboard that is slightly larger than the diameter of the cake. That way, if the cake slides around the cake container, the sides won't touch the container. Or better yet, you might be able to secure the cake to the bottom with a little frosting on the bottom of the cardboard? When I transported my cake, the cake would slide around quite a bit in my cake container (8-in cake, in a much larger cake carrier).
                  I made the cake the night before and kept it in the fridge. By the time I landed (it was only a 1hr flight +2-3 hr traveling time), the cake was prefectly thawed and ready to eat.

                  1. wow, thanks for all the great advice. I didn't realize butter cakes shouldn't be refrigerated, and like the ideas for keeping the cake in place.

                    Just found out the recipient isn't fond of chocolate cakes, so I will save those ideas for other occassions. He likes vanilla and cherry. I may try both buttercream and marshmallow-type frostings ahead of time to see what works.

                    Has anyone tried something like this: yellow or white layer cake with cherry preserve glaze underneath a frosting or icing? Would that make the cake too soggy?

                    How about Marzipan frosting?

                    Again, thanks for these wonderful ideas.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: poptart

                      Hmm..think I would skip the cherry preserves..Too much of a soggy risk...If the recipient does not like chocolate, and for the sake of the journey, why not consider a moist and delicious type of pound or bundt cake? There are so many wonderful ones out there that simply use a glaze, and you could do without having to frost it...

                      1. re: poptart

                        Oh my gosh, I have the perfect recipe for you! it's for a maraschino cherry layer cake.
                        I got it from an old Softasilk cake flour recipe pamphlet, and it's basically a white cake with chopped maraschino cherries and their syrup in the cake, with optional almond extract and finely chopped almonds. The frosting I used was that marshmallow one with chocolate curls on top but you could use any kind. Let me know if you'd like the recipe.

                        1. re: bolletje

                          That sounds PERFECT! Yes, please....would love the recipe! Thanks.

                          1. re: poptart

                            Okay here's the recipe with my comments in parentheses:

                            "New Maraschino Cake"
                            2 1/4 cups sifted Softasilk cake flour
                            1 1/3 cups sugar
                            3 tsp baking powder
                            1 tsp salt
                            1/2 cup soft shortening (I used butter)
                            1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
                            (1 tsp almond extract)
                            16 maraschino cherries, chopped (finely)
                            1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)
                            1/2 cup milk
                            4 egg whites, unbeaten (the recipe says it should be 1/2 cup of liquid)

                            Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 or 9x1 1/2 " layer pans or one 13x9" oblong pan. (I also lined the bottom of the pans w/parchment paper)
                            Sift dry ingredients, add shortening, maraschino juice, almond extract. Beat 2 minutes. Add milk and egg whites, beat 2 more minutes. Fold in chopped cherries and nuts. Bake layers 30 to 35 minutes, oblong 35-40 minutes. Frost with white mountain frosting tinted pink.

                            White Mountain Frosting
                            Note: I have never made this frosting.
                            1/2 cup sugar
                            2 tbsp water
                            1/4 cup light corn syrup
                            2 egg whites (1/4 cup)
                            1 tsp vanilla

                            Mix in saucepan sugar, water, syrup. Cover. Bring to rolling boil. Remove cover. Cook to 242 degrees or until syrup spins a 6 to 8 inch thread. just before syrup is ready, beat egg whites until stiff enough to hold a point. Pour hot syrup very slowly in thin stream into egg whites. Beat until frosting holds peaks. Blend in vanilla.

                      2. How about a southern caramel cake? For the cake, just use a basic white cake, and there are lots of great recipes for the caramel frosting on chowhound (just search "caramel cake"). It's rather sweet, but the frosting is pretty sturdy. And it was a HUGE hit when i took it into work, not to mention my friend's childhood favorite dessert (which is why I made it in the first place.)

                        1. Thanks so much for the recipe and ideas. I am going to try the cherry cake this weekend first, my brother won't mind trying it for his birthday I am sure. The caramel cake sounds amazing too. I have some baking to do!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: poptart

                            I would suggest a earthquake cake in a 9x13x2 baking dish with a lid and carrying case
                            I have one that i use for occasions like this all the time. that cake is chocolate, it has
                            coconut in it , and a cream cheese frosting in the cake not on it. and people really go
                            for this cake.