how to make a ladybug cake?
My daughter is turning 4 this weekend (is this sounding familiar?) and wants a ladybug cake. This doesn't seem like it would be complicated (hey, at least she didn't ask for a dragonfly) but I'm a little stymied.
I usually bake from scratch (although I did buy a box mix as a backup), but all the chocolate cake recipes I have are for layer cakes. I want a big round cake, but I don't think I need layers. One option that I've read about is to bake the cake in a stainless steel mixing bowl to make a dome, but I'd like to hear from a real person that this actually works, and that a standard recipe for two 8" layers will do the trick.
Or I have an 8" springform pan that's fairly deep--would that work?
I actually just made one for my daughter's first, but I cheated and used a ladybug-shaped pan. Which seemed like a silly investment at first, but at various stages in the production my mother, husband and I decided that it looked like a pig and a hippo, so maybe I can press it into service for future animal-shaped cake needs.
You didn't mention how you were planning to decorate it; if you're going to go the traditional icing route, you might want to consider your dyes. Red and black can be tricky. I find that things dyed intense red taste kinda funny; although apparently you can buy "no-taste" red dye, I've never tried it. As for the black, my husband bought me an iced cake with a black cat on it one year and our teeth were gray for days. So for my ladybug, I steered away from black and red and made a pink and green ladybug. Not entymologically correct, but very cute. (Then again, my daughter was one, and not able to say, "Mommy, ladybugs don't look like that." Yours may be more discerning.)
Along the ladybug theme: a couple of days ago my curiosity was piqued by a dessert on a menu with the name "Flourless Chocolate Armageddon". It was a fist-sized serving of chocolate mousse in a chocolate shell. WIth the appropriate decoration it could have passed for a ladybug. Enjoyed it !
I've used a Pyrex bowl to make a half-basketball. I had leftover cake batter after making my daughter's birthday cake (in the shape of her favorite player's jersey) so I poured the balance into a bowl and made a basketball. It came out great. I just tested more often than usual until the tester came out clean.
Here is the photo.
I've done this with two 8" pans. Frost the bottom one chocolate for the base. Cut the top in half and frost w/ red frosting. Place on the bottom at an angle w/ the flat edges inside (so they look like wings about to fly) w/ some of the chocolate base showing at top for the head. It's hard to explain but if you imagine the red being wings starting to open and the chocolate as the base and head, it'll make more sense. Use upside down Hershey kisses for the spots.
I've also baked a cake in stainless steel bowls and that works fine, too. Reduce the temperature and watch the cake carefully because the bowl is thinner so will cook faster. Use a lot of butter so it doesn't stick. Parchment paper helps.
Wilton offers a special ladybug cake pan if you are interested.
You could also do a ice cream cake and fill the body of the bug with ice cream so the bug's body would be thinner and more even than if you attempted to bake an a entire bowl of cake batter.
BTW, a dragonfly is quite easy to do because it can be made with a jelly roll. Making the wings from pulled sugar can be a nightmare if you choose to do that.
In Julia Child's book "Cooking With Master Chefs" is a recipe by Michel Richard (of Citrus/Citronelle fame) that I have made. It is called "The Chocolate Dome", and consists of a Genoise baked in a bowl, then sliced into layers and filled with chocolate cream. Plastic wrap is then covered with chocolate and the wrap put into the bowl, chocolate side up. The cake is then put into the bowl and put into the fridge so the chocolate sets. When set the cake is taken out, the plastic wrap removed, and the cake decorated. It's really delicious. You could well use this as a basis for the ladybug.
The recipe uses a 4-cup stainless steel bowl, about 8 inches across and 3 inches deep. 4 large eggs are used for the cake recipe.
You can get the book used from Amazon for 58 cents !!! Here is a link:
Wilton makes a cake pan that looks like using a stainless steel bowl. Here's what it looks like:
That suggests it can be done.
I had a set of pans once that you could use to make round cakes like this. Or you could use it to make round filled things. It was silverstone and I have always had trouble with things burning in silverstone. Anyway, the only cake I ever made in that pan was simultaneously burned and raw inside. So I do think that timing could be a trick. But without the silverstone you hopefully wouldn't run into the problem I did. And if you make the cake relatively shallow, you would be less likely to have problems.
Also, I wonder if you could put strips of parchment along the bottom that would overhang the edges. Before you put the batter in. To help remove the cake so it doesn't stick. And of course butter and flour well.
One more example:
My concern with a mixing bowl would be the temp and baking time needed to get the middle baked without turning the outside to cardboard. I would bake two or three layers so I could frost in between, then gently carve the top layer to curve it (serrated or electric knife). A perfect dome isn't essential since you can even it out with the frosting. Use the remaining pieces of cake to make head, antennae, legs. Just don't do this:
I've seen the results of baking a cake in a pyrex bowl (make sure it says oven proof on it) http://dinnerwithjulie.com/2009/01/25... which would create the dome you're looking for.
I think you could also bake a sheet cake and cut it into the desired shape or two layers, one for the body one for wings (split in half and fanned out). Images abound on google.