Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ode To Haight-Ashbury

Last Sunday I met up with some friends in Brooklyn to watch the Super Bowl. It was actually a Pig Skin-Pulled Pork Potluck/Super Bowl/Birthday Party. Obviously, the real reason I went was for the food and birthday, not for the football. There were some really delicious items including homemade quick pickles and these pumpkin chocolate raisin bars (I have no idea what the official name was). I am hoping to get both recipes soon!

Being a vegetarian, I brought a quinoa salad (I will be posting the recipe later this week) and a rainbow cake. The rainbow cake was a collaboration between myself and a dear friend who quite frankly is a disaster in the kitchen. Literally, one of the first times I saw him cook, he was boiling pasta in a tiny pot and was holding a flaming potholder while trying to inconspicuously it blow out. Being a busy grad student at Columbia he doesn't have much time to cook, but last weekend he took the time to bake the cake with me (basically I directed and he did the work).

I found the rainbow cake recipe on the hilarious food blog The Omnomicon. Click here for the original posting. The rainbow cake is much simpler than it looks, it is just dyed cake batter layered into a cake pan. I couldn't find the gel food coloring that Aleta recommended so I just used regular food coloring dye and the cake still turned out pretty vibrant. She also used a Jello frosting recipe, but I decided to make a buttercream frosting - because to be honest I only eat cake for the frosting. Although I like making things from scratch, I was alright with using a box mix and a bottle of diet Sprite since this was my friend's first baking experience. I didn't want to overwhelm him, plus adding Sprite sounded pretty interesting. The recipe is super simple, but be prepared to have a lot of dirty bowls. It is totally worth it! Let's begin:
The cake is a two layer cake so all you need is the following:
-2 white cake mixes
-1 large bottle of Sprite (20 ounces)
-Food Coloring (4 color box: blue, green, yellow, red)
You simply mix the cake mix with the bottle of diet Sprite and then you are ready to divide your batter and create the rainbow colors. I know that it is crazy to imagine that you don't need eggs or oil, but the Sprite really does the trick. I will say that you should still grease the pan with Pam or butter. I had some issues getting the cakes out without some of the cake sticking to the bottom (thank goodness for frosting to cover the mistakes).
The batter makes a little over 6 cups. Since I made six colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple), I divided the batter into 1 cup plus a little more into each bowl (6 total). Each bowl has about 20 drops of food coloring in each one (read the instructions on the food coloring box to see how to mix orange and purple).
Now it is time to layer your colored batter into the two pans. The order I did was red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple for one pan, and the other pan I did the reverse order. Simply, take each bowl and divide your batter evening into both pans (essentially 1/2 cup of the batter per pan). You can do whatever combination you want (like warm colors in one pan, and cool in the other).
Bake according to the time length and temperature on the box. Let cool completely and then you are ready to frost your cake.
Now time for the frosting! Buttercream frosting is comprised of just two ingredients: softened butter and powdered sugar. You can then add flavoring, in this case vanilla. Although the process is simple enough, it is surprisingly time consuming. I got my recipe from Martha Stewart Living February 2009 edition. For 4 cups of buttercream frosting you need:
-3 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
-1 pound of powdered sugar
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Beat the butter on medium high until nice and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Then add 1/2 sugar and beat on medium high for 5 minutes. You will beat the frosting for 5 minutes every 1/2 cup you add. After every two 1/2 cups you increase the speed to high for 10 seconds. After you have mixed all the powdered sugar in you add the vanilla and beat until the frosting is nice and smooth. (This would also be the place to add food coloring if you want to).
A trick I learned recently was to place four pieces of wax paper on the bottom of the cake before frosting. At the end of frosting you can pull out the wax paper and the plate you were frosting will be nice and clean - ready for presentation. To start, simply smooth the frosting on top of the first layer of cake (which has the top cut off for an even base) and then add the second cake on top. Then cover the whole cake with frosting - starting with the top and working down the sides.
I added pink sprinkles on top of the frosting to give it a little flare, but I really wanted to keep the outside quiet and inside loud.
The cake might be a bit of a mess, but the reaction at the party was definitely worth it. Quite the show stopper! In my opinion, it was way more impressive than the Steeler's final touchdown ;)

1 comment:

  1. That is such a good idea! I'll have to make that soon.