summer birthday cake #3: america’s test kitchen’s devil’s food cake with cream cheese frosting

C. requested a chocolate cake with cream cheese icing for his birthday. I selected the Devil’s Food Layer Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. I have to say I no longer hang on to ATK’s every word when it comes to baking, as I’ve had a few of their recipes not turn out well (including one which caused Team Awesome to blow our grade on the Baking For Health and Wellness practical).  No issues with the Devil’s Food Cake but the Cream Cheese Frosting was really disappointing. It was too soft to work with in spite of being well-chilled. I know it’s a cardinal sin in the cake business to even attempt using cream cheese icing in the summer, so I was already asking for trouble, but I believe this recipe was a bit wonky to begin with.  This morning I conducted a postmortem and compared the ratios with the cream cheese frosting recipe I ordinarily use (from the Philadelphia Cream Cheese folks). ATK’s uses a quarter of the amount of confectioner’s sugar that Philly’s does, slightly more butter and includes a small amount of sour cream (which the Philadelphia Cream Cheese recipe does not have).  I really should’ve compared the recipes before making the icing and recognized that there might be a problem with the ATK recipe.  Baking is a science, so call this a failed experiment.
Icing failure or not, it was an adorable cake.  I enlisted the birthday boy, AKA fondant modeler extraordinaire, to create the figures for his cake.  My original idea was to model little schnauzers but he has more experience than I do with making dogs so I asked him if he might like to give it a go.  He suggested making something else entirely.  Recently he’s been on a Pikmin kick so he created different figures from the game. He mixed the colors and modeled everything himself. Clearly he’s the real artistic talent in our family. (Happy 14th birthday, C!)
The Wollywog squashing a blue Pikmin.
Different pellets, and a purple Pikmin carrying a marble.
Dwarf Red Bulborb
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