Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cactus Cake...Sitting in the Desert/Dessert

Cactus Cake
Single-Layer Chocolate base w/Chocolate Buttercream
Double-Bundt Red Velvet Cactus w/Vanilla Buttercream & Pink Coconut Macaroons

We celebrated a friend's return home to Cyprus with a Going Away Taco Night Party!  And I wanted to bake a special cake.

When thinking about a fiesta, taco night, Tex-Mex goodness, etc... the desert is a perfect representation of these ideas.  Super.  Time to Google, "cactus cake."  Surprisingly, there are plenty of cake styles to choose from and individual interpretations of 'cactus.'

Coryphantha viviparaThe design I chose as inspiration is this round cactus with a little flower.  Most cakes that follow this design are large ball-shaped cakes sitting in a fun terra cotta pot with Oreo "dirt".  I don't have a ball-shaped pan.  I decided to bake two Bundt cakes and invert one - that's kinda ball-shaped, right?  The size of pan I had was too big.  When I went looking for a smaller pan, all I found were really small - too small for a full cake.  Ok...let's make the dessert floor.  That's when I decided to bake a 10" round...big enough to make a statement and support the cactus. 

Since the Bundt cakes are already hollowed out in the center, it seems like a perfect opportunity to turn that little bit of yumminess into a piƱata cake!  Perfect for Taco Night.  I placed a Red Velvet cupcake at the base, filled the center with yellow M&Ms, and topped with a second Red Velvet cupcakes.  Vanilla Buttercream was a good choice to bring all those pieces and parts together. 

Notice on the right side of the photo, the bits of the small bundt cakes I cut off in order for the pair to form this shape.

Errr.... that's an attempt to frost with whipped chocolate ganache.  It's too thick and wasn't working right.  No big deal, I left it alone and covered the whole layer with chocolate buttercream.  This this cake had a crumb coat of vanilla buttercream, a layer of whipped chocolate ganache, and a final layer of chocolate frosting.  Oh was good.

The green vanilla buttercream is the natural choice for the exterior.  I piped the cake like a beach ball - making seams that went from one side, over the top, and back down again.  This kept me from making rows and allowed for a more organic/haphazard look.

I piped royal icing spikes...but they were very fragile and broke apart.  I'll need to practice working with this medium a few more times. I chose to sit this cactus into some Oreo dust dirt, but didn't want to cover the entire desert floor.

The little bits of pink are coconut macaroons I bought from a carnival here in town.

I baked cupcakes in addition to cake because I had additional batter.  Of course, the lemon cupcakes seemed like a 'must have' for taco night.


Setting up photos before the dinner was easy, the cake-cutting pictures were done mid-party so they're not what I would have done.  But...I'd much rather enjoy an evening with friends, always!

It was well received and enjoyed by our wonderful friends.

The 8-person selfie...wouldn't be Taco Night without it.  I'm the one in the back, on the right.
I was happy with the results of this cake - I tried new techniques and found success.  Not everything went perfectly.  That's ok too.  I look forward to trying this cake again... imagine it as a type of 'baby gender reveal cake' (though that isn't really my speed).

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