Saturday, April 6, 2013

Our 3D Dump Truck Cake

Awhile back, we asked Conor what kind of birthday cake he wanted. After seeing a picture of a dump truck cake, he knew exactly what he wanted. Even a few weeks later, he still wanted a dump truck cake. Eric, aka my artistic director, sketched out a wonderful design. I called my cake store guru and asked her for cake pan recommendations. She suggested an extra long loaf pan and then we could sculpt the cake from that. Cool!

I made a triple batch of the Velvet Devil's Food Cake from Cooks Illustrated (recipe to follow) which was amazingly wonderful. I'd never used the recipe before and think I've found my new go-to chocolate cake recipe. It is moist (to the point of being borderline fudgy) and very flavorful. Winner! I bought the red and black fondant (those colors are REALLY hard to mix); all the other fondant used was my homemade marshmallow fondant (much better tasting!).

Thank goodness that Eric is (a) artistic and (b) an engineer, because there's no way this project would have turned out nearly as well (or at all!) without him at the helm. Our one major issue? We assembled the cake on the warmest day of the year thus far and the buttercream started to melt and ooze (whoops!!)

After carving (again, all the credit goes to Eric) and stacking the first group of pieces, and then me gluing the layers/pieces with the soon-to-be melting buttercream. it was time to cover the cab and lower portion of the truck bed with the red fondant. Up next was stacking/covering the yellow dump truck bed. After that, the real fun began ... the details, which included Rice Krispy treats covered in black fondant for the wheels, fondant windows, headlights, and a "Conor" license plate. Last, but not least, we filled the bed of the truck with its load: jellybeans. Oh no, we didn't just toss some jelly beans on the back and call it good... we glued each bean in place using piping gel so we could ensure they stayed put and would stay mounded. Eric had the brilliant idea of adding dirt to the cake board to make the truck look even better; his first idea of coffee grounds didn't pan out once we put 2 and 2 together and realized the coffee grounds would blow around with the slightest shift in air flow, so we decided to crumble up the extra cake parts and it worked beautifully.

It took quite a few hours to complete the cake, but it was definitely time well spent!!

All baked, carved, and ready to stack
Eric piecing the cake together
Red fondant ... check!

Me adding dye to make the yellow fondant
Two by two ... hands of blue! (quick: name that movie reference)

Let the kneading begin!

I'm so weird!
The final product

The birthday boy admiring his cake

Velvet Devil's Food Cake (Cooks Illustrated)
  • 1/2 c cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp instant espresso or instant coffee
  • 1 c boiling water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 T butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1.  Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease two 8 by 1 1/2-inch round cake pans with vegetable shortening (I used Pam instead and used the extra long loaf pan, not two rounds) and cover pan bottoms with parchment paper. Grease parchment paper, dust cake pans with flour, and tap out the excess.
  2. Mix cocoa and instant coffee in a small bowl; add boiling water and mix until smooth. Cool to room temperature, then stir in vanilla. 
  3. Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer until shiny and smooth, about 30 seconds. Gradually sprinkle in sugar; beat until mixture is fluffy and almost white, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating 1 full minute after each addition.
  4. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. With mixer on lowest speed, add about 1/3 of dry ingredients to batter, followed immediately by about 1/3 cocoa mixture; until ingredients are almost incorporated into batter. Repeat process twice more. (Note: I did additions differently: 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 cocoa mixture, 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 cocoa mixture, 1/3 flour mixture). When batter appears blended, stop mixer and scrape bowl sides with rubber spatula. Return mixer to low speed; beat until batter looks satiny, about 15 seconds longer.
  5. Divide batter evenly between pans. With rubber spatula, spread batter to pan sides with smooth top. Bake cakes until they feel firm in center when lightly pressed and skewer comes out clean, 23 to 30 minutes. (It took closer to 40 minutes in the extra long loaf pan.) Transfer pans to wire racks; cool for 10 minutes. Run knife around perimeter of each pan, invert cakes onto racks, and peel off paper liners. Reinvert cakes onto additional racks; cool completely before frosting.

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