Vin’s birthday steak cake
Happy birthday to my amazing husband!!! We got this party started when I surprised Vin with a custom Intramural Zombie Hunting League shirt, complete with his nickname, fave number, and plenty of fake blood all over the tee. It should be a staple in any respectable zombie enthusiast’s collection. And I took him to a shooting range to shoot .22 caliber rifles. It was really fun; we’re both better shots than we expected and I have the target sheets to prove it! I don’t see myself joining the NRA any time soon, but I’d really like to do it again (.22s are fine with me but Vin wants something bigger with a painful recoil haha) After getting all amped up @ the shooting range, I took Vin out to lunch @ Old Homestead. He has a steak blog where he gives thorough reviews of NYC steakhouses, and he requested this place for his birthday dinner. Since Vin’s been on a red meat binge, he gave me the perfect idea for what to make for his birthday cake…
I’m pretty freaking proud of myself of myself for not only planning this thoroughly, but that the actual outcome vs. expectations matched pretty damn well. I wrote out all the things I needed (2 different cakes, different-colored icings, and LOTS of fondant) and divvied this project into phases: baking the cakes, making a crapload of white frosting (always good to have extra white icing on hand), rolling the fondant, shaping the cake and the fondant, and the “sides” (more on this later).
Knowing this was a very ambitious and elaborate cake (seriously, when have I NOT given myself a baking challenge? 😉 I allowed myself to use box mix. I know, I know… it’s against my principles but this time I’m focusing primarily on aesthetics and it’s not like it’ll taste completely like @ss, but time is of the essence. I used two kinds of cake mix: strawberry, since it was already pink and the perfect color for “medium” cooked steak; and white for the side of mashed potatoes since one needs a “starch” with one’s “steak” =) Since the oven was preoccupied with the strawberry cake pan, I decided to only use part of the white cake mix and “bake” it in the microwave. I’ve said before that my oven is insanely hot and food cooks very quickly in there, but cake in the microwave? Less than 7 minutes. I sh*t you not. I used one of those quart-size Chinese soup containers; if you tried nuking cake in a mug, I’m sure it would be done in half the time. This was the first time I ever tried zapping cake mix, and it was pretty cool. The cake was light and dry (I used less liquid on purpose) and spongey… perfect for “mashed potatoes.” I probably won’t microwave a cake again, but I do admit it WAS neat. And I’m sure kids would like it; besides, microwave cakes are WAY better than those Tastybake lightbulb ovens!
While the cakes were cooling, I made about 2 quarts of frosting. Butter, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla… easy! I then sketched out a porterhouse steak on a sheet of blank paper, giving attention to that “T” bone that splits the filet and short loin. I cut the “bone” part out and used my template to shape the strawberry cake into the meat. I used this sample of white Fondarific fondant and rolled it out to cut the “T” bone. Since the steak… cake… whichever… was so thick, I needed to do this twice to roll out 2 bone layers. After putting the fondant bone and the cake together, it pretty much looked like a steak: a huge, raw yet fluffy piece of steak… that looked like the continent of Africa. hahaha
Amateur hour with fondant is officially over. I graduated with flying colors with the completion of Vin’s cake =) Last week I tested the waters with store bought Wilton fondant and made those silly flowers and branches. I’m not a fan of that fondant; it tasted like chalk and dried up pretty quickly. Not the most fun stuff to use or eat. The Fondarific stuff didn’t taste bad @ all, but I didn’t have enough to cover the rest of the cake so I researched recipes for homemade fondant. Needless to say, I found something that actually doesn’t taste like flavor-free Tums and was pretty great to work with. I kneaded 2 shades of brown: one for the cooked meat part and a lighter tan for the outside of the bone and a strip of flavorful fat section along the side.
I mixed a shade of frosting that was similar to outer “meat” fondant layer and dirty iced the cake. I rolled out the fondant, cut out the shape of the bone, set the rolled fondant on the cake and trimmed the excess. With the lighter tan fondant, I pieced out a strip for the fat along the left side of the cake, and then cut out the shape of the bone and laid it over the white fondant bone section. The fondant fit like perfectly matching puzzle pieces and held up so well… I was so freaking psyched! (This fondant part turned to be easier than I thought it would be but I didn’t want to jinx myself with a happy little booty shake till I was completely finished… knowing me, I’d knock over the cake or something just as catastrophic haha)
Since I didn’t have clean paintbrushes, I painted brown gel coloring on the bone with my fingertips and a toothpick. I used a chopstick to make “grill” indentations and painstakingly dabbed black gel coloring with a lollipop stick to make the grill marks. After shading the edges with brown gel and sprinkling “salt and pepper” (sugar sprinkles that looked exactly like sea salt and black pepper), I thought it was semi-believable as a cooked steak, or @ least a plastic-looking steak. haha Just imagine all the awesomely incredible damage I could do if I just had an airbrush machine and how realistic it would look then…. muahahahaaaa
By the time I left the steak alone and cleaned up the kitchen, I think the sun came up. The side dishes were a cinch in comparison and I had already prepped most of it, so I got a few hours of sleep before finishing the components @ Vin’s parents’ house. I crumbled up the microwaved white cake and mixed it with some white frosting for my mashed potatoes. I realize I could have just plopped dollops of white frosting on the plate for the mashed potatoes, but I wanted it to actually be edible (or maybe I’m just the only person that would never ever eat 10 spoonfuls of frosting plain). The consistency of the cake crumb mixture was just right and the flavor was not too sweet @ all. There was some yellow fondant leftover from last weekend so I lightened a tiny piece of it to shape into a small pat of butter. I took the rest of the remaining Fondarific fondant and kneaded a shade of green for the green beans. While Vin and I caught up on “Game of Thrones” (AMAZING show with brilliant characters… if I had time to read I’d check out the books, for sure), I half-consciously formed the beans since most of my attention was on the TV show. I can totally make fondant green beans in my sleep now, just like little frosting roses. haha Yes, I know, the vegetable portion size is very small in comparison to the amount of steak (I weighed it and it would have been about a 35 oz steak!), but really… who would want to eat (fondant) beans when you could have steak (cake)? My thoughts exactly =)
I transferred the steak onto a huge dish and plated the mashed potatoes and beans around it. Vin took pics of his own cake once I was finished, and I snapped a few shots with his camera while he sliced it. The effect was JUST what I wanted. Everyone was like, “Ohhh, it looks like it’s medium rare inside!” and Vin said that when he cut into it, he forgot it was really a cake and thought, “Why is this steak so soft?” The chocolate frosting and the fondant blended in so well with the strawberry cake that if you did glance @ it quickly, it did look like a piece of sliced meat with the pink center and cooked outer layer. It looks even better when the “meat” was cut away from the bone so you could see the fondant inside… as if it was a real steak and not just a solid piece of cake. I had a small bite and the cake tasted pretty good, especially with the homemade fondant and chocolate frosting.
I’m just so incredibly thrilled this was a hit. I wanted to do something really, really special for my husband’s birthday, and if he’s happy, I’m happy! Originally Vin wanted robot cake pops, but I think this was a much better request. And, I’m very surprised and impressed that not once did I get frustrated or annoyed that something went wrong b/c everything went as planned. I mean, I don’t think I could have done a better job given my current “experience” @ this point. Now, what awesome cake could I possibly make for Vin’s next birthday? =P
Happy birthday again, baby! I love you soooo much! <3